The holiday season is an opportunity to spend quality with the ones we love, be grateful, continue traditions and make new ones. It's the most wonderful time of year, right?
Well, everyone knows it's really not as simple as that. From the unreasonable to-do lists to the toys all over the floor right before company arrives, these next two months end up being the most stressful time of year. And oftentimes, we take it out on the ones who mean the most to us.
Why is nit-picking such an issue? "When we nag, we push people away and make them want to spite us. When we acknowledge and value the help and support they offer, they are more willing to step up and do it again," says YourTango expert and family coach Tara Kennedy-Kline.
Here's why this season is prime nag-time — and what you can do to stop it.
1. We're Overscheduling
During the holiday season, our calendars are jam-packed: We're making schedules, arranging appointments and sending (or recieving) invitations to the point where our to-do lists are overloaded. And not just for ourselves, but for our whole family, too.
"We expect those who occupy our home to step up and help us check off our "to do" list," Tara explains, "there is a sense of urgency in our requests when we have a defined timeline because we want things done "right now!" We ask and ask and ask then demand and then bitch and complain because we need to check things off our massive list and we need to do it now!"
How you can stop:
When you make a to-do list, involve the whole family. "Post the lists somewhere that everyone will see them every morning and evening," Tara suggests, "I'm thinking on the refrigerator or front door. Then check things off the list as you do them. Make the agreement that if one person gets their list done early, they can help with someone else who is struggling with their list … and always have a "family" list where people can do small things that anyone can do and they get to put their name on it (for bragging rights)."
One must for writing your to-do list? "Nothing gets left off the list because of 'well that's just common sense! They should have known to do that without being asked'. Instead, Kline explains that if something's not on the list, either do it yourself or plan for it to not get done.
2. We're Setting Unreasonable Goals
When we're pressed for time, we're also not being realistic about our expectations for ourselves and our family. "We allow our kids to leave their clothes and games and toys all over the living room all year long, then two days before the entire extended family shows up for dinner, we want them to "find a home" for all that stuff so we don't look like a bad housekeeper or parent — but we also forget that our kids may be really excited to play those games with their cousins who they never see so they don't WANT to put the games away!" explains Kline. Sound familiar? "Their refusal to do what we asked is what causes our escalation or "holiday panic" which is what causes us to nag instead of just ask."
How you can stop:
Kline suggests scheduling a time for the whole family to sit down and talk about your goals for the holidays. Everyone can bring their personal to-do list or create one at the meeting. "Compare lists and determine A) What MUST be done before the scheduled event B) what can be put on the "Promise to do right after the Holidays" list? C) Who is responsible for each task. D) When will it be completed by.
3. We're Under Shopping Pressure
How could you forget the milk after I asked you 10,000 times! Sound familiar?
Shopping often sparks a lot of nagging, whether it's spending too much on gifts or someone forgetting the one item you need for your holiday meal.
How you can stop:
This one's an easy fix. "Sometimes we need to ask ourselves 'is this really worth the fight it will start?'" says Tara. In this case, it's not worth it. She suggests sending him back out to get it — it's that simple. "No big deal, we forget stuff too, just do it. I need it, you forgot it, go get it. Thank you Honey, you're the best!"
Tara explains, this approach goes for most nagging scenarios. "If you really care that much about something, mention it once in a loving way, 'I could really use your help with this, I'm getting panicky' — and then let people help you." Keep Reading ...
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