Posts Tagged ‘holiday stress’

Saying “No” at the Holidays

Tuesday, December 8th, 2015

Saying No at the HolidaysTis’ the season for holiday parties; family dinners, office shindigs, fete’s with friends, the list goes on and on. November and December are definitely friendly to the social butterfly. What these activities are not friendly to, though, is a child’s routine and/or bedtime.

There can be a lot of pressure from outside to attend these events and there can be a lot of internal guilt on your part as well, especially when it comes to family parties. I remember clearly when my daughter was younger, back when we simply couldn’t be flexible with her routine and had to be home for bedtime, feeling a lot of pressure to go to those things anyway. I’d hear “So-and-so is bringing their child. They’ll just lay her down in an extra bed.”  Or, “It won’t hurt her to stay up late just once.” But with my daughter, it did hurt. It hurt us, badly. Sleep was so critical that almost nothing else mattered. Mine was not the child that would easily fall asleep anywhere other than her crib (and even that wasn’t easy). Mine was not the child that could fall asleep in the car and be transferred to the bed. 5 minutes of sleep in the car could possibly mean hours of screaming and fussing before she’d go back down for the night. I remember when she was about 1.5 years old and we risked staying late at a holiday party, only to have my husband sitting in the back seat desperately trying to keep her awake for the 10 minutes it took to get home. Was it really that worth it?

I felt a lot of guilt over saying no to so many social invites when my daughter was young, but I don’t feel that way anymore. It’s OK to say no to family invites that will have your kids at each other’s throats in a car for 5 hours. It’s OK to decline a holiday party that will keep you out past your child’s bedtime. It’s perfectly fine to have a few years of stay at home holidays. It’s OK to just say no when it comes to your sanity and the sanity of your family.

In just 3 years we’ve reached a point where we can be flexible in her routine and we can occasionally stay out past her bedtime. She’s old enough now that we feel comfortable accepting party invites and actually look forward to socializing as a family. We’re fine getting on a plane and spending the holidays on the other side of the country. So was it really so terrible saying no for a few years, when the benefit to us was so significant? No, it wasn’t.

Explain to friends and family that you’d love to come to their party, but that at this stage in your life, your family comes first. Or don’t. You don’t need to justify your choices. A polite “Thanks, but we can’t make it this year” is just fine too.

Kate Cunha lives in the Pacific NW and is mom to one three year old girl. She’s looking forward to spending the holidays with her in-laws this year.