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Grandmother and Child Decorating Tree

Spending time with loved ones has always been a large part of our holiday celebrations. And with kids in the picture, grandparents on both sides are eager to stake their claim on time with our family.

It can prove tricky when you’d like to see all of your extended family, want to avoid hurt feelings, and hope to be fair to everyone involved. It took some time and some trial and error for us to sort out the best way to spend our holidays.

Families choose to handle this a variety of ways- squeezing both families into the same day, or trading off holidays back and forth. But, for my family, it’s been most enjoyable when we keep a consistent holiday schedule every year. My husband’s family takes one major holiday year after year, my family takes the other, and so on. There are no disappointments and no hurt feelings because everyone knows just what to expect.

It also helps me to feel that my kids are being raised with a sense of tradition. Their memories of each holiday will have strong, specific ties.

We understand, of course, that our plan doesn’t solve everything. So, to soften the blow of not seeing the children, we’re sure to set an adjacent day aside to visit the grandparents who are missing out.

Some things to consider when planning holiday family time:

Keeping some time for just your partner and kids. While I love our families, I’m sure to set aside some time to enjoy my own little brood.

Communicating plans in advance. Let your parents know up front, so that they can plan accordingly and aren’t stung by late-season disappointment.

Accounting for what the small ones can handle. Not all children can handle long days of travel, hours of excitement, very early mornings, or late nights. Keep their limitations in mind so you don’t find yourself with an overtired and overstimulated little one.

Having a loving and involved family can hardly be considered a problem. How do you plan the holidays so that it doesn’t cause one?

Liz Moorhead

Liz Moorhead is an English teacher-turned-writer and illustrator. She paints stationery, writes for a top wedding site, and blogs at Happy Sighs between walks to the park with her two boys.