Sometimes those times we most anticipate can provide extra challenges — challenges to our joy, to our relationships, to our mental health. Depending on your personality and the God-given propensities of your teen and other members of your household, sometimes the break from routine can actually be counter-productive.
Whether you’re staying around home or traveling over the holidays, winter break can allow for either added negativity or positive growth. Instead of simply anticipating (or dreading?) winter break, you can be smart about it and plan ahead for the kinds of temptations that tend to come your way (1 Corinthians 10:13). The goal? Increased joy, strengthened relationships, and even more steady sanity.
Knowing “Triggers” for Individuals
Maybe some members of your household get the “winter blues” when you’re cooped up at home for days on end, while others easily unravel when there’s too much constant activity and no space for solitude and quiet. You can probably structure your family’s schedule to reduce such situations, but sometimes they happen anyway.
Having a plan of attack and being flexible about changing plans to keep the goal in view can be key. For instance, if a last-minute outing or invitation pops up, but you know you’ll be a mess if you go out and don’t get your down time or to-do list accomplished, you may need to cancel something else in order to make room in the schedule without sacrificing sanity. Or maybe you just need to let go of some expectations and determine to enjoy the fun!
Providing for Positive Interactions
Our expectations of a perfect, loving time of family togetherness can often leave us disappointed and unable to truly embrace the moments that we do have. In addition to adjusting those unrealistic expectations, you can plan ahead.
One of the biggest threats to family togetherness today is technology. Perhaps you could plan ahead for tech-free time by asking each family member for a specific activity they’d like to include in your trip or at-home holiday time. During those special activities, cell phones and other devices can be put away in favor of personal interactions.
Perhaps “conversation cards” or social games can be set out as alternatives to simply watching a movie together, or even having dessert after a movie with the intention of discussing situations or issues brought up in the movie can help your family grow closer to each other.
Communicating About Your Intentions
This communication thing is incredibly key! Before the break, you can communicate your plans to try to avoid problems. Be willing to listen to other household members’ ideas and re-evaluate your plans, in light of them. Then, when you’re in the middle of what could easily become a disastrous situation, remind yourself and others of your goals. You might even want to pray aloud together and re-structure the day’s plans according to the temptations that have surfaced.
At the end of the break, perhaps you could hold a debriefing powwow to give and receive feedback for future break times and — perhaps most importantly — to celebrate the progress you have made!