Are you already dreading visiting the family for Christmas?
I am incredibly lucky. Both my parents and my husbands parents are genuinely lovely people, but even lovely people can get on your nerves sometimes, especially when you are cooped up in an apartment with them for several days. The old fish/guests adage was never more true. Little niggles, that would normally not bother you become vitally important and we find ourselves fuming at something as irrelevant as mother Not Putting The Lid On The Jam Jar.
It is important to remember that everyone does things slightly differently, both in the home and in regard to child rearing. I touched on this before, how tolerance goes a long way in getting along with your children’s grandparents.
My father in law adjust the brightness of the lamp in the living room constantly. And asks “Are you hungry, are you thirsty?” every hour. Over the years I have learned that this is his way of showing his love and affection towards his family, but I have to admit that it did used to grate on my nerves.
Over the years, I have developed a coping strategy. We play Family Bingo*. It is very easy. All you need is an imaginary list of things that niggle you. You can of course go all out and make up a bingo sheet, but don’t leave it lying around for your family to see. Here is one I made earlier (not with real issues of our families, just as an example)
Then when the family member in question does whatever it is that drives you up the wall, you simply smile, take out your (imaginary) bingo sheet and TICK that box.
It is extremely satisfying, and most fun if you are doing this with your partner. The last time we were at my In Laws, my father in law said, “I haven’t tasted the food. it might need salt”, and my husband only had to raise an eyebrow while mouthing BINGO. I struggled to contain my mirth as the rest of the family carried on eating, oblivious to our game.
Try it the next time you go visiting. If you don’t get irritated at the little things, then you are less likely to blow up and start an argument about something inconsequential.
You can download a customisable Bingo Sheet here (PDF)
* Since my mother is likely to read this, I would like to state that of course that we never have to make up a bingo sheet when we visit her, as both she and my father are perfect. And if she needs help to make a bingo sheet for when we visit, she can always ask me…