School is out, the weather is getting warmer and it seems all of the relatives want to come up North to visit. Wondering how to maintain your mental health when your house if full?
Finding out what your visiting family expects from you is important. Do they expect to have breakfast and dinner at your house every day? Do they want you to go to the beach with them, and sightseeing? Are they staying at your house, camping or staying in a hotel? Once you know what they expect, you can negotiate what works for you.
Start by being realistic. Many times we try to do everything so that no one except us is inconvenienced. If relatives are staying for a few days, set up a schedule, and assign tasks so everyone is involved. For example: Monday - Copper Harbor, picnic lunch, Grandma and Aunt Sally make sandwiches, John and Mom, wash and pack fruit, etc.; Tuesday - mine tour, lunch at home, bring snack along - Jane and Aunt Mary make and pack snacks.
Also, make sure you get to do what you want to. Maybe your sister is coming up, and you haven't seen here in a couple of years. You want to make sure and plan some time for just you and her to visit without interruption. Maybe on your schedule make time on Wednesday for a hike or if the weather will be rainy a trip to a favorite restaurant. Maybe Grandma is coming up and she has a favorite potato salad recipe you want to work into one of the meals while she is visiting.
Kids love hearing stories about when you were a kid. Telling stories with family members about favorite trips, holidays or family reunions give them a sense of their history. It also helps them see that you were young once, and they can relate to you. It also helps them get to know extended family that they don't see very often.
It seems even though you and your siblings may have been raised by the same parents over the years patterns and expectations change. If you find yourself getting upset with family members who are visiting, decide if it makes sense to confront them, or let it go. It could be something that won't have a long-term effect.
If the family member is undermining your parenting or relationship with your child or partner, you may want to say something. It would be important to talk with the person one on one and not in front of others. Try and talk with them when you have calmed down.
It is difficult to confront people regarding their behavior, but a good rule of thumb is to use positive communication skills. This includes using "I" statements, giving your undivided attention, listening, allowing silence, restating what they say and taking time.
Maintaining a healthy relationship with extended family is important for you and your children.
Editor's note: Taryn Mack is the director of the Copper Country Mental Health Institute.