Managing Family Expectations During the Holidays

October 6, 2017


The holidays can be a stressful time for anyone, but for business owners, and for doctors especially, the holidays are filled with unmet family expectations of someone who hardly has time to go to the bathroom. People continue to get sick during the months of November and December, employees still need to be paid and documenting it all takes just as much time as it did in October. While your family has been planning Christmas dinner since July, you have hardly had time to plan a thirty minute walk.

If you have doubts that you’ll be able to participate in many holiday festivities, now is the time to manage family expectations. Here are some key things to consider:

1. Tell your immediate family that you may not be able to make every holiday, but that should not deter them from having fun. Assure them that while you are slaving away with paperwork, you would appreciate a quick visit through video chat. That way you can wish all your friends season’s greetings without having to endure the small talk and ugly sweaters.

2. Figure out what you can commit to, and set those plans in stone. Choose two events that are important to you, and block them out in your calendar. Your family will know that you care enough to prioritize them in your schedule. You also won’t feel as though the holidays have passed you by.

3. When you are with family, turn off the electronics. When you are there, be fully there. Look people in the eye, help out in the kitchen, play with the kids.

4. Do not insist your spouse attends your side of the family’s events if you can’t go. In fact, if he or she doesn’t want to go, call your parents and let them know it just won’t happen this year. There’s no need to make enemies among in-laws, and no need to put your spouse in a potentially awkward situation.

Rest assured, your family loves you, and they know you have a demanding job. As long as you make family expectations clear from the get-go, you can have a smooth, drama-free holiday season.