Q: My husband and I are from the same city but now live out of town. Both of our parents live in the same area, albeit an hour apart. Going home to visit has become such a stressful event with the constant back and forth between both houses and both families vying for our attention. It’s even more difficult this year since we now have a 7-month-old daughter. Both sides want as much time with us and their granddaughter as possible but don’t seem to understand the pressure and stress that is placed on us as a result.
In addition, all of our friends also live in the same town, and we never get to see them.
How can we best split our time without the constant unpacking and repacking?
A: Stop trying to cater to everyone, please. It’s nuts.
Instead, create a capital-p Plan that both serves your needs and gives everyone a fair shot at time with you, and then stick to it.
For example: Stay with one set of parents for X holiday in odd years and the other in evens. The off-year parents can drive to see you at the other parents’ house. Or, stay home and have the parents visit you — all at once or in alternate years. Or, on a three-year cycle, Parents A, Parents B, stay home. Or four-year: Parents A, stay home, Parents B, stay home. Throw other holidays and ordinary visits into the fairness mix. You get the idea.
The beauty of a system built for fairness is that you can erase the arguments. "We’re doing this. Thanks in advance for being on board." No negotiations. "Everyone’s getting their time, and we’re staying sane." Period.
And, when you’re in town, start making time for your friends. You can even have the grandparents baby-sit for you while you do, so they get precious alone time with your kid and you get to keep these local friendships going. They’re important.
Remember, these nuclear families you’re working so hard to honor were once as new as yours is now. It’s part of the natural order for you to start doing things your own way.