In preparation for Thanksgiving, I asked different moms about their favorite parts and challenges they would face during Thanksgiving week. I thought maybe I could collect a few tips for dealing with difficult relatives or a group of people who don’t know each other all that well. But the answer to that question was the same. Every. Time. It went something like, “Start the wine early and then keep it coming.”

To be fair, moms also had a couple other ideas to share. Have a craft prepared for the kids to keep the chaos down. Try to meet in the middle of different traditions. Plan a way to get everyone talking around the table like saying what you’re thankful for or telling a story. Draw jobs from a bowl so everyone has a part in the evening.

Ideas are great but I think one of my friends hit the nail on the head. She said, “I guess actually, I’m thankful I have the opportunity to have Thanksgiving with family regardless of differences.” She’s right. This holiday should be about reflection, togetherness, and gratitude.

So maybe you’re desperately dashing around to clean your house/carpets/fridge. Or your child’s teacher assigned a massive project to be done by next week and you feel any free time slipping through your fingers. Or you’re juggling work, kids’ vacations, and family obligations. Whatever stress plagues you this week, try to approach it from a positive perspective.

It’s hard to get that kind of perspective while surrounded by chores with children draped over your shoulders. Maybe you can sneak in some alone time and a little space to breath. It might be a night when everyone else goes to bed and you skip the laundry folding. Another mom I talked to goes for a run every Thanksgiving morning to find some peace before the hoopla.

While away from the details, remind yourself of the amazing aspects of your family and life.

  • What cool thing does your kid do?
  • Which behavior drives you crazy but it will eventually be really powerful?
  • How would things look if you didn’t have your job, your house, your extended family?
  • What if your kids didn’t have schools?

I find it easy to forget just how great things really are in my world.

When the quiet and reflection sink in, take the opportunity to tell your kids what you find great in them. Chances are, by the end of the vacation, it will be hard to remember those positives!