Dear Annie: When my mother-in-law was still living, I always helped her organize the holiday meals. After she died, I began doing it myself. I always plan a nice dinner.
Now I am having a hard time wanting to get together with my family. I have adult grandchildren, one of whom is already married. I get no assistance from any of them. It’s just something they expect me to do. No one helps with the cooking or cleaning up afterward. They all wait until the last minute to arrive and sit around while I get everything on the table. After the meal, they go downstairs to chat while I am stuck with the kitchen cleanup.
I am tired, and I feel used. How can these adults not see the need to respect and appreciate all the times I have done this? My younger grandchildren enjoy the family get-togethers and don’t understand why I am not enthusiastic about them. How do I handle this? – Tired of Doing All the Holiday Planning
Dear Tired: You have to tell them. For years, you have done all the work and asked for nothing. You’ve trained them to think this is OK. They may even believe that you prefer it this way. So speak up. Let them know they are expected to contribute by helping with the cooking, setting the table and cleaning up afterward. They can chat while washing dishes. Assign specific duties to each person, and include the younger grandchildren so they learn that family meals are a group responsibility. If your children and grandchildren refuse to pitch in, inform them that you will no longer host these gatherings because it is too much work for you. You deserve a rest.