It could be because I’m a child of the 80s and grew up with one parent droning on about Christmas in the post war era (yep, my Dad really is that old) or that Pinterest wasn’t around to make exhausted parents feel bad about themselves, but as I look around at the Christmas preparations going on around us (ok, mainly on my Newsfeed) it has left me wondering what the hell has happened to Christmas?
Gone are the days of Christmas being just one day – yep, that’s right, that’s all it was. If your parents were separated you often took it in turns, none of this Christmas at one house, Boxing Day at the other. Now Christmas begins on September the 1st when everything in the shops starts to change. We’re all wandering around in strappy tops and flip flops and incongruently, there are snow flakes and reindeer with red noses everywhere you turn. Then there’s Dinovember, a precursor to
Creep Elf on the Shelf and finally, the main event. This tends to take a week to 10 days by the time you have visited relatives etc. Somewhere, in the middle of all this, we are expected to not only be loving everything about Christmas, but also to show the world how under control we have it.
Here is my complete guide to not losing your shit this Christmas:
I know, if I say this one more time I think someone’s going to poke me in the eye with a coffee stirrer, but it’s true. This includes polishing shoes whilst watching tv, washing up once the meal has ended, laying out clothes the night before and wrapping presents as you shop for them. It may make you feel middle-aged and worry that you’re turning into your mother but there is a reason that middle-aged mothers seem remarkably less stressed than our generation at this time of year.
Recognise when you need a break and take it.
It’s easy to soldier on thinking, I’ll just do x,y,z when the reality is, take a break, put x,y,z away and come back to it later. It’s not going anywhere and if you have the opportunity to have a break or change activity (a change being as good as a rest), take it. Too many of us are martyrs to unnecessary tasks or tasks that don’t have to be done that minute.
Taking a step back from all the gender (in)equality of late, most of the ladies I know still feel that when it comes to family life, juggling careers, managing Christmas and birthday celebrations, the buck stops with them. In many of our cases if we left husbands to organise Christmas we would most likely be dining on drive through McDonalds and opening last minute gifts still in their carrier bags on the day. This isn’t likely to change any time soon but it doesn’t mean you have to do everything yourself. I find I can manage the Christmas preparations and the day as long as the kids are entertained and out from under my feet. Delegating childcare to Stu and my long suffering mother-in-law is priceless at this time of year.
Stu asked the other day when we would be doing the annual food shop; the only time he steps foot in the supermarket is to lead the filling of the trolley in anticipation of the Christmas blow out. Disappointment abounded once he discovered that considering the shops are only shut for one short day, I had decided to save the £200 and just order our usual weekly shop. Overindulging may feel lovely at the time but how terrible it makes you feel afterwards is just not worth it; the hangover/empty wallet/huge weight gain/remorse can all be halted in its tracks by recognising that just because it’s Christmas and people often choose to use it as an opportunity to go nuts, doesn’t mean that you have to.
Go Out… Everyday.
By this I don’t mean hit the pub and not returning until they’ve locked the doors, turned off all the lights and the staff have gone home….. With winter comes dark days, cold weather and the insatiable need to be inside, eating a tin of Quality Street whilst watching the Eastenders omnibus. Cabin fever can be a very real thing and going out for as little as one hour a day will refresh your mindset making you feel better about the days and weeks ahead.
For some reason we seem to neglect this at Christmas; too much rushing around, too many commitments and too much excitement! However, we all know that exercise releases endorphins that make us feel good about ourselves. Get up, get out and go for a walk, hit the gym, do some swimming and you’ll feel much more able to cope with the holiday season.
Most people are incapable of motivating themselves to see long-distance relatives at any other time of year. Suddenly the Christmas season falls and everyone packs up their car to drive to other ends of the country all in the spirit of seasonal visiting. How about opting to see them at another time of year; Easter, Summer, Autumn half term? Show that you care enough to make time for them, rather than seeing them out of Christmas duty and give yourself the holiday season off from long distance travelling.
Understand that Perfection is Impossible.
We all wish we had done something differently or more effectively or simply had just kept our mouth shut. The best thing to realise is that things are what they are and move on. There is no turning back the clock or changing things. Nobody is perfect and there are a myriad of ways to do things. Whatever it is, isn’t necessarily wrong, just a different way.
Look After Yourself.
With so much hustle and bustle in the run up to Christmas and New Year, it is easy to put our own needs to one side. Take a long bath, meet an old friend and go for a walk while you catch up. Do whatever it is you like to do to give yourself some time off from the relentless daily grind.