This morning my husband announced it was 20 days until Christmas. While the kids cheered and happy-danced in the kitchen, I wanted to throw his jolly-caroling phone at him.
Christmas parties, graduations, school carols, awards nights, dance concerts, family catch ups, end of year get-togethers—this time of year can be stupidly hectic. And, incredibly stressful.
‘I’m so busy’ is the often-heard apologetic catch cry of my fellow mums. The thing is, we are always busy juggling work and family life. But the end-of-school/sport/dance-year brings an increase in social commitments, which creates intense pressure to be super-organised. Juggling the extra ‘fun’ the Christmas period brings to our family life can be a logistical nightmare.
And do not forget Christmas shopping! When my babies were young, my Christmas purchases were (somewhat smugly) completed and hidden by October. This year, I did not even notice October until the kids begged to go trick-or treating.
The Christmas season is supposed to be a time for joy and happiness. Family bonding and all that jazz. It is no fun being grumpy, tired and stressed out from now until the 25th December. So, how do we make it easier?
Just say no
It is important to be aware of the impact of the extra events and recognise when it becomes too much. Sometimes, it is just not worth the drama of tired, exhausted kids (and parents). So, do not feel obligated. Politely RSVP as early as possible, and know you are looking out for yourself and your family.
Schedule quiet time
Grab your calendar and block out a couple of hours here and there. That way, you are prepared to be ‘otherwise engaged’ when you receive an invitation. Downtime is so important for our mental and physical wellbeing. Take the time to read a book, go for a walk, or snuggle with the kids and watch Shrek for the millionth time. It is good for the soul.
Be as prepared as possible. Meal-prep when you can so there are easy snacks and meals on stand-by. Share the load by carpooling with other parents. Reduce morning stress by reminding the kids to pack their bags the night before. It may sound silly to ‘plan’ sleep but, if you know you are having a late night, then try to create time to rest, or go to bed a little earlier when you can.
Relax and Enjoy
Celebrating achievements and spending time together is important; attending school and community events can be good fun for everyone. My kids’ primary school hosts a Christmas Carols evening on the school oval. It is a lovely annual event and, while it is not always easy to fit in around basketball training and dance class, it is worth the effort to don a Santa hat and spend a couple of hours with family and friends, munching on snacks and singing along with brightly dressed kids wrapped in tinsel.
The countdown to Christmas can be a highly stressful time. Kids are usually tired, cranky and over-excited, while we are constantly on edge, mentally ticking a million boxes and trying to keep everything running smoothly. It is so easy to become run-down, overwhelmed and exhausted. So, take a minute here and there to stop and breathe. Be kind to yourself and your whole family will reap the benefits.