Christmas is by far the most stressful time of the year.
Every single year, come December I always promise myself that next year, I will start the Christmas shopping early. I'm not the only one am I? I think we all promise ourselves this, so come December we don't have any of the added stress of present buying. However, it never quite goes to plan.
And it doesn't just stop at presents does it? There's the buying and putting up of decorations, deciding whether you will spend Christmas day with family or at home, where will you eat? What will you eat? And who will you spend it with.
I have attempted to come up with a fool proof plan to make sure that everyone can enjoy Christmas with as little stress as possible. Here goes:
1. Buy your presents early. I know, I know, it never really happens. But maybe just buy one a month? When your child, partner, family member, etc happen to mention something they like that they've seen, make a mental note and the next time you have some spare cash: pick it up. Honestly, you'll thank yourself later.
2. Don't take on the present buying yourself. For instance, don't feel pressured into buying your OH's family or your kids friends. If someone wants to buy a present for someone.. let them buy it. Even if they just make a list of what they want to buy and you make the trip yourself, at least you know what you're looking for. There's nothing worse than traipsing round shops armed with huge carrier bags. Shopping stress? What shopping stress?
3. Plan. Plan, plan, plan. Make lists, make notes, however you like to sort through the muddle that is wrapping, food shopping or turkey basting, make sure you know when you're doing it. I know that sometimes planning things down to the very last detail and taking away the spontaneity can make things boring.. but when you realise that instead of rushing about to wrap up the last of the Christmas presents, you can have a glass of wine, you'll be grateful that you did.
4. You know how when it comes to decorating the tree, you want to be that fun parent that allows their kids to help out? You want them to help put the baubles on and get wrapped up in tinsel. But then afterwards, when you turn on your twinkly lights and revel in the absolute atrocity of your uneven, patchy tree, you wish you hadn't? We've all been there. Why not buy your kids their own small trees to keep in their room? Let them decorate it as you decorate the big tree, that way they feel like they're helping, plus they get their very own Christmas tree. Also, you don't have to wait until they've gone to bed to re-do it all.
5.When you have some spare time, try and make decorations with the kids. Whether that be paper chains, bunting or letting them create their own bauble. They'll have fun doing it, it might keep them occupied, plus you'll have something special to hang on the tree.
7. Being stuck inside for long periods of time can stress us all out. We get under each others feet and we start to get cabin fever. Don't be afraid to brave the cold weather. Wrap up warm, take a trip to the park or to a childrens group. Even if you just pop over to a friends house, getting out of the same four walls can do you the world of good. It also lets the kids burn off some of that spare energy they've saved up for you!
8. Let other people help. Sometimes we can be too proud to admit we're struggling, but it doesn't help anyone. Allowing others to step in and lend a hand isn't a sign of weakness or inability to cope. In fact, you'll probably find your friends and family are more than happy to step in every now and again. Need someone to watch the kids whilst you finish off the last of your shopping? No problem, that's what Grandparents are for!
9. Following this: don't take on too much. I think we can all be guilty of not being able to just say 'No'. I for one am far too eager to please and hate letting people down. What I have learnt however, is that for the sake of my sanity, I do just have to say no. Taking on too much and agreeing to help everyone else usually leads to added stress that really isn't necessary. The odd favour here and there when you have the time to do it is absolutely fine, but agreeing to cook lunch for your friends whilst you still have a million and one things to do probably isn't the best idea.
10. Last but not least, don't forget to take time out for yourself. Have a hot bath, read a book, or maybe even just manage to finish that coffee whilst it's still hot. Remember that Christmas is about you too, not just about everyone else. I know they say that giving is far better than receiving, but treating yourself every once in a while definitely makes you feel better.
I think it's very easy to get sucked into the craziness that is Christmas. I'm not saying I don't enjoy it, because I absolutely love it. However, keeping everyone easily pleased is difficult and I think we often forget that Christmas is actually about us too. It's hard to remember that we should enjoy the running up to the big day rather than dreading it, especially in the midst of late night shopping and present wrapping.
Try to find the joy in the small things and keep in mind that Christmas is about family.. including you.
This was a guest post for BabyHuddle