Family, Wellbeing

Approaching Christmas calmly

I wrote this post three years ago, and today I'm  updating and re-publishing it. It's all about the importance of taking time out in the build up to Christmas and not being afraid to ask for help if needed.

I love Christmas time, the excitement, the sights, the smells of mice pies as they come out of the oven (omfghhhh that smell). I've been getting  in the festive mood more so than usual this year, getting excited earlier than usual. What I don't love is getting sucked in to feeling that I should be doing things that I don't need to do. 

'What do I need to do?' and 'What do I want to do?' are two questions I ask myself a lot at this time of the year. This pre-Christmas week is always a busy one. It's the getting the present shopping / work / socializing things done before the children break up from school. It's the 'dig deep' final push before I slump in front of Christmas film re-runs and eat my body weight in good cheese and crackers and enjoy my annual dabble into the world of port drinking. 

The logistics of organising family life in the run up to Christmas are taxing. To what degree depends very much upon your plans, your family and how much you choose to take on, but it always involves more effort that a normal week. Usually this leaves me a little jaded, at exactly the time that my children are anything but jaded. In fact they are bundles of pent up excitement, counting down the 'sleeps' until Christmas day. Slightly tired and stressed parents + over excited children = ?   Well that very depends on how you choose to approach the week.

Now might seem like a really bad time, when time is so short, to take an hour out of the day and just go for a walk, but actually clearing our heads like this is more important than ever. And that doesn't even mean taking time out to walk as family, it can just be you, on your own, taking that short space of time to just be in the moment and not be thinking of everyone else, or how you are going to manage everything.

Whether you walk alone of with your family, walking can leave you feeling; more focused and alert when you return home, less likely to forget things, feeling better and sleeping better for some physical exercise ( in turn refreshed) and like any negative emotions have been 're-set'.

This year I went for a walk and on that walk I thought about the things I felt I needed to do in the run up to Christmas and how I could make those things easier for myself (we should never feel bad for considering ourselves first and foremost). And so this year I have decided to only send Christmas cards to close family - parents, siblings, my children. I have roped in my husband to help me go through the children's & family presents to get them sorted and wrapped up. I have asked my eldest daughter Holly to do some smaller food-and-supplies shopping trips for me. Three really simple changes that have eased up my to-do list and in turn relieved me of some of the pressure that I was feeling.

Approaching Christmas calmly like this can make you enjoy Christmas more and banish any fleeting moments of resentment where you just wish it was all over. If there are things that you really need to do, and you have people that you can ask for help, ask them. Especially if you find yourself saying things like 'But if I don't do it no one else will!'

Explain calmly just how stressed you feel, and ask them to help. I've found that asking for specific help works better than a general plea for help. Identify something you need help with, ask for help with that and let go of any high standards that you may have towards how that task is done.

I often hear the 'But if I don't do it no one else will!' line followed swiftly with 'But if they do it it won't be done properly!'  Remember:  it doesn't need to be done properly, it just needs to be done. Working together as a team is a wonderful thing, especially if you can sit down at the end of the day and give yourselves a collective pat on the back.

And finally, if need some extra help, don't forget that those children with all that pre- Christmas excitement are often more than happy to help channel their energy into something that will make Christmas better. 

Wishing you a calm run up to Christmas x