Christmas is a time of joy, and sometimes the gap between reality and joyfulness can make us feel like we’re not quite getting it right. Here’s my handy guide to lowering your stress levels as the Christmas season approaches.
- Be realistic: you cannot be present at every single school and nursery event. This is where I realise that working mum life doesn’t offer huge amounts of slack for the extra full time job that school admin sometimes feels like. My two have two “memorable events” and two carol concerts between them. If it turns out that I can’t be there, I know that this guilt will hit me right in the gut, as I’ve been able to carve my work around Maurice’s school commitments for the whole of his school career so far. But I won’t allow it to swallow me up: my mantra for this situation is “I am doing my best, and this is ok”. If I can’t go to everything, I’ll see whether the grandparents can make it, and if they can’t, I’ll make sure fellow parents record it for me so I get to watch it with my little ones. I am doing my best.
- Be simple: now that I’m fully in tune with my financial wellbeing I also have more awareness of buying presents simply for the sake of it, which isn’t sustainable for planet or wallet. So I’m making sure I choose gifts with actual care and if thoughtful regifting is an option, it’s one I will choose. Being present is sometimes more memorable than giving presents. I’ve never particularly been a crafty person but I’m thinking more about what presents I can make and create this year: photographs, memory books, compiling the events of the year. We’ve lost a dear family member this year and so that’s made me stop and think what it is that makes you remember certain holidays: and it’s not always the presents.
- Set your boundaries. In order to have a truly merry Christmas, focus on how you want to feel, not on what you think others expect you to do. Do you want to feel stressed and hectic, or would your ideal scenario be that you have time to spend talking/playing with your baby/savouring your meal? Often, we don’t actually stop to visualise what we want to happen, and end up reacting to what others want from us and therefore feel frazzled and stressed. Set an intention, but more than that, write yourself a little list: forget about To Do lists, and write a I Want to Feel list: be specific with how YOU want to feel (relaxed, energised, content), and what you want to spend time doing, and have the confidence to tell yourself that what you want matters. That way, you’re more likely to enable it to happen.
- Lose the shoulds. We carry so many shoulds around as mums/women anyway, but Christmas can bring Santa’s sackfuls of them and leave you feeling not good enough. So what if you haven’t made all the food from scratch, or wrapped all your gifts in matching paper with ribbons and caligraphy on the cards? It’s far better for the planet to use newspaper or recycled paper for wrapping – and who truly remembers how beautifully something is wrapped for them, or whether the stuffing was actually homemade? Savour the emotions, silly stories and memories that are created from the day rather than the image of instagrammable Christmas perfection. Lift the shoulds off your shoulders.
- Give yourself some time out to feel christmassy! I know that for the past few years Christmas has suddenly jumped out of the bushes at me in a general melee of panic present buying and work commitments, I’ve had a December book writing deadline for the past 3 years (plus all the motherdom extra emotional admin), which has meant that the run up to Christmas has been racing against the clock and has always felt somewhat humbug rather than cheery Rudolf. This year, I want to try and make December feel like a proper run up to an exciting event. Without the “I should be feeling” and huge unrealistic expectations, but instead just embracing all the things about Christmas that brought me joy when I was little: the mince pies, the Christmas compilations (I LOVE Mariah Carey’s Christmas song, unashamedly!), the twinkle of Christmas sparkle. I’m going to try and take the boys into town to see the lights in all their splendour. We’ll go to Columbia Road market tomorrow to get our tree and to drink some mulled wine and allow that sense of excitement to begin to bubble.
- I’m a Neom Organics wellbeing ambassador and every year I have the beautiful Christmassy Christmas candles, which I love: the packaging is always beautiful and the scents right on point for evoking Christmas memories and uplifting feelings…but for some reason I’ve usually waited to light them until Christmas Eve and around the dinner table on Christmas Day. Which is probably a bit of a waste! So each evening until Christmas I’m going to light the Perfect Peace (my absolute fave, I LOVE the smell) or Precious Moment Christmas candle and maybe spritz the Precious Moment room spray. The room spray is a godsend for me, because my children have this really annoying habit of blowing out my candles and thinking that’s huge amounts of fun (so one of my intentions is to only light them when they’ve gone to bed!). Scent is so powerful for enhancing wellbeing and as we enter December I’m setting the intention to, in small ways every day, recreate that innocent sense of anticipation about Christmas which I have only felt for the past few years vicariously through my small children (which is adorable, don’t get me wrong, but I don’t want to miss out this year myself!). This December, I want to soak it up a little bit more consciously. Christmas cheer, I’m coming for ya.
Do you celebrate Christmas? Is it a most wonderful time of the year, or a stress avalanche? I’d love to hear your thoughts xxx