8 Tips for Keeping Holiday Stress to a Minimum
For many parents the Christmas holiday period is a mass of complex social interactions with family, relatives, friends and pets. Here's our tips for coping with stress and managing expectations.
It’s supposed to be the most beautiful time of the year. A time where pine or plastic trees stand tall in living room corners, children have permission to stay up much later than their usual bed time, and most importantly, a time where families come together to eat, drink and be merry. And in an ideal world, most parents hope to pull off the day perfectly.
Yes, we know, this doesn’t often happen! As a parent the attempt to combine family life, work life and Christmas preparations can be a challenge. That’s why we have devised a few strategies which will help alleviate stress – keeping you organised and sane over the Christmas and New Year period. Here are our top tips:
1. Use a calendar
For most parents, it is likely from Mid-November you will be playing catch up with your appointments – Christmas parties, work meetings, after-school clubs, child daycare, and so on. When you’re constantly on the go, many parents find it difficult to rely entirely on their mobile phone. For this reason, we’d recommend enlisting the help of a printed calendar. This can be attached to the refrigerator in order to efficiently coordinate childcare.
2. Regift and repurpose
Try to avoid running last minute errands and buying last minute gifts in crowded shopping centres on Christmas Eve. Creating a basic Excel spreadsheet of what you want to buy and for whom, will help manage your shopping lists and simplify your gift planning. Don’t forget to categorise, if your gift can be ordered online, bought in the shop or made by yourself. Alternatively, if you are not well-versed with spreadsheets, there are a lot of downloadable apps that can help with this also. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Many parents do find that with life events such as engagements, birthdays, summer parties, and anniversaries there’s often an accumulation of unwanted gifts. It would also be a cost-effective option to then riffle through your sack of unwanted gifts in order to see what you can regift and repurpose.
3. Don't sweat the small stuff
Try to remind yourself that gift-giving is not the most important part of Christmas. Don’t panic yourself, if you have only managed to buy half of the gifts, and haven’t yet purchased gifts for the neighbour at the end of the street you exchange small talk with at the supermarket, or the family members Uncle Eric and Cousin Jessica you see once a year. Try not to be so inclusive with your gift giving, so try to only share gifts with those who are a) your immediate family, b) very close friends, or c) have given your children a gift this year.
There’s no doubt that DIY often requires you to possess a certain craft skill and creative interest. However creating beautiful decorations alone, with a friend or together with children is simple. For example making an advent calendar is something that can be easily done and you have the ability to fill each day with a treat or something of sentimental value to your family. If you do find that time is of the essence, it may be in your best interest to spend a little money and pick up an advent calendar which was on your child’s wish list. This way it is a win-win situation for all parties. Your child is content with its “cool” advent calendar and you in tow, have more time to spend baking or watching your favorite series on the couch.
5. Christmas Eve's Eve
Whether you loathe or love cooking – guaranteed, no one wants to be stuck in a hot and sticky kitchen on the night of Christmas Eve! This is why it is better to prepare your Christmas menu a couple of days in advance. Start preparations such as picking out the ingredients, marinating the turkey or peeling the potatoes the evening before Christmas Eve. This way you would have more time for leisure and can actually be present when a healthy flow of guests begin to arrive on Christmas Eve. You can truly enjoy the homely atmosphere, attend an evening caroling service with your children and receive your grandparents from the airport.
6. The Christmas party
Is there a dress code for this year’s Christmas party? This is something that most parent’s overlook as they don’t often have the time to adhere to the dress code, find a reliable babysitter, in addition to booking an appointment for a haircut. In this instance, it would make your life a great deal easier by referring to your calendar entries, scheduling a day of the week you will go to the shopping centre, or spend the evening online shopping. Finding yourself a trustworthy babysitter isn’t a daunting task, one is available even if you require childcare at the last minute. Try to book a hair appointment on the day of the party and then you’re ready to go!
7. More stress, more support
Don’t try to do everything yourself. If you have marked events which you would like to attend in your calendar, allow enough time to organise your childcare. If necessary, talk to other parents within your friendship groups before the event, but if they aren’t available you can always depend on the extra help of a reliable babysitter. And in some cases a household carer may also be able to offer you the support that you need.
8. You can't make everybody happy
As a parent, it is important to remember that you cannot please everybody. And the closer that it gets to Christmas, within your household you may find that there will be various discussions regarding where Christmas will be celebrated? With your family or your partner’s? Do you share the evening with your grandparent’s or with his? Or should you invite everyone to your home collectively? These are some common thoughts which can cause stress. And why? Because some family members don’t get along or feel like dividing the time isn’t enough. Our solution: Spend Christmas where you and your children feel the most comfortable and enjoy that atmosphere. If that place of comfort is at home, then there is your answer.
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