Everyone is just so busy in the weeks before Christmas, myself included, we end up running around trying to shop for all those presents, get our tree and decorations up, finish projects or jobs at home and at work, catch up with friends and family and go to children’s nativity plays, visit Santa and not to mention the Christmas parties. It’s just go, go, go. And let’s not forget the cost: its also spend, spend, spend.
It’s easy to forget what its all really about. Its easy to forget the homeless, the sick, those less fortunate than us.. I wrote before about amazing families that spend their Christmas day cooking and serving the homeless Christmas dinner. (You can read about it here) I would really like to get my kids involved in giving more and realizing how lucky we are… but I’m just so busy… It’s a vicious cycle.
Top ten tips for a happy peaceful Christmas time:
- Less shops – lets face it, who wants to spend a half an hour looking for a parking space, then to fight your way around the shops, and queue for 20 minutes to pay for the items you need to buy. What else can we do? We can get creative about it: shop online, buy local, donate to charity instead of presents, do the shopping in October (yeah right)!
- More family days – Ditch the shops and head out for the day with the kids. You’ll all be much happier, even if its just a walk to the park or playground. I know its cold but we know how to wrap up, we live in Ireland so we expect it. I was on a mission last Sunday to show the kids the snow, (my husband did NOT want to spend an hour or so, driving to the mountains in search of snow) but we ended up having the best fun we’ve had in years (and that was just the adults). It was a such a de-stresser to have a snowball fight. We went back to our childhood. It was approximately a million times better than going shopping.
- Less spending – Let’s face it, there is always something to spend money on at Christmas, you could just keep on buying and spending. Its such an expensive time, and I know I make it worse by over-thinking, ‘that present isn’t enough…better get them something else’, ‘better have some ‘ just in case’ presents too’. I have decided to draw a line in the sand now.. and remember its not about all the ‘stuff’. It is about a different type of spending… spending time with people.
- More Charity – If Christmas is not about ‘stuff’ then it should be about helping people. It should be about showing our kids, that even doing some small kind thing is what Christmas is about. Giving money or your time to a worthy cause, or for the kids maybe donating old toys or teddy’s to the hospital. I’m determined to do this with my kids in 2018. I want them not just to be grateful but to feel grateful for everything they have. In the 80’s my Dad started a movement and a charity, that was all about donating the money you would have spent on Christmas presents and giving it to Concern (It was after Live Aid and he got lots of family and friends involved). We spent days dropping leaflets into doors all over Dublin, they could buy special Christmas cards to give to out saying that instead of money they are helping those affected by the Famine in Ethiopia. It was, at the time, a revolutionary idea, and I was so proud of him and happy to help.
- Less screens – Okay so who doesn’t love snuggling up for a good Christmas movie? I do! Especially with the fire lighting. But with our kids and teens, new gadgets and devices can take over Christmas if we let it. We don’t need a lecture on this again, but everything in moderation, what can we do over the holidays? Why not agree now with your kids, to limit screen time to a certain length of time per day? Or perhaps agree to turn off the Wifi until a certain time. Hide the phones or tablets. One mother told me she has a secret hiding place for her child’s tablet, she doesn’t tell the kids about it, just hides it and lets them look for it. Maybe play hide and seek with the tablet or phone… when they find it they can play with it.. Whatever keeps them off the screens and playing more?
- More games – Charades was a popular game in our house growing up. There were regular card games too. Board games and Christmas, go hand in hand, all that indoor time. The fun can be just brilliant. My kids lose the pieces to almost every board game they get. But recently they got ‘Discover Ireland’ board game from my Aunt and they love it. They’ve asked me to play lots of times, but I’ve managed to get off the hook a lot. I’m going to make an effort to play with them more… its great when they initiate it.
- Less screaming – We all want less shouting and screaming. But raring a family can be very testing. The stress levels can get very high and there are times when you believe that the only way to get them to listen – is to scream… I think if the adult screams, its ‘game over’, they’ve won. That’s not to say I don’t do it. But I try to catch myself and tell myself to calm down. The fact is; I know my kids will end up screaming and shouting if I do. Its not rocket science. I want a calm peaceful house so I need to try stay calm and peaceful when everything around me is just crazy! I should also say that including the kids in planning the day or week, let them feel part of a decision really helps things go smoother, it won’t always be possible.
- More kindness – I saw a kindness calendar the other day… here is the link you make it up at home, you write a kind thing to do on each day between now and Christmas. It can be something simple like ‘give someone you love a hug’ or ‘leave a nice note for a friend’. I’ve decided along with the advent chocolate I’m going to write a note for each day.. there are only 10 days left! The photo is taken from the article so it gives a few ideas.
- Less stress – Read no. 1, 7 & 10. Seriously, if you’re really stressed remember a huge amount of the stress you are feeling, you are actually causing yourself. You may not believe me, but what are you saying to yourself? Listen to your inner talk ‘I can’t cope’, ‘I can’t do everything’, ‘I’m exhausted’, Listen to your inner talk and change it! Catch your thoughts. Also try listening to some guided meditations on tube when going to bed. Anything to get you ‘out of your head’ – deep breathing, yoga, walks in nature. Take action and delegate.. if you feel overwhelmed, something has to give.
- More mulled wine – sorry I meant more relaxation – so whatever you do to relax, try to do it. Remember that the best way to show your kids how to relax and be happy; is to relax and be happy yourself. They have their own ways of relaxing and its not going to be the same as yours; but make sure you allow them this time, whatever it is.
Happy Christmas and a Peaceful New Year to you all
From my Family to yours
Caoimhe O’Grady Tegart
The Confidence Clinic