I love Christmas, I particularly love Christmas Eve… I think its my favorite day of the year, it’s the anticipation and the excitement, and of course this day means so much more when you have young children in the house. We have 3, so it is very very very exciting, and I am a big child at Christmas too, my husband reminds me regularly.
However it’s the weeks leading up to Christmas that are killing me! I’m exhausted and worn out from everything that’s going on… I don’t know if I can explain it but I’ll try.
It’s all the extra big and small things that are happening… the various meet ups with friends and family which starts in November (which I love, but it does add pressure). It’s also the concerts, plays, pantos, Santa visits, Christmas parties (for kids and adults), selling raffle tickets, buying raffle tickets, donating food /money/ clothes, getting projects completed, Christmas jumpers bought, hats, hairbands, trees, decorations, wreaths, Christmas cards, (don’t forget to write and post them!) buying presents, food shopping, clothes shopping, turkey/ham (order/pick up/cook), tons of chocolate/biscuits/treats that we start to exchange and begin eating weeks before Christmas because we need the energy! I can’t keep up with my life sometimes… not to mention our elf on the shelf has been really naughty this year!
I don’t want to seem to be saying ‘Bah Humbug’ because that’s really not the case. But I do think we need to say ‘No’ sometimes and realize that our kids are getting just as overloaded and exhausted as we are. How can we say no to our kids, without being the meanest parents ever!!! I had the thought this week that our own kids will feel this same pressure to do so much when they’re adults, because its what they had in their childhood.
Now the other thing I feel I need to mention, is that it’s a very difficult time of year for people too. I have some close friends and family, who have lost loved ones in the last year, and others years ago, but they will probably still struggle to get through this time of year, because let’s face it, Christmas is all about family. Some of the songs that are being blared and sung by us in the car (Thanks to Christmas FM) are actually making me very sad, when I think about certain families and how hard Christmas must be for them. One thing is for certain I don’t agree with Slade ‘I wish it could be Christmas every day’.
On the upside, I’m glad Christmas has become more about giving and caring for others. I really want my kids to know more about how it feels to help others. Last year I promised myself (in one of these blogs) that I would get the kids more involved; I had wanted us to go into a children’s hospital with some toys around Christmas time. We didn’t get around to doing that (too busy ;-)) but yesterday while we were at a routine appointment in Temple St Children’s Hospital we visited a friend and brought some cakes, chocolates and biscuits and handed them around the ward. Its not much but its a start. I only had my eldest child with me, but she was delighted and wanted to visit the wards again at Christmas. I also had to remember that we did some fund raising during the year for Laura Lynn Children’s Hospice, after visiting a few times. So we are moving slowly in the direction we wanted to go despite 30,000 other things that we are trying to do at the same time.
Top Tip for a less Stressful Christmas build up:
- NO: Don’t be afraid to say ‘No’ sometimes or at least ask for help. You can’t do everything, it’s not humanly possible.
- Lists and online shopping: I’d be totally lost without both of these. I also often ring shops to see if they have the item I need before making the journey.
- Choice: If you have too much going on, give the kids a choice – would you rather do A or B – warning – this is a tricky one if there is no consensus.
- Lazy days: Lazy days are needed – watching movies or not going out much. We shouldn’t feel guilty about these days. Downtime is needed in our hectic lives. On the other side fresh air and daylight, will help our energy levels on those long days over Christmas.
- Wind down: my kids are wired to the moon with everything that’s going on, and they’re not sleeping well. They need plenty of wind down / screen free time to play or read before sleep. It’s needed even more if its late already when you come home – we all came home around 9pm from a show my daughter was in last night and it look her at least an hour to come down from the high. I also find lying down with my kids in bed, and doing some deep breathing helps them a lot to calm down.
- Talk: I think it’s good to talk to kids about the other side of Christmas – the side where there are sick children and adults, family members who are no longer around or loved ones who are away and can’t get home. Anything that helps to ensure they are considerate and empathetic towards others, and grateful for all they have got.
- Stay Calm: Do your best to stay in control, know you’re own limits, know that you can’t please everyone and take some deep breaths, and remind yourself how amazing you are for doing all you do.
Love and best wishes to you and yours this Christmas, I hope you all get a rest and a little bit of peace…
Caoimhe O’Grady Tegart is a Child and Teen Life Coach and founder of the Confidence Clinic.