Christmas is such a magical time of year, the whole of December is full of festivities, fun and holiday cheer. I really love it, but I have no problem admitting that it’s also seriously stressful. There is just SO MUCH to do, and no time to do any of it in. You have all the usual stuff going on – school/nursery runs, work, house work etc, plus you have Father Christmas to visit, gingerbread houses to build, cookies to bake, presents to buy and wrap, cards to write and send, trees to decorate; I could go on and on. I sometimes feel like the joy of this time of year has been stolen by the to do lists, and if I carry on feeling this pressure to do it all I’m going to end up needing a FUE hair transplant. I have to take action, so here’s 9 ways to avoid pulling your hair out this Christmas.
1. Take the Pressure Off
Firstly just take a second and have a think about why you’re feeling so much pressure, and where it’s coming from. Most children are happy to go with the flow, and don’t need to complete a huge checklist of festive activities in December. They really won’t feel like they are missing out. The pressure usually comes from ourselves, maybe from seeing what other people are up to on social media or in our friendship circles. The truth is that yes some people do seem to be able to *do it all*, but that doesn’t mean we have to or should feel the pressure to try. What we should focus on is what ever works for our own family, which leads us to point 2…
2. Decide What’s Important to You
Focusing on the things that are important to you and your family will help you prioritise the huge list of things you might feel like you should be doing this month. Maybe getting a real Christmas tree all together is an important tradition in your family, but spending time faffing with a creepy elf isn’t something you’d consider a priority. If you don’t want to do something, don’t feel any pressure to do it! Christmas traditions are so personal, they are things that have been or will be passed down to future generations and life is way too short to spend time worrying about doing things you don’t even want to do.
Don’t like sending Christmas cards? So don’t. Send family and friends a text and donate the money you would’ve spent on stamps to your favourite charity instead.
Don’t enjoy baking? Don’t do it then. There’s plenty of shop bought Christmas treats out there if you still want something yummy.
Cutting out the things you don’t actually enjoy will leave more time for the things you do and make you feel way less stressed about fitting it all in.
3. Share the load
I’m really guilty of not doing this, and it’s something I need to work on in the future. Delegating, splitting tasks, asking other people to help out or do something for you are all essential to keeping stress at bay during any busy period.
If shopping for presents is stressing you out then why not ask your partner to help you out by choosing presents for certain people? Or if shopping is something you really enjoy, why not ask them to help the kids write their Christmas cards while you pop to the shops?
If your little one’s really love to bake but you’re snowed under at work, why not as the grandparents to spend an afternoon making mince pies while you catch up on emails? There’s nothing better than being served freshly baked food and not having to clean up the mess left behind!
Another great example of sharing the load is cooking Christmas dinner. No one wants to be stuck in the kitchen on their own, so why not delegate the jobs and get everyone involved. Even young children can help peel and prepare veg, your partner and family can get stuck in with making dishes and everyone can help set the table and clear it all away again.
4. Start Early
Something else I’m terrible at, but definitely something that makes December less stressful is starting your preparations early. Deciding where you’ll spend Christmas day and who will cook/bring what means you get can organised early. Starting your Christmas shopping as early as possible means you’ll have less to do in the lead up to the big day and also helps spread the pressure from a financial perspective too. Clare from This Mummy’s Always Right even recommends wrapping presents as you buy them, instead of doing it all Christmas Eve like some of us do (guilty). Leaving everything until the last minute is bound to cause a few hair pulling moments, and is really easy to avoid just by starting early and keeping on top of it.
Having said all of that, I just can’t see myself Christmas shopping in September, that’s organisation levels I will always aspire to – sorry!!
5. Planning & Preparation
Some things can’t be done early, so there inevitably will be things you’ll want to squeeze in before Christmas. Personally for us collecting a real tree and visiting Father Christmas are things are we love to do in the first week of December. Planning ahead as much as possible will alleviate any last minute stress. Lots of grotto visits can be booked in advance, which means you’ll also be able to skip the queue on the day. Booking a day in with the whole family to go get the tree means you won’t have to argue about finding time last minute once everyone’s schedules are all booked up.
6. Schedule in Some Down Time
Christmas can be overwhelming for adults, and often children can end up feeling the same. It’s such a busy month, everything is go go go and full of activities and things to do so kids can end up feeling overstimulated and exhausted. Schedule in some down time for everyone to chill out and just take a breather before the next busy day. Hayley from Devon Mama recommends taking some quiet time to maybe watch a film, read a book or build a puzzle – anything low key that you and the kids enjoy.
7. Don’t Forget Self Care
It’s really easy to forget about yourself at this time of year. You’ve probably got nativity costumes to create, Christmas parties to take your little ones too, presents to buy and wrap and hide. But if you forget to indulge in a little self care you really run the risk of burning out before the big day, and that wouldn’t be good for anyone. Take an afternoon or an evening out, focus on your own needs and leave the worrying to someone else just for a little while. Nicole from The Littlest Darlings loves enjoying a warm bath with a bath bomb to regroup and unwind after a busy festive day, and Sophie from Soph-obsessed enjoys taking the dog for a walk to benefit from a little peace and quiet. Whatever works for you; whatever makes you happy, chills you out and fills your cup – find a little time and make it happen.
8. Focus on the Little Things
Grand gestures, exciting plans and huge expensive activities are a lot of fun, but actually the best memories are usually made during the simplest of days. It really is the little things that count, especially to young children. Spending the afternoon being silly, dancing around to Christmas music and decorating your tree are childhood memories to treasure forever, late night walks around the neighbourhood looking for Christmas lights are great opportunities to take some time out and bond as a family, and watching a Christmas movie cuddled up on the sofa will be remembered as real quality time. Far more so maybe that a stressful afternoon trying to build a perfect gingerbread house, or create perfect Rudolph shaped footprints for all of your Christmas cards.
Relaxing, slowing down and going with the flow a little bit will probably result in a much more chilled out atmosphere, and the opportunity for some really special little moments to happen on their own. Choosing to strip back and focus on the simple pleasures of Christmas rather than being the perfect ‘Pinterest Parent’ is Jenny from Might Mama Bear‘s top tip for keeping Christmas stress free.
9. Remember What it’s Really About
Christmas was never supposed to be about irritating elves and elaborate Christmas crafts. It’s not really about visiting every attraction or ticking off to do lists we’ve made in our heads after scrolling through Instagram. It’s not about recreating every festive idea we’ve seen on Pinterest.
It’s about family, friends, loved ones. It’s about spending time together – laughing, singing, dancing, playing. It’s about appreciating and celebrating everything we have, immersing ourselves in the magic of this time of year.
Your children will never look back and wonder why you didn’t hand write your Christmas cards. They will never ask why you didn’t bake Christmas cake from scratch. When they look back they will treasure all the time you spent together, all the love they felt from you, and how lucky they were to grow up with all these amazing memories. That’s what Christmas is all about, and you get to keep all of your hair.
*This is a collaborative post*