Does Christmas fill you with festive cheer? The John Lewis ad, hot mulled wine, Michael Buble on Spotify and the aroma of Starbucks’ latest latte. But as December rolls on it can turn from the ’most wonderful’ to the most stressful time of year.
Pressure mounts up trying to be Instagram perfect & you’re feeling inadequate when your timeline is full of Alpha playground mums with their Kirsty handmade Xmas decs, Mary Berry puds & declarations of ‘presents all bought and wrapped’ in September.
In contrast you’ve crawled up to the finishing line roots showing, squeezed into your spanx and feeling more frazzled than your turkey. So if you’re pondering ways to cut stress, save money and tame over-the-top traditions, setting simplicity strategies in place early will keep you from being swept up in festive madness.
So chill out, grab a coffee and read our top 11 tips to surviving the family Christmas madness with your sanity intact.
1 Focus on what’s most important
No time to write Xmas cards and feeling anxious every time one drops on the mat. Ask yourself which are the 10 most important ones – maybe your old aunt who’s not managed to master email? Try sending messages on social media or announce a donation to charity. Without a doubt your friends will be grateful you’re soothing their own guilt.
2 Drop high-stress rituals
The panto, ballet, Elf on the shelf, grottos, carol singing, Santa train, Xmas eve box, Santa letter, PNP video, home-made advent calendar… do you feel frazzled just at the thought of them?. If you’ve over-planned but struggling to deliver – make a switch. True, families thrive on traditions, but it’s less about the event itself, which your kids may have outgrown, and more about time together. Drop expensive, high-stress rituals in favour of something simple. Or just the ones they really love.
3 Be satisfied with “good enough”
Ask, “If I don’t do this, what will happen?”. Don’t always go for bigger and better. Does the tree have to be hand-picked from an enchanted forest? Will it ruin Xmas day if you haven’t got 7 types of veg? Think back to the most magic memories you had as a child and they will likely be based on more simple rituals.
4 Remember to have fun
Give yourself permission to reclaim a bit of festive fun & let go a little. At the same time as you’re planning your party dress, don’t forget to book your childcare. Booking a babysitter an hour earlier than you’re out the door gives the kids time to settle and you time to get ready without someone calling for ‘mum’. You can even book a babysitter for the morning after the night before & recover in peace … bliss.
5 Love your lists
Getting things down on paper can really help you stay sane in the silly season. With everything on your plate it’s easy to buy a gift twice or miss someone off your list. Even planning meals on paper can prevent you from buying enough food to last you til Easter.
You can’t do everything so divide chores between you family and if you have visitors to share the burden You can even delegate childcare to a babysitter so you have time to get those roots or nails done or just get the house or presents organised.
7 Hold on to everyday routines
If the kids need down time or you like to read for half an hour before bed, don’t give that up in favour of yet another Christmas chore. If escaping on a date night with your husband keeps you sane … keep it that way. Our everyday practices help calm and centre us.
8 Cut the gift list
Rein in gift exchanges that have been outgrown or lost their meaning. Limit gifts to children only or organise a secret Santa for the wider family or friendship groups. Shop on the web and tie in with friends on 3 for 2’s. If you want to hit the high street, book childcare so you can enjoy browsing and lunching without the whinging.
9 Limit travel if you can
No one likes long car journeys. If you have to see both yours and your partner’s families and a plethora of relatives to boot, why not arrange to see one set a few weeks before/after Christmas. It’s really difficult for children to maintain first rate behaviour when doing the rounds of friends and relatives and not everyone remembers what it’s like to have young children.
10 Don’t be afraid to say no
Relax by looking at what you can and can’t do. Instead of having pre-Christmas drinks with every group of friends & work colleagues, how about pushing some back to the New Year? This gives you a little pick me up when the Christmas cheer has faded.
11 Make sure your fridge is working
You’ll need a nice cold glass of wine when it’s all over and you’re finally able to binge watch your box sets in peace. Bliss!