I got a rude shock the first few Christmases as a new parent. It just wasn’t the same anymore, it just wasn’t fun. It was as if the joy had seeped out of Christmas for me. It became stressful and about managing everyone and their needs. After conversing with older mothers about this phenomenon, they concurred. I was officially initiated into a whole new world of reality about what Christmas is like from the ‘other side’. With a few tips from these ‘old girls’ and some of my own adaptions, I’m sharing my strategies to get through Christmas and it works a treat every time.
- It’s not about you
Yep. If you can wrap your head around this concept your management of Christmas expectations go where they need to be. It’s about the kids now, you’re now the mother, you’ve had your moment in the sun, now it’s time for you to create the magic. Shift along the bench, sister.
- It’s Christmas TIME not Christmas Day
Tra-la-la-la, spread the Christmas cheer out, hum as you decorate the tree, think joyfully of others as you shop, write your Christmas cards to the people you care about and don’t put all the focus on THE DAY. Because as a parent who gets thrown in the mix with your partner’s whole extended family, often spending the day with them and not your own brood, it can feel strange, confronting and it certainly can feel like you’re at the bottom of the pecking order. Hey, it may sound dismal but I know I’m important to my family, my kids and a few select friends, that’s absolutely cool. I’m all good and so should you be. (Thumbs up and a dose of concrete to help toughen up).
- Present Management
This was my first and best tip from my mum. Receive your gift, thank the person but DON’T OPEN IT STRAIGHT AWAY. Focus on what the kids get, they want you to look, comment, marvel, help unwrap and squirrel away the wrapping paper. Leave your present(s) till the end, it may even give you a little frizzle of excitement in anticipation of actually having a gift.
- Don’t Dis Christmas
Whatever you do, don’t be a ‘bah humbug’. In this world of daily reality checks (see point 2) it’s a little period where we can dream, wonder, hope and re-enter the world of magic with our children. And hopefully find all good things come to an end, if we’ve had a bad year or a time to make plans for a new year ahead.
- Lock in LESS
It’s a good time of year to be less scheduled. I don’t like to initiate locked in dates, I’d rather go a little more with the flow and the spontaneity that this time of year brings. Pacing yourself is important.
- Good Food Quotas
A great time of year to keep those good food quota up, choosing salads (with protein) of lunch as much as possible with the hot weather. Choosing prawns, salads, ham, trout at Christmas lunch and leaving less room for heavy English traditional desserts. It makes me happier if I do this as I head away from Christmas and into the New Year, often in a bikini where the ‘eye don’t lie!”
- Mineral Water is My Best Friend
As long as it bubbles, is cold and can be served in a wine glass or with lime, it’s a celebratory drink to me. I do overdose a little on mineral or soda water around this time of year, to keep well away from overdoing the booze. It makes me feel better the next day and there are lower sodium options for sparkling water, just check out the label on the back. Better still, buy a soda stream and bubble your own till the cows come home.
- Do It Your Way
There are pros and cons to having your own little family, answerable to nobody, slaves to no-one. In the old days (insert parents and grandparents well-worn stories here) the younger generations of families used to have to do it exactly like the matriarch or patriarch wanted it. They had to be obedient and do as they’re told. That meant hot Christmas food when you want cold Christmas food, racing up and down highways for separate breakfast, lunch and Christmas dinners when you’re dying to stay put in your own home so the kids can place with their new presents and relax.
Nowadays it’s easier to do it your way. In my case that means alternating families every other year, not racing around in the car in between meals just to please the oldies. Nope. Too stressful, our traffic is triple as bad as in their day, we’re simply not doing it. If it means upsetting people, so be it. It’s a stressful time with small kids, hot weather and mobile phones ringing off the dial every minute. Everyone can cope if we spread the cheer around. We have one family Christmas get-together mid-December, possibly another on Christmas Eve and just one simple meal on Christmas day. Otherwise it’s too much and everyone dreads it.
It’s a time to challenge yourself to get relaxed, buy yourself a little treat if you’re anticipating getting sweet nothing, even find a little time for yourself to do what you do best. If that’s a bath full of bubbles, a cup of tea, face mask and a good book all at the same time, that’s awesome. That’s where you’ll find me whistling ‘Santa Claus is Coming To Town’.