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Is the pre-Christmas stress building up?

It is pretty rare to find a parent that is feeling calm at this time of year. There seems to be so much going on. We are sleep deprived either from an overload of work, too many social engagements, from children coming down with bugs or our heads are exploding with the amount we have to do to keep the family running. There are however a lot of things we can do to help counteract the stress. It is important to remember that if we don’t slow down, it is like running a car on empty with no oil, our bodies can’t cope and we can find ourselves crashing down with a horrible flu so please read on and take action on at least one or two things.

  1. Are you drinking enough water? It is so easy to forget to drink and yet it makes such a difference. Interesting fact about water – if we are feeling thirsty it means we are already a bit dehydrated so make sure you drink before this happens. I personally fill a 1 litre bottle and try to drink it all. I don’t always remember but I try! Remember caffeine (in coffee and tea) robs us of water but herb teas are good.
  2. It is so easy as parents to eat on the hoof or grab for sweet things to give us an energy boost. I find if I start the day off badly, it goes downhill from there. A savoury breakfast can be a really good start. Two scrambled eggs on wholemeal toast are really good but if you are in a hurry then just have toast and peanut butter or if you can spare a few extra moments then try toast and avocado.  Nuts are great too – almonds and brazil nuts. If you’ve had something decent for breakfast it helps stabilise blood sugar and then you reach less for the sweet things after that.
  3. Sleep – this is such a hard one if you are dealing with children waking in the night or are waking up in a panic about all that you have to get done.  Could you put aside a couple of nights a week when you go to bed early? It can make a big difference. Also, look on you tube for meditation/relaxation recordings.  There are some great ones that can be really calming.
  4. Ask yourself – are there some things on my list that I can delegate or just decide not to do? Everyone has different tasks but I know with myself that sometimes I have to stop and think – ‘Is this really necessary?’
  5. We all worry about making our children happy and if we are in the middle of buying Christmas presents we get that panic – ‘Are they going to be disappointed on Christmas morning if I haven’t bought enough?’ It can be really helpful to get things into perspective. If you read about the charities that help families who really have nothing it helps us realise that we can cut back on how many gifts we give them. What they really remember are the rituals and time together. The high from the gifts is short-lived. 
  6. We are bombarded with images of the perfect family scenes, beautifully dressed children with exquisitely wrapped presents beside them.  This just isn’t how life is. Let go of the idea of perfection and make ‘It is perfectly good enough’ be ok for you.  Letting go helps take the pressure off us.  Children want parents who aren’t stressed and have time to laugh and enjoy their company.  They don’t care if the house isn’t perfectly clean or the food isn’t all cooked to perfection. They just want a mummy or daddy who can give them time and attention.

So there we have it.  I know this because I have spent so many years getting it wrong!  I’ve wound up panic-buying presents that my kids really didn’t need, I’ve exhausted myself so much trying to get it all right that I’ve been short-tempered and didn’t spend time appreciating how wonderful young children are and how magical is to be with them.

So I hope you can learn from my mistakes and enjoy the festive season as much as you can.