Who want’s a stress-free ‘Happy Family’ Christmas?
Christmas is just around the corner so lots of parents have been asking me how to plan for a stress-free
‘Happy Family Christmas’.
Here’s my top tips:
- Make plans but remember babies and children are unpredictable so prepared to make changes or cancel plans if it all gets to much.
- LIMIT stimulation! I know it’s Christmas but for most babies and children the volume of stimulation is just too much, try to slow down and allow for quiet time each day and preferably several times a day.
- Be realistic about how much you can manage, overworking yourself or preparing a 5 course Christmas dinner is pointless if it takes you away from your children, who quite frankly, in most cases, would be just as happy with turkey dinosaurs and chips!
- If you are planning a big day and inviting lots of guests, write a list of what needs doing and delegate, being the host does not mean you have to do all the work, the worst they can say is No.
- Speaking of No, don’t be afraid of saying No, it’s easier to say no than agree to something you do not want to do then be left seething with resentment.
- Adjust your expectations and try not to take your child’s behaviour personally. Often parents have this notion that if they buy loads of toys for their children they will be eternally grateful and do everything that is asked of them, you cannot buy co-operation.
- If you believe your expectations are reasonable, in terms of behaviour, try to establish what is triggering the behaviour, behaviour is an outward reaction of an unmet need in a child, one that they are unable to communicate in words. Take a moment and step away from any audience or distractions and try to connect with the child, find how they are feeling and what you can do to help them, this may mean changing your plans or leaving where you are so be prepared for inconvenience if you want to help them.
- Be selective about who you spend time with and set boundaries, who you are prepared to visit and when, if you don’t enjoy spending time with Aunt Maude, don’t go!
Finally, be realistic about what you can afford, if you haven’t already purchased gifts set a budget based on what you can afford and stick to it, there is truly nothing worse than starting the new years paying off Christmas debts. If you have children of varying ages you do not have to spend an equal amount of money on each for it to be fair, if you have young children that are too young to even know what Christmas is or have not specified what gifts they want, make the most of it, it won’t be long before they’re handing you a list! If money is tight you could offer older children ‘vouchers’ or promises of things that you can do together in the spring but remember to fulfil any promises made.
I also wanted to include a few tips for parents who are separated or may not being spending Christmas day with their child due to work. I’m not speaking to you from some theoretical view here, I won’t be spending Christmas day with one of my children so here’s what I’ll be doing.
You don’t have to celebrate Christmas on the 25th December to make it special.
- Pick out a day that suits you and make that the day that you celebrate.
- Get all family members or friends on board and ensure they are willing to help make that day special.
- Take advantage of the fact it will be much cheaper to eat out on a day in the run up to Christmas day as opposed to the day itself.
The most important thing is for you deal with any anger or frustration you are feeling about this before the day. Go and talk to someone about how your feeling, this could be a friend, sympathetic relative or even a professional. Kids are incredibly intuitive, they will pick up on the slightest tension and when added to all of the excitement and expectation of Christmas it’s like a bomb waiting to explode.
I hope this helps. Sadly I’m fully booked now until the New Year, however if you would like to start the New Year with a bang and become more confident about you parenting choices email firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more.