Rushing around, working out what you need to get, how soon should you buy the turkey and the stress of dreading the day with family you would rather not spend Christmas day with or alternatively the overwhelming feeling of loneliness as you and your children face Christmas alone with no other adults present.
Parents today also feel pressurised into buying presents they know they can not really afford and making the day ‘magic’.
Here are Julie’s Top Tips for enjoying Christmas
- If you have young children relax on your own expectations. A simple Christmas meal and time together will be much more enjoyable than running around, being stressed and having a short fuse with everyone. For children having time with one or both parents is much more important than a perfectly laid plan.
- On Christmas Day go for a good Winter Walk. Fresh air will help with all the energy your children will have and calm down the excitement of the day. It gives you some time out as well from rushing around. Maybe everyone has new hats, scarves and gloves to open before the walk and then hot chocolate and a Christmas tree chocolate decoration once back home. Being outside and walking or moving helps produce mood enhancing endorphins and burns off stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline.
- Get children involved as they love having a sense of purpose and involvement Have a special family up ‘to do’ list. Make it enjoyable: Making a decoration for the tree, helping make mince pies, homemade crackers, decorating their room
- As far as possible, stick to the mealtimes and bedtimes your child is used to. Young children especially find great security in routines and your child will be reassured by knowing that some things continue to stay the same amidst the chaos!
- Be practical about the different visits and special events organised over Christmas. Children who are overtired and over excited will become more challenging in their behaviour. Try to have time where they can rest in between events. Have clear and fair expectations. Prepare an area where your child can go to if they feel overwhelmed and need space to calm down, this could be a large cushion you have at home but also when you go to friends and families to visit. Have a box with a few play items which your child can access whilst having a ‘chilled out time’.
- If your child struggles with noise and the ‘chaos’ of social events use headphones which can block out some of the noise and reduce risk of sensory overload.
- If you are visiting relatives or friends who your children do not see regularly use photos or skype to familiarise faces and have an opportunity to say ‘hello’ before meeting face to face.
- Once dinner has been eaten don’t expect children to continue sitting whilst adults continue to chat. Be realistic and let them get down to go and continue playing.
- If your child is finding it difficult to slow or calm down encourage breathing techniques. I use ‘stop, breathe, think’ to bring the child’s focus back to here and now. Big deep breaths and support when behaviour is becoming manic can really help.
- Enjoy and point out the simple things of Christmas, time together, Christmas songs. Try to come up with one idea which will help make this Christmas the one you remember Eg- Everyone wears onesies or wears Santa hats, or a snow ball fight with cotton wool balls.