How many times have you heard the C word already? Of course, I’m talking about Christmas! Due to the topsy turvy year we’ve had so far, many people are keen to get the joy of Christmas started as early as possible. To be honest, I might be one of those people. After covid and the (brief compared to other states) isolation we experienced I reviewed quite a few things in my life, including how busy I wanted my family to be and what kind of life I wanted us to have on a daily, weekly and yearly basis. So, this brings me to Christmas. I want to make similar plans for Christmas. I want to ensure that Christmas is a fun and relaxing time that I absolutely enjoy and treasure.
If this sounds too good to be true, just wait until you implement these 5 steps and make your Christmas your best yet.
I like to sit down with the kids at the beginning of the holidays and make a list together about the things they’d like to do. Depending on how old your kids are you could separate them into different categories such as “with friends”, “with family”, “R&R” etc. Use the list as a starting point to brainstorm ideas at the beginning of the holidays and as a point of reference anytime during the holidays when the kids complain about being bored.
The goal is that by the end of the holidays everyone feels satisfied that they did what they wanted to do during their time off. This strategy can be used for holidays of any length. Simply ask everyone to make their own list so everyone feels like they have a say in the plans.Ensure the lists have a balance of active and restful activities to maintain overall health and wellness throughout the holiday.
Dealing with personality clashes
Christmas is notorious for issues that have been seething underneath the surface to bubble up and overflow and become bigger than they ever needed to be. The two main reasons this happens at Christmas time is 1. alcohol and 2. stress. Many people see Christmas as a time to let their hair down and enjoy more alcoholic beverages than they usually do, but sometime alcohol makes us feel braver than we are without it and we lose our inhibitions and our filters and those thoughts we’ve been holding onto and stewing over for months come up and out our mouths before we even know what we’re saying. My advice – let the anger go, have your alcohol if you want to and relax. If you haven’t brought up this issue with you family or friends before Christmas, now is not the time or the place. If you’ve been holding onto it for this long, it’s more about you now than it ever was about them.
The stress issue is what this whole blog is going to prevent for you, so that won’t be a contributing factor come Christmas time. Personality clashes will always be there though. Often it’s because everyone comes together under one roof for a longer time than they usually do at any other time of the year. There might be a few families suddenly sharing spaces for two or three days or more. The good news is that you can probably predict the personality clashes right now because these people are your nearest and dearest. So you’ve got plenty of time to come up with a plan to deal with them. Some strategies involve walking away, playing with any children in the house instead of being in the kitchen with everyone else, have some games organised so everyone isn’t just sitting around bored all the time and preparing as much in advance as you can in order to reduce the stress.
It’s never too early to start preparing. Considering it’s already November it’s definitely time to start planning now. I’ve just started doing a lot of Christmas present shopping online. There are good sales at the moment so I’m taking advantage of that. I’ve also put in an order through those Scholastic catalogues that come home in the kids school bags. They are full of great Christmas present ideas. The key is to make a list of who you want to buy presents for and then start adding to that list what you’ve bought (or ordered) for them. This way you’ll always know what you’ve still got to look for and what is already done. If you’re struggling with anyone, ask a relative for ideas – ask their parents, brother or sister – they may have mentioned something to them that they’d like.
What meals/snacks/specials are you going to need for the few days over Christmas you won’t want to visit the shops? Plan breakfasts, snacks, lunches and dinners. You don’t have to necessarily eat them in that order, but they are now the options that you know you have everything for so they’ll be no last minute panicked race out to the shops.
Where can you go when you need to escape? Maybe the noise is getting too much for you or the personalities are starting to grate on one another or maybe you have decided that you need some time out every day to get your through the holiday season. Have somewhere quiet and peaceful you can go to both inside and outside of the house. The key to this plan is to know when you need to go to this space and make your exit before your anxiety or anger levels reach boiling point. I highly recommend having some time out at least once a day in order to avoid needing the escape plan at the last minute.
It is your job to ensure that you are looked after. No one else is going to do that.
Do you notice a sudden decrease in the behaviour standard over the holidays or around Christmas? Theoretically it should improve – along with their happiness and resilience. Once the routine of school is over, everyone gets a break from that morning rush, being told and when and where to eat, having their life run by bells and schedules and the generally mind-exhausting work that we call ‘school’. After an initial ‘lost’ period, the kids (and us) should settle into the new holiday routine and the ability to choose what we do and alternating between periods of activity and rest.
Depending on the age of your kids make that list I talked about earlier of activities they want to do over the holidays. If they’re younger, make a list of the toys and games they want to play with and every day tick one of these off the list. Do a clean-out of the toys before Christmas and donate anything in good order that they’re not playing with anymore.
Feed them their ‘normal’ food most days over the holidays. Food and the additives, preservatives, colours, sugars and other ingredients in it plays a major role in the negative behaviours in our children including fidgety, inattention, fighting between each other, short fuses, not sleeping properly, amongst others. Often over the holidays and especially at Christmas we like to treat the kids with ‘special’ food or desserts that we don’t regularly feed them. If this is done every day or every second day the behaviours that can be linked to these foods simply merge into everyday behaviour and we can even assign them as personality traits. Be very selective about what and when and how often you feed your children this type of food and be ready for any consequences.
In conclusion, spend some time identifying what you’d like to enjoying doing during these next holidays and then enact a plan to make sure it happens. Have an escape plan and put it into action before you boil over and say something you’ll regret later. Merry Christmas everyone and stay safe.