Stressed? Ways to avoid pre-Christmas madness

Ah Christmas! That time of year when nerves get frayed and tempers sometimes flare. No surprise, really, when you remember that all of us – grown-ups and children - are tired and in need of a holiday. Yet for parents the pre-Christmas tasks are mounting up, not to mention arranging a family summer holiday and get-togethers with the in-laws. It helps to pace yourself and keep things simple. Children love the festive traditions but a grumpy mum and dad? Not so much. Here are 8 tips for getting through this frantic time.

Try researching gift ideas online at home and then write a list of what you plan to buy and at which shop. Then set out purposefully with list in hand. This avoids wandering aimlessly around the shopping mall for hours.

Write a list of all your pre-Christmas tasks and then trying to knock a few of them off because they’re not really important, eg, do you really need to decorate the living room with home-made bunting? Delegate as much as you can – hubby to pick up the tree, string up Christmas lighting, Grandma to make the Christmas cake etc.

Harness your support network and swap baby-sitting so you and a friend get child-free time to go shopping. Or make it a fun occasion by getting together to do the Christmas baking while the kids watch a DVD.

There are a lot of social get-togethers in the days and weeks leading up to Christmas. To avoid meltdowns keep to your children’s bedtimes and routines as much as possible by persuading friends and relatives that early dinners are a great idea. Then pop the kids in their PJs and head home in plenty of time for bed. Also try to limit their quota of sweets and junk food – you’ll thank yourself later.

You know the kids will love whatever you do – Christmas trees, lights and shop-bought mince pies are all super exciting to your average three-year-old. He won’t care if your home-made decorations are unlikely to win many hits on Pinterest. So maybe leave your “home beautiful” aspirations until you have more time on your hands.

Exercise is good for gaining a healthy perspective on life. A daily brisk walk clears the head and lowers stress levels. So does breathing – spend a few minutes each day breathing in, holding, then letting it out – try it in the car.

Neutralise negative vibes from stressed, tired people around you by plastering a smile on your face. Warm greetings and polite chitchat are also a good way to spread the love at a time of year when everyone is feeling the pressure.

This is for those times when you really can’t face another minute with your in-laws/hubbies’ mates/the noise. Here’s what you do: fake an incoming phone call from a friend and quickly disappear outside to “answer” it. This is a good way of getting some time out to regroup and relax before rejoining the fray.



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