A Happy Family Christmas: the realistic way – guest blog by Sam James 

 

 

Christmas time with babies and young children can be a magical time. It can also be a stressful time. Parenthood is an ongoing wrestle between ideal expectations versus the reality, and Christmas can be a stark reminder of this. That’s why I am going to share my 3 top tips to help you to create a realistically happy Christmas for you and your family.

 

I remember our son’s first Christmas and I had put so much pressure on myself to have the ‘perfect’ Christmas, fuelled by my perception of what all my new mummy friends were preparing and what the world of adverts, films and social media were telling me Christmas should be like.

 

The reality was nothing like it. The stress built like a pressure cooker, and it felt like everything that could go wrong did go wrong:

  • Our trip home from South Wales to Norfolk, was delayed by several days due to heavy snowfall (I normally love snow, but not in 2010!)
  • My husband and I ended up with food poisoning
  • My grandmothers water pipe burst in her garage
  • My parents washing machine broke
  • We argued with our families. I remember hiding in my room, messaging friends, wishing I was in my own home.
  • Our son was poorly on Christmas Day and I spent a considerable amount of my day on the phone to 111.
  • I lost my voice on Boxing day and woke up with conjunctivitis.

 

I vividly remember feeling so disappointed, upset and exhausted. At the time this was all I could focus on. That Christmas was a failure.

 

Yet, if I were to share photos of our son’s first Christmas it won’t show any of that. It will show him with his stocking, opening presents with his cousins, having his first Christmas lunch, families laughing and playing together.

 

In reality, 8 years on, I am able to recognise that despite all of the drama that surrounded Christmas 2010, there were many moments to treasure. With hindsight I wish I had taken the pressure off myself and my family to have a ‘perfect’ time, that I had lowered my expectations and embraced the time together warts and all.

 

It is so easy to get swept along with what we think everyone else is doing, and feeling like we should be keeping up with everyone else. So, how can you try and make Christmas work for you without the stress?

Create a Realsitic Happy Christmas.

  • Create your own family traditions

Don’t force yourself to do things that ‘everyone else’ always seems to be doing, if it doesn’t fit for you. Everyone’s situations are totally different – what works for your friend or your sibling’s family might lead to huge financial strain for you, or a really uncomfortable family situation.

 

  • Focus on the time together.

What do you want Christmas to feel like for you and your family? People remember the feelings they are left with far longer than the things that they are left with. As humans we are wired to seek out connections with each other, and being with other people and sharing positive experiences far out ways material objects, in terms of long-term happiness. There is a post on social media, written by a teacher for parents as a reminder of just this – that when they go back to school when asked about Christmas, the children share stories of staying in their pj’s for the day, playing games, watching films, going for walks. If they mention presents it tends to be the last thing they talk about.

 

  • Soften your expectations.

It is going to sound pessimistic, but I now accept that there are going to be moments when I want to scream at everyone, that someone will may end up ill, that there will be some very random present choices and some things won’t go to plan. By accepting these things in advance, I won’t feel like Christmas is ruined if it happens. So, be honest with yourself, and where can you lower the bar of expectation this Christmas?

 

 

If you’d love more tips for reducing the Christmas stress you can find my 8 top tips here https://samjamescoaching.co.uk/tinsel-tantrums/

 

Enjoy your Christmas in whatever way you choose. I can’t wait for snuggles on the sofa in pj’s with my tribe!

Save my top tips below to your phone !

 

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