Ah, Christmas! Here we are again! Hasn’t it rolled around fast?
That odd time of year where we decide to do all the things for all the people and wonder why we feel like we need another holiday to get over the holiday come New Year! Perhaps this is your first Christmas as a mum and you really want it to be special, or perhaps you’ve done this a few times now but your Little Ones have reached an age where they really “get it” and Christmas has a new excitement to it.
Either way, I’ve put together a list of 7 ways to make sure your 2017 Christmas is as stressful as possible (SPOILER ALERT: Don’t do these things!):
- Say ‘yes’ to every festive event you get invited to – You know you definitely can’t say no to any family events, and definitely have to go to your friend’s Christmas party for Little Ones. Oh, and don’t forget about that Teatime with Santa event your in-laws said you all must go to (they have a grotto for photo opportunities…) and then there’s the Christmas craft afternoon at the nursery…of course, the answer here is that you don’t HAVE to say ‘yes’ to everything you’re invited to and indeed, if it causes you stress, you shouldn’t (yes, even family!). I do appreciate this can be difficult to balance with excited friends and family but there are some simple ways to work around it: if you have a busy day, follow it up with a quiet one. If you have an overstimulating event on a morning, keep the afternoon as calm as possible.
- Don’t schedule in time just for you – I followed this exact tip myself a few weeks ago and I ended up really stressed. After having Violet in a leap and poorly at the same time for 5 weeks, then Dexter poorly, work being incredibly busy and half term…I felt overwhelmedI needed to rest, try and catch up, have some space and some quiet, but instead we had a weekend full of really lovely things…but very busy, overstimulating things. The combination of no space, no quiet and no sleep was too much. The build up of adrenalin and cortisol was too much. I had to go on lockdown and clear my diary for a week to catch up. While it’s perfectly fine to have a week free of plans if you feel the need to, ideally you should have regular breaks scheduled in for you. If you find it hard to carve out big chunks of time, try just 10 minutes a day (my free Mum’s & Little Ones Meditation Bundle is a great starting place!).
- Focus on making everything ‘perfect’ – The perfect gifts for everyone. The perfect wrapping paper (tied with a ribbon, of course). The handmade cards and tags (from your Little One’s hand and footprints..?). The perfect Christmas outfit for your Little One’s perfect holiday photo to send to everyone. The perfect Christmas dinner with all the trimmings (that takes a week to make everything). The perfectly placed ornaments on the perfect tree. Don’t forget the rest of the house decorations…we end up making lists of lists! I’m not saying DON’T do any or all of these things if you want to. Just, again, if you’re feeling overly stressed, take a step back and assess what’s really necessary for you and your family to have a wonderful Christmas. And remember to let go of perfectionism!
- Let naptime slide – With all of those events and activities to attend to and all of that planning to do, it doesn’t matter if your Little One misses their naps for a couple of weeks, does it? You can catch up after Christmas, can’t you….Here’s the thing: Little Ones NEED naps! They might not always seem like it, but it’s important to remember our old friends, adrenaline and cortisol, who appear when our Little Ones are overtired. It makes them bounce off the walls and gives them a ‘second wind’ and us the impression that they’re just not tired! They are in fact the complete opposite…overtired and in desperate need of a nap! So should you just not go to ANY events that fall around naptime? Again, it’s about balance. If you have a day where their usual nap patterns have been up and down, keep the following day or two as clear as possible, at least around their naptimes, so they can catch up.
- Let bedtime slip – It’s extra magical to go to Christmas events once the sun has gone down, isn’t it? And lovely to throw out the rules and snuggle up as a family in front of a Christmas film on an evening. But, following on from tip #4, too much of this can have a real knock-on effect and cause quite a sleep deficit for your Little One (and, ultimately, you!). Adrenaline and cortisol build ups also cause more frequent night-waking, longer night wakes and earlier starts. Combine this with interrupted and missed naps and you’re on a course for chronic overtiredness. The advice is the same as above: enjoy what you want to but keep an eye on awake times and bring bedtime forward the next day to catch up.
- Don’t think about how your Little One is experiencing things – We often plan out a lot of events for our Little Ones to go to or activities for them to take part in, hoping they will create some memorable moments to look back on over the years. So there’s Christmas parties, Santa visits, Christmas activities, family and friends and fun…but always STOP and think: “how is it for them?”. If they are silent and withdrawn at the Christmas party, are they enjoying it? If they scream when they go in to see Santa Claus, is it a good idea to make them sit on his knee? If they are bouncing off the walls every evening before bed, is this Christmas excitement or a build up of overwhelm and adrenaline? And, again, I’m not at all saying, don’t take part if you want to! I’m just saying, think about how your Little One is experiencing an event – just because it’s intended to be fun, it doesn’t mean they as an individual will find it so. Keep an eye on them, block out the excitement and noise and respond to the signals they are giving you
- Don’t get extra help – And to round it all off nicely, aside from doing everything perfectly, we often are doing it all by ourselves too. Because it’s us who want the month to be perfect so why should we feel like we can ask for help with it? If our Little Ones sleep goes out of the window, oh well, I suppose it’s back to the drawing board in January and it’s not like we’re not used to sleep deprivation anyway, is it…? It doesn’t have to be this way! You can and SHOULD ask for help as often as you need to! Be that with the Christmas prep, your partner, a friend or family member to watch your Little Ones for a couple of hours while you relax or asking guests to bring a dish along for Christmas dinner. You are loved and most people WANT to help you in any way they can – let them!
So, this Christmas, why don’t we stop excluding a very important person from the true joy of the season? Let’s make this year special for us mums too! Will you let me help you to do that?
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