Christmas is here, the decorations are out, and everyone is happy but as lovely as the festive season is, it can also be quite overwhelming. When you have over-excited children running around, mountains of presents to wrap and the biggest turkey you’ve ever seen waiting to be cooked, it’s no wonder that things can start to get a little bit stressful, and as much as you try to avoid it, burnout at Christmas can be a very real possibility.
As December picks up speed, we all rush around, trying our best to make sure that everything is perfect, but then something always happens that makes us question whether it’s all worth it.
You get flashbacks to last year as you find yourself having the same argument with your Great Auntie Sue over who left the coffee ring on the new dining room table, while at the same time desperately trying to stop the cat from climbing up the Christmas tree for the 50th time that day.
You can find that suddenly you have a house full of people, but all you really want to do is jump in the bath and read a book for a couple of hours while sipping a nice cold glass of Bailey’s.
It would seem that what should be ‘The most wonderful time of the year’ has slowly turned into a bit of a hide in the corner and hope it goes away time. But before you run out to the garden shed with the Christmas bottle of sherry and the mince pies, hoping that no one saw you, try these top tips for avoiding burnout.
Don’t try to do everything
As soon as December hits, it can feel like we have a list as long as the Empire State Building to get through before the big day. We all strive for the ‘perfect Christmas’, but then, without wanting to, we can end up feeling defeated because we realise that sometimes it’s just not achievable.
A beautifully decorated tree, holly draped on every wall, freshly baked mince pies, and a Christmas dinner to rival a 5-star restaurant would all be lovely, but sometimes we just don’t have the time, the motivation or the energy to do it all, and that’s ok.
So if your decorations are a bit lackluster, you have supermarket mince pies and you’ve forgotten to order the prize winning turkey – don’t stress. It will all be OK.
It’s not the end of the world if you don’t get everything done, just concentrate on the most important parts, be it the decorations, the presents, the food or the party, and the rest of it can be done if and when you have the time.
If you find that you need a bit of help to get organised, why not try making a list of the things you need to do. Start with the most important at the top, and put the ones that would be nice but don’t really matter at the bottom. Work your way through them at your own pace and revel in that sense of achievement as you tick them off.
Don’t be afraid to say no
Christmas is a time for being together and spending time with family, and when you have children, you can find that everyone is vying for their attention. You want to make time for everybody, but with your partner’s family as well as your family to think about, it can become near on impossible to fit everyone in.
Everybody wants to see the children, and everybody has to see them on Christmas day otherwise ‘it’s just not the same’. So if you find that you have 50 people booked to come over and all you really want to do is spend Christmas day with just you, your partner and the kids, then don’t be afraid to say no.
Christmas isn’t just one day, we also have Boxing Day, New Year’s Eve, and all the other days in between. There’s nothing wrong with arranging to see family on one of those days and making it into a second Christmas. It’ll give the kids something to look forward to, and if you go to someone else’s house, it’ll give you a break from cooking for the day.
Take 5 minutes for yourself
Christmas, especially when you’re in a house full of people, can get very overwhelming. If you can’t deal with another rendition of White Christmas by Uncle Bob, another remote control car banging into your legs, or the constant arguing between distant family members, then take a little bit of time for yourself.
Go out into the garden for 5 minutes and get some fresh air, go to the bathroom and have a scroll through twitter, or have a last minute dash to the nearest open shop because you’ve ‘forgotten something important’.
There’s nothing wrong with taking 5 minutes to chill out and recharge, and you’ll feel a lot better for it, and then when you walk back in and you’re the life and soul of the party, nobody will be any the wiser.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help
There’s always so much to do at Christmas, that you’ll inevitably need a little bit of help at some point. The good thing is that with so many people around, there will always be someone to lend a helping hand when you need it.
If the roast potatoes are on the verge of burning and you’re elbow deep stuffing the turkey, just shout for a family member to help out. If you’re worried about the amount of food and drink that you’ll need to prepare, just ask people to bring a bottle or dessert when they come over, and if you need help tidying up, make it into a game for the kids with a little prize for who collects the most glasses and plates from around the house.
When you sit down and look at everything that you need to buy for the big day, it can be a bit of a scary experience. When you add up the cost of the presents, food, drink and everything else you need to get, you can be left feeling like you’re going to have to remortgage the house to get through it. Christmas can be expensive, and sometimes, we just don’t have the money to get everything that we want to get.
If you’re struggling, then something that can really help is setting a budget and making sure you don’t go over it.
Start by writing down what you have available to spend, and then write down what you want to buy. If you can’t afford it all, then just pick the most important things from the list.
You can split your list into sections: Presents, food, drink, decorations, etc, and then add a separate budget for each section. The most important thing is to not let yourself go overboard if you can’t afford it.
Above everything else, just relax and enjoy it. If you burn the turkey and the only other thing you’ve got left to serve are the fish fingers from the back of the freezer, it’s not the end of the world. Eat well, drink well, and enjoy another round of scrabble with the inlaws.
Merry Christmas x