Well hello festive season!
Yes, it is the 1st December, and we launch into the festive season…possibly the most stressful time of year. But I love it! I have always felt that Christmas time is like having a new born baby – it is an absolute joy and special time of your life, but you are just too tired and stressed to enjoy it. Who agrees?
Each year I vow to enjoy it, but usually end up exhausted and stressed and can’t wait for it to be over. But this year will be different. This year I have a plan!
So what is it that makes Christmas time stressful?
Well, too many activities on for one. Everything costs a bundle of money. And I am exhausted – not enough sleep, too much heavy food and alcohol and not enough sleep, and then add worries about the spending of money and remembering each activity.
So what is different his year?
I have done most of my Christmas shopping already, and have done mostly it online. I have also spread it out over a few months, so we don’t get one big financial whack. We try not to go overboard. Kids get a present from us, a present from Santa, and then a Santa bag/stocking with bits and bobs. So the boys shopping is pretty much done. My side of the family is big. We usually do a Kris Kringle, but this time we have decided no presents. So just the in-laws side to shop for.
I am really making sure I get enough sleep. This is such a big thing for me as I can be such a flaky sleeper which can lead to all sorts of stress and anxiety (as well as being a result of all sorts of stress and anxiety – bitter cycle). So for me at the moment, down time and sleep are important. I like to be an early riser, so I am making sure my nights aren’t too late.
There are so many activities this time of year – catch ups with friends, work do’s, school activities. I am trying to be mindful and make sure that I enjoy these rather than feeling exhausted. The point about getting enough rest and down time helps with that. I also drop activities if I can. And whilst I would like to make it to all the work functions and consider many colleagues to be friends, when it comes to family and friends, the work ones go on the bottom of the list, and if they need to be dropped, they are. When the kids say they are not keen on the school disco, I don’t push them to go; I just give a sigh of relief.
I am conscious of practicing mindfulness and gratitude. I have spoken to the boys about the trap of getting caught up in the ‘season’ and at least once each day we need to stop, take a breath, and think about the things that we are thankful for. I am also very guilty of looking forward and not enjoying the moment. I am always rushing ahead. So this year I am deliberately practicing mindfulness. Being in the moment, and enjoying the moment. Enjoying my boy’s last year of primary school and his year 6 graduation. Enjoying what could be the last year that my baby believes in Santa. Enjoying my big boy in his last days of year 8 before he moves into the boy-man world of year 9. Enjoying catching up with friends and appreciating them.
Part of practicing gratitude is giving. It is hard to give when you feel you have so much to do and pay for at the moment. It is not just Christmas, but all the school things that need to be paid by the end of the year for next year. Don’t worry, I get it. Boy do i get it. But there are so many ways you can give. Rather than buying normal cards from Officeworks to go with teachers gifts, I have bought cards from Christian Blind Mission (I try to buy them from different places each year – it was World Vision last year). It costs the same as a card from the shops, but has a greater impact. The cards I bought pay for the lenses that are required for cataract surgery.
I know this sounds easier than it really is, but being organised is a big one for me! I review the calendar several times a day and make sure I am on top of everything. It doesn’t always work though – I thought the sports carnival was last Friday and was all prepared, but it is this coming Friday! I was a bit disappointed not to get that out of the way! I do list after list – which teachers gifts and Kris Kringle gifts do we still need to get? What activities and appointments are coming up? Is there anything going on at work or work trips that will throw a spanner in the works? Where do I need to get others to help?
I am really trying to eat healthily. Christmas time in Australia is good for that – great summer fruits and veggies, and lots of glorious seafood. And along with that I am actually planning to do exercise in December. Hah! We’ll see about that one.
I am deep breathing. A lot.
So what am I doing this 1st day of December? I am playing Chris Isaak Christmas Carols, having a coffee, reviewing what needs to be done today, and just enjoying the moment and the sunshine. Oh, and will probably put up the Christmas tree later! (And yes, I am not mentioning all the mundane crap about getting school uniforms and work clothes ready for the week, lunch box food, exchanging something that didn’t fit for Ed’s graduation clothes, getting the school booklist done and paid for, getting Ed to a party etc – everyone has all that stuff to do).
How about you, are you feeling festive?