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Tips to help survive Christmas

  • Plan ahead.

Too many people spend weeks worrying about getting the shopping done or leave it till the last minute– it's far easier to do it when you first start thinking about it. Start stocking up with the supplies as soon as possible – try getting a few items over the remaining weeks leading up to Christmas along with your regular shopping. As for presents, a great tip is to have an emergency supply, just a few small gifts to save you from embarrassment in the event of someone arriving unexpectedly with a prezzie for you.

  • Plan as a family.

Get together and write a list of what everyone wants to do. With older children, discuss family time and time with friends so you get a happy balance.  Set a realistic budget for presents, food, and other things and try to stick to this as best you can. If a child wants something that is beyond the budget, speak to them and explain as best you can why they cannot have it. 

  • Make a list of who needs to see who.

This is particularly important if you are part of a blended family where different people have different connections in the wider family.

  • Don’t try and do everything yourself .

Make a list of jobs that need to be done and allocate them between family or other guests that are invited. Don’t try and keep everyone happy all the time. Schedule in some time to recharge your own batteries - if you’re well rested you’ll be able to enjoy it more.

  • If things get heated between family members and everything gets too much.

Remove yourself from the situation and perhaps call a friend or relative.  If this is your first Christmas as a step family your child may feel confused and maybe even angry – try to allocate some time that you can spend alone together to reassure them.

  • Plan a family treat.

To avoid that deflated feeling after the holiday season. That way, you’ll have something to look forward to.

  • Make a budget and stick to it .

Christmas is never easy when you are on a limited income, and children often have unrealistic expectations. Make sure your children are aware of how much or how little you can afford and don’t overspend. Save throughout the year to ease the burden when it is time to shop for presents.

  • Give your children something that they can keep for the future.

Create a keepsake that you can give to your children that tells them how much they mean to you. This would be something special that they could keep and look back on in years to come. Maybe you could write (or copy) a special poem into a Christmas card?

Many parents create treasure boxes in which they keep special mementos for their children from years gone by that they get out and look through together from time to time.

Don’t over-inflate your expectations.

Don’t expect to create the ‘perfect’ Christmas as it’s near likely to fall short of your expectations. The most important thing is for you and your family to have fun. That does not mean landing yourself in debt for the next 12 months by buying expensive gifts – just spending a bit of time together can be the best present. Remember, if something does not go quite to plan, it really is not the end of the world.

  • If you are responsible for cooking and hosting the Christmas Day activities,

then don’t take it all upon yourself. Why not ask other family members to bring different parts of the meal, such as snacks, salads or desserts – don’t be afraid to ask for help. You could even rope in the kids to help out. Make sure you have some time for YOU, even if it's just allowing yourself to watch one special TV show that you really want to see.

  • Keep a routine.

It is good to rest and enjoy your Christmas but daily and weekly scheduling can go out of the window at Christmas, this can disturb sleep pattern and cause all sorts of mischief, try keeping a regular activity such as going to the gym, or go and try a completely different activity altogether. The main thing is to know when boredom is setting in, as that is when frustrations and boredom rise.

  • Everything in moderation.

Christmas seems to be all about excess – but there is not much enjoyment in feeling the size of a padded Santa suit or as stuffed as the festive turkey! The best advice is moderation – apply it to everything you eat and drink. Drink moderate amounts of alcohol and try to alternate soft drinks or water with alcoholic ones. As for food, have a bit of what you fancy but try not to stuff your face if you can help it!

  • Re hydrate.

If you have overdone it on the alcohol, then it is important to get yourself back on an even keel. Even if you have been good, taking our advice consuming non-alcoholic drinks in between – the chances are you could still be feeling pretty rough. Don’t just sit there feeling ill – get up and drink plenty of water and diluted fruit juice to help your liver recover and eventually eradicate the hangover.

  • Treat yourself.

Make sure you buy yourself an extra special something to open and enjoy when your children are with their other parent or after they have gone to bed. You work hard all year long looking after your children and this is a little way to give yourself a well-deserved pat on the back.

  • Get active the morning after.

As soon as you are feeling remotely human, and your chances of throwing up have lessened, then think about doing some exercise. A brisk walk, light jog or swim will help work off those extra roast potatoes and all those second helpings you may have had. Getting active will also help you feel normal again, dispel any festive cabin fever and help repair some of the damage you have done to yourself.

  • Sleep.

Sleeping is the time when our bodies recover from the excesses of life. Drinking and eating too much can severely affect our sleep patterns, as can the frequent late nights that are a regular occurrence during the festive period. Over Christmas and New Year, many people are sleep-starved leaving them not fit for much after a few late nights, let alone being the life and soul of the party. Therefore, make sure you get some quality sleep – even if it is just a few hours.

  • Time off.

If possible, plan your holidays so that you are not forced into going into work over the festive period. Many people try burning the candle at both ends, combining parties and work, and end up completely knackered. Time off in the run up to Christmas will prevent you from being overworked and overstressed by the time it arrives, so you will be in a better position to enjoy the whole experience.

  • Take some time out.

Lets face it, Christmas can be pretty overwhelming, so it may be important to take a few moments out from the frenzy. Maybe spend sometime in the garden, have a lie down or go for a walk. Tell the people around you what you are doing so they don't think you are ignoring or avoiding them - and let them know its OK for them to do the same.

  • Don't be on your own.

If you are concerned about being lonely over Christmas, either being single or unable to spend it with family, then do something about it now. Think about inviting a few others over who are in the same boat as you and consider offering your house as a venue for the event. Also try not to turn down any invitations to other festive events, provided that you are giving yourself a chance to recover in between!

  • It is also OK to be on your own at Christmas

Your time is yours to do whatever you wish to do, if you don't want Christmas - Then don't have one

For support over the Christmas period please call the Samaritans on 116 123, they are available 24/7 and 365 days of the year.

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