Wednesday 18 December 2019

PARENTHOOD: 10 Ways to Reduce Stress and Get Prepared for Christmas

PARENTHOOD: 10 Ways to Reduce Stress and Get Prepared for Christmas
There is no doubt that Christmas is a stressful time of year, perhaps even more so when you become a parent. Creating the magic of Christmas for children is both incredibly special, as well as being a lot of pressure, so how can we reduce the stress and get prepared? Being a parent is busy at the best of times and this is our first Christmas as a relatively new family of five. Time is a luxury when you have children, so multi-tasking, being productive and preparing well in advance are all essential. This time of year is my favourite and it brings out the organiser in me; any excuse for a list, making people happy and adding that all important sprinkle of magic. But it doesn't just happen, so I've shared my top ten tips for getting prepared during the festive season...

1. Organise a roast dinner a couple of weeks before Christmas - Some families enjoy a roast dinner every weekend, while others it is a much rarer treat, but either way have one planned a couple of weeks before Christmas. By doing this you can prepare and freeze many of the Christmas dinner trimmings in advance and then freeze them. Make extra stuffing balls, pigs in blankets, carrot and swede mash, gravy, Yorkshire puddings etc., pop them in airtight containers and freeze until the big day. It saves times, as well as helps to spread the cost and you'll be thanking yourself when you can enjoy a glass of mulled wine with everyone instead of spending the big day stuck in the kitchen.
2. Write all the lists and check them twice - This probably goes without saying, but having lists for everything makes life so much easier. Personally I like to have a list of present ideas, for food we need to buy, for what to pack when visiting family and for presents I've bought people and then I'll cross them off once they're wrapped up. If I was hosting I'd also have a list with the order of things to make/cook/prepare on Christmas Day, so nothing gets forgotten. It helps to have everything written down and there's nothing more satisfying than crossing things off!
3. Start wrapping early - It never fails to amaze me quite how long it takes to wrap presents, so start early. Little and often is key here, especially if you're like us and have a little baby who goes to bed when you do.
4. Add your child/ren's festive events to the calendar as soon as possible - If you have a school aged children, or even nursery, then you'll know how busy their social calendar becomes on the run up to Christmas. This is our first year with Isabella being at school and December has been completely taken over by her school and social commitments. There's been school theatre trips, parties, nativity performances, Christingle, Christmas jumper days, booking in for Christmas dinner, teaching staff to buy presents for, Christmas tree farms to visit, birthday parties, flu immunisations to have etc. Getting everything in the calendar as soon as you know dates/times helps to keep everything organised and therefore reduce the stress of juggling it all, especially if you have multiple children.
5. Make your children their own calendar - Christmas is full of anticipation and excitement, but the lack of routine can be unsettling for children. Not knowing what is going to happen each day can bring out more challenging behaviour, so making them their own calendar helps give a visual representation of what is due to happen and therefore ease their stress levels. I made Isabella one for the first time this year (I simply drew a grid onto a piece of paper, added the dates and then drew a picture of what was due to happen on each day - very quick and costs almost nothing. Alternatively you could make one on the computer and print it off) and it has been such a success already. She has enjoyed knowing what is happening, counting down the days until different events and ticking off each day as it's done. 
6. Use Gift Guides to make Christmas Shopping easier - There are many incredible gift guides around at this time of year and they really can save you time searching for the ideal gift. You can find them in magazines, newspapers, on YouTube, Instagram, blogs etc. and there's something for everyone in your life. I loved putting together my Christmas Gift Guides for 2019, which include babies, children, children £10 and under, him & her, parents and him & her £20 and under
7. Get ahead - This applies to so many aspects of the festive period and is all about using time effectively and productively. Give out presents as early as possible to friends/teachers/nursery staff etc., sort out nativity outfits and send them into school, stock up on all the festive treats and then freeze, start wrapping presents when December begins, visit Christmassy places earlier to avoid the crowds, book to visit Father Christmas as soon as possible, organise toys in readiness for opening new ones on Christmas Day, stock up on batteries that new toys may need etc. 
8. Keep an eye on the date - This could be the last date to send a letter to Father Christmas via the Royal Mail, the last delivery date vary massively between companies so check them, the time left to get your family traditions fitted in, the Christmas films/tv programmes to record/watch on television, handing out your Christmas cards, booking that all important food delivery slot etc. December is the month to check the calendar every single day and not to leave things until the last minute.
9. Schedule festive events early - Everyone has their own set of traditions or things they like to do on the run up to Christmas, but it is one of the busiest times of the year so it pays to book early. Ensuring that all of your favourite activities are scheduled in way in advance takes away the stress and helps children to understand what is happening each day too. This could be ice skating, seeing Santa, visiting friends/family, going to a special restaurant, buying the Christmas tree etc. 
10. Try not to let the pressure get to you - There's no quicker way of making Christmas stressful than letting the pressure of getting everything perfect and doing everything get on top of you! Social media can especially be a challenge at this time of year, as you often see families living the 'perfect' life and doing every single festive activity you could think of. I know it's hard, but remember that social media is only a slice of someone's life and certainly isn't showing what you should be doing with your children. You do you and enjoy this merry time of year with your family.
What are your top tips for reducing stress and getting prepared for Christmas?

Feel free to leave a comment - I love reading every single one :)

Helen x


  1. Brilliant ideas. I’ve made a real conscious effort to be more organised this year but also not to push myself too far.

    Great advice.

  2. These are fab tips, thank you! I hope you all have a lovely (and stress-free!) Christmas x

  3. I often feel the pressure of organising everything. I agree wrap as you buy, to avoid the last minute wrapping frenzy!

  4. I have had a major wrapping session today and feel so much better that I have started now

  5. Today, I've declared myself finished with Christmas... If I haven't bought anything now, it's tough. All I have to do now, is drop my oldest to into town to pick up their presents.
    I'm done!!! :)

  6. I always aim to get all my presents done, wrapped, and sent of (if necessary) by the end of November. It means I can enjoy Advent, and there's no way I want to be standing at the post office in December. Both my boys have their birthdays in November, so I just finish up my Christmas shopping at the same time I'm doing their birthday presents.


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