After listening to the first “What I want for Christmas” by Mariah Carey song in a mall same days ago, reality crushed me: we are in Christmas time. And as we all know: this is one of the most stressful times of the year. There are lots of events to attend, gifts to buy, dinners to organize, family visits to plan, home decorations to set up, kids school parties to attend… not to mention that at work it seems like the world will fall down by the end of December and we have to close out all projects before our holidays.
Very quickly, what should be the most joyful month of the year transforms into hell if we don’t have a good survival strategy.
Here is my list of don’ts and advice to help cope with Christmas time for working parents (but most especially for working mums) !
Don’t Overbook Your Calendar
There are always so many events from mid November to December. Christmas time is a marathon and we all have to arrive at New Year’s Eve without losing our sanity. Manage your energy carefully and only pick the good events to attend, keeping some quality time for yourself at least once a week. This will prevent you from running into a burnout, and will allow you to reserve some energy for your kids during the vacation.
DO NOT volunteer for school cookie competitions, DIY Christmas decorating of your building or home, other school/neighborhood activities which requires time investment and offer no useful outcome. You are a working parent, and therefore your free time is as important as your sleeping time. Cookies and decorations can be bought, so use your credit card, as you work for that as well. Invest this time for your own home decorating and your own dinners. Trust me, no one will notice.
Don’t Buy Useless Gifts
Do not spend time and money on useless gifts. Shopping anytime after the middle of November can be stressful and expensive. Spend your Saturdays with your kids engaging in meaningful activities like ice skating, indoor swimming pool or whatever other activities they like.
For those who are used to buying gifts online, remember that Christmas gifts are overrated. We all have everything, and often many versions of everything (how many scarves do you have? Exactly, too many…). Think about a charity and give your money to the ones who are really in need. Buy a nice card for your loved ones and write something nice. Believe me, people appreciate a charity gesture, more than the 15thscarf…
(If you need some ideas about charity, check the ones I’m supporting)
Don’t Organize a Christmas Party
Do not organize a Christmas party for your friend and neighbors. I know, this comes from me, the one who organizes evenst even while sleeping. But we have to be realistic. Even an gathering with some friends requires planning, energy and time we don’t have. You already arrive home exhausted in the evening, just enjoy the time with your family. If someone is organizing something tough, participate. Buy something in the supermarket and join the party with a smile!
Don’t Eat and Drink Too Much
For this section I asked the help of an expert Sabine van’t Hart Orbello founder of Puricious , health coach, nutritionist and yoga teacher who helps you to boost your energy level by transforming your life style and your mindset.
Sabine: “Many people fear putting on weight over the Christmas period. No worries, with these tips, you will be able to enjoy the delicious food AND feel great! First of all, focus on the quality time with your loved ones, friends, colleagues – rather than worrying about calories and weight gain. Enjoying conversations, playing games, and sharing food are all wonderful ways to nourish our soul! Research has found that through connection we effectively reduce our stress levels and boost our happiness hormones! A win-win, so enjoy!
Remember to nourish your body too by staying active; e.g. go for long walks outside, do a short HIIT workout at home or enjoy a yoga class. Movement boosts our metabolism, reduces stress, and balances our hormones so it is crucial to stay active! Remember to drink lots of water throughout the day – and even more after sweating and alcohol! Snack on a few seeds or nuts to protect yourself from overeating later on. During meals, first fill up on vegetables before eating meat / fish / grains and take your time to mindfully chew your food well. As a little trick, you can add 1 teaspoon of chia seeds for more fiber, which will help you feel satiated and prevent you from overeating and feeling bloated afterwards.
Lastly, in order to keep your cravings for heavy food and sweets at bay, limit alcohol, white flour products (like bread, pasta, fries) as well as sugar (like dessert, cookies, panettone). By consuming these in moderation, you avoid extreme blood sugar level fluctuations that cause the typical ‘food coma energy crash’ afterwards! Moderation is key to stay energised and feel great. An effective rule of thumb to moderate your alcohol intake is to drink 2 glasses of water for every 1 glass of alcohol. ”
Pay special attention to alcohol. It is nice to go to office Christmas party and have some Glühwein. But we are not in our 20’s anymore, and healing the hangover the day after with a toddler jumping around you is not what you are wishing for…
This covers pretty much what you are supposed to do to arrive at the 25thof December with a smile and the feeling that it is has been a good December. Now it is up to you to decide how to run your Christmas marathon!