By Kylie Dawson 

The festive season is upon us, and as much as it can be a beautiful and memory-making time of year, it also has the potential to be stressful and overwhelming, for big and little people alike.  

Below are some simple tips that might help make Christmas, and the events leading up to it, a little more enjoyable and a bit less stressful. 

It is ok to set your expectations around gifts with family and friends. If you don’t want plastic presents, then let people know, or if you don’t want a huge pile of gifts from each person, again, you can let them know. You could even develop a list of gift options and share that with others.  You can kindly and respectfully set your wishes, and often, family and friends will be appreciative, and grateful for some gift guidelines as we all know how overwhelming it can be to decide on gifts.  You could discuss, or write something similar to what is below: 

We are so excited about sharing Christmas together this year, and we are so appreciative of the gifts you share with our little ones as part of this celebration.  We have noticed that when Sarah and Michael have fewer toys, they actually play with them more and so this year we would like to ask that they only receive 2 gifts from each of you.  We also know that gift buying can be stressful and overwhelming with all the options out there, so please do let us know if you would like some gift ideas. Thanks so much and really looking forward to celebrating the festive season with you all. 

You can only do so much in one day, and sometimes the rush between different celebrations and the feeling of obligation can be a lot, for us, and our little people. It can be hard to tell people you won’t get to see them on Christmas Day, and that maybe you will celebrate with them on Christmas Eve, or Boxing Day, or even in the New Year, but you might actually get to spend more time with them if you space celebrations out, and that time will most likely be quality time too.   

Christmas, and the time leading up to it, can be intense, both physically and emotionally, and it can be overwhelming for all of us, especially our little people. Make sure you give yourself, and your children, a break. You don’t have to attend every Christmas event that occurs and if a little more Bluey gets watched than normal, you have a cheese platter or toast for dinner, or you all end up falling asleep on mattresses watching a Christmas movie in the lounge room, then not only is that ok, but it is great and can be a lovely experience and contribute to creating wonderful memories!

Don’t rush through present opening. As adults we are very keen to see our little people get excited about their gifts, and we really hope they like and enjoy them, but we need to give them some time and space to engage in the present opening experience. It doesn’t matter if it takes all day for them to open their gifts – if they open their first gift and it is a book and they want to look through it, let them, even if they sit there for half an hour and do so.  We can read through it with them, or chat with one another, make another cuppa and relax. Taking our time also gives us the chance to support them with thanking people for their gifts in a sincere and thoughtful way. 

Establish routines or rituals. Rituals and routines are critical in all of our lives, and especially in the lives of our little people.  Rituals provide security and help to foster a sense of identity and belonging.  They help establish and strengthen bonds, and provide comfort, especially in uncertain times.  Your Christmas rituals don’t have to be elaborate; it could be that you buy a very special and beautiful candle that only gets used at Christmas, and you light it for dinner on Christmas Eve.  Or maybe you take a walking tour of your neighbourhood to look at the Christmas lights before having a picnic at the park.  You can also ask your little people for their ideas; they might want to bake Christmas cookies with you or they might want everyone to wear Santa hats at lunch on Christmas, or they may decide that they want to leave blueberries, chocolate milk and taco shells out for Santa, and I am sure Santa would love that!!

The Insta-worthy Christmas pics might make you feel like you all your decorations need to be home made, your meals need to be sourced directly from your organic garden, and Christmas elves need to have left magic dust and notes wrapped in felt envelopes for the children. And whilst that sounds wonderful, let’s remember that those Instagram posts have been laboriously created and sculpted, much like a scene in a movie. If you do want something homemade, maybe pick just one or two things.  Make paper chains for the tree, pick some greenery from the garden and tie it with string for the centrepiece, or make some Christmas gift tags with the children from cardboard and glitter. 

In the end, the best thing we can give ourselves, and our little people, is time, attention, and love.  I hope you find at least a window of time over the festive period to stop, relax, spot the Christmas beetles, and marvel at the shimmer of the tinsel and the lights on the tree.