If you're feeling overwhelmed on the run up to the Festive season, you're not alone so here are some things to remember this Christmas.
Do not do anything that is detrimental to your own mental health. If visiting family or friends makes you uncomfortable or unhappy, don't feel forced to do it - nothing is compulsory! People will get over it. There is a tendency for everyone to get very uptight about who goes where, who does what, and to be offended about anyone making a different choice - the only person you need to be fair to is yourself.
If you're feeling guilty about what you have (or haven't) bought someone, remember that it really is meant to be the thought that counts and no one would want you to struggle or get stressed to buy them a gift - anyone who cares about you would only want the best for you. Handmade and homemade gifts are amazing, but for me the very best gift you can give someone is your time so offer to babysit, arrange a catch up, do something special together in the new year, but never feel compelled to spend what you don't have.
If you're feeling disillusioned at how commercialised it's all become, remember that this season is the season of goodwill and lots of magical things happen - people give more to food banks, donate to toy appeals, pledge their time to those who are lonely, volunteer to help the homeless - yes we should be doing these things all year around but this season encourages people to be giving and selfless so try to look upon this as a good thing!
If you're worried about what your children will think of what Santa, or you, have left under the tree on Christmas morning, try to remember that what you can afford now is not reflective of the type of parent you are. Remember your own childhood Christmases and what is it you really think of? Mine is the pillowcase at the end of the bed, the school Christmas parties, visiting relatives, eating party food and always getting a selection box from my Nanna - I certainly can't remember every present from every year or whether I got everything on my list. Of course most of our children are so fortunate that we will make sure they wake up to some of what they asked for, but if they are disappointed about the big, expensive gift they haven't got this year, they'll have forgotten about by lunch time. (I'm struggling with this myself, having 2 boys who have now added a large gift to their list, when we've actually bought them everything we wanted to so we AREN'T going to now get this particular thing for them - they might be disappointed - although I doubt they'll be upset for more than 3 seconds - and they will survive it - this will not affect their lives in the long term and they really don't need to get every single thing they've asked for, and I'm keeping this in mind myself).
If you are visiting friends or relatives offer to help, be useful, don't criticise - they are offering you hospitality and kindness and that is what it's supposed to be about. If you're the host and you're stressed that it needs to be perfect, what's perfect is having everyone there together and being happy. Your house doesn't need to be instaperfect, your kids don't have to be dressed up, the food does not have to be of professional chef standard. If everyone is there, fed, watered and happy isn't that the point?
Be gracious. Be kind. Be helpful. Be happy. And have a fabulous Christmas. Remember, it's just one day out of 365 with a very fancy Sunday lunch!