Christmas should be the most enjoyable time of the year but it’s often far from it, especially when you have kids in tow. Mums can find themselves juggling extended family, gifts and food preparation in addition to overexcited and overtired toddlers, kids and teens.
Before you know it, you’ve whipped yourself up into a state of ‘Christmas Crazy’ and can’t bring yourself back from the brink.
It’s important to take care of yourself at this time of the year and try to avoid burnout. As mums, we need to remember to give ourselves a break and NOT try to pull off the ‘perfect? Christmas.
Here are a few tips to keeping your sanity in check over the festive season.
- Put yourself first. Most mums say their kids come first, but if you’re not taking care of yourself, it impacts everyone around you. Over the festive season and school holidays, it’s not only okay for you to take time for yourself, but it’s something you must do to prevent burnout. The little things you do for yourself make a huge difference to your emotional health and how your household operates without frustration continually mounting.
- Put your partner, eldest kids and even guests to work. Work together as a team to make all preparations, on-the-day gatherings and babysitting of any little ones seamless, especially if you’re hosting a family event. It’s all about making sure you have some support and get the relief you need.
- Be aware of your anxiety levels. If you feel your anxiety rising, slow your breathing, and find a quiet place in the house to take some deep breaths.
- Despite the temptations of festive cheer over the break, go easy on the alcohol and caffeine, and cigarettes if you smoke.
- Try to make sure that your meals remain balanced and avoid quick festive sugar fixes.
- Prioritise sleep. Maintaining your mental health relies on getting regular sleep. This might mean enlisting your immediate family’s help with chores around the house or letting them go altogether. If you have a young baby, sleep when they sleep. Children are exhausted at this time of the year too so ensure they get some down time amid gatherings.
- Evaluate what will make you and your family most happy. Remember, you don’t need to catch up with every single person that you know over Christmas and New Year’s when you only see them once or twice a year. It can wait and will probably be more enjoyable at a less busy time of year.
- Curb your screen time. Scrolling through seemingly perfect images of other people’s Christmas celebrations can add to a heightened sense of stress. Plus, your being on the phone is likely to drive your kids to badger you for a turn, so put it way and do your best to avoid screen time.
- Make sure you get out, get fresh air, sun and gentle exercise everyday. This will help clear the mind and allow you to prioritise tasks and plans for the day.
- Seek medical help if you think you need it. 1:5 women and 1:10 men will experience anxiety or depression in pregnancy or the first year after giving birth. Anxiety and depressive thoughts are a sign you need help, not a sign you’re a bad parent, so over the chaotic Christmas period, be sure to seek help if you need to talk or share your feelings with a professional.
Sarah Tooke is an Antenatal Midwife Coordinator at The Mater Hospital in Crows Nest, one of Sydney’s leading private maternity hospitals. For more information on the Mater’s comprehensive emotional health and wellbeing program for new and expecting parents, contact its Maternity Department on 9900 7690, or visit matermaternity.com.au