As we approach the Festive Season

As we approach the festive season expectations increase

•To have the best time ever
•Affording the biggest, most expensive presents for everyone
•That it’s a happy event with family and friends enjoying and having fun

The reality is often:

•Spending more time with your partner and family than you normally do
•Coping with young people who have been wired for the past few weeks and are almost unmanageable by the time Christmas arrives
•Worries about making it the best time
•Financial concerns and debt

You are unlikely to be with your partner and children for such a long period of time, with the holiday period extending over a week or longer. As enjoyable as that can be, with the added stresses it can bring, it can create a bubbling pot, simmering away ready to blow much quicker than normal. The danger is that you end up stressed and worn out, with everyone arguing, and by the time the festive season arrives you don’t have the energy to enjoy it.

From my own memories as a child, I don’t remember the presents I received, but I do remember years of arguments, unpleasant atmospheres, and feeling miserable and certainly a lack of fun. Let’s look at a few ways to ensure this doesn’t happen for you. Firstly, don’t overstretch yourself and wherever possible plan ahead.There are plenty of tips and suggestions in this magazine.

The one two-letter word I am suggesting you use more often is NO!

NO to yourself, you don’t have to try and be the BEST ever host/wife/mum/ partner
NO, when you are tempted to go over your budget
NO to others who want you to do things that make their lives easier, but puts more on you.

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Take a stand and don’t side-step issues rather than dealing with them, with responses like

•We’ll see
•I’m not promising

It’s so easy to say that because we don’t want to make a decision. Step back and think what you really want to say, and be clear. It will save a lot of upset later as you may find others saw it as YES and you may find yourself backed into something you don’t want. If you are unclear with children they will have those expectations and you will have to contend with constant nagging as they try to wear you down.  Of course, you will experience sulking, and cries of ‘it’s not fair’. However, the sooner children learn life isn’t fair the better. You can negotiate. Suggest making a contribution towards their present, and get other family members to do the same, or that they save up the rest themselves.

Let’s move onto the invitations to parties or expectations from others to be invited by you.

•Manage your time so that you don’t get frazzled, which impacts on others, like your partner.
•Make plans ahead with your partner together beforehand.
•Arrange a time other than Christmas day and Boxing Day to spend time with people, rather than trying to cram it all in over two days.
•For those, you would rather not spend too much time with others, arrange to drop in for a cup of tea or invite them for a specific time, and make it clear you have other plans later.

Manage alcohol intake, not only for yourself but also of others. Don’t be tempted to keep topping up glasses, put someone sensible in charge of the bar. There is nothing more likely to cause problems than someone who has had too much alcohol!

If you feel an argument brewing don’t bite, take a deep breath and walk away. Let it go – and deal with it another time when you are all calmer – if you need to. Some things are just not worth arguing about.
Don’t forget your partner! Do find time for cuddles and relaxation time together.

And lastly and most importantly, factor in some time for you. A couple of hours to read, listen to music, watch a movie. If that’s not possible, take a few moments while the vegetables are cooking to take a few moments to relax, take some deep breaths and re-centre yourself.

By taking these steps, hopefully, you will have a happy, stress-free time.

Wendy Capewell is the author of: 
From Surviving to Thriving in a Romantic Relationship

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