It’s Christmas – a very busy time of year for mothers. Shopping for presents, cooking, family gatherings; often the season to be merry is instead the season to be stressed out. This year, how about taking a more relaxed approach and enjoying yourself?
Christmas doesn’t have to be perfect
Nothing is perfect. When large families get together some tension is inevitable: not everyone gets along, the kids argue about everything, a present is forgotten… you name it. Aiming for a perfect Christmas will you set you up for disappointment even before you start.
Forget about those picture-perfect Christmas photos on Instagram. They’re not real. Christmas is chaotic, all mums will agree – but if you can embrace the chaos then you’re onto a winner. Don’t let the stress get to you. Relax and give yourself a break. No catastrophe will happen if you don’t make a picture-perfect meal.
I’m a huge advocate of cooking from scratch; but sometimes it’s better to buy ready-made food from the shop to save yourself time and effort. If you’re a good cook, if you have time to prepare things yourself, do that. But if it means endless stress then do yourself a favour and buy them ready-made. And always have frozen pizza in your freezer as a back up: if all else fails (and sometimes it does) you can have a good laugh about it and have a pizza night. It will be great a family anecdote for years to come.
Don’t try to do it all – delegate every task you can. Get your partner and kids to help out. If you’re hosting a party and people ask what to bring, don’t say “nothing”; say “actually, could you bring a side dish/a dessert/a bottle of something?” People like to feel useful; and it makes it a lot easier for you, too.
Treat yourself like you were your own best friend. We tend to speak to ourselves way more harshly than we would ever speak to others – so how about pretending you are your best friend? You wouldn’t say to a friend things like “you really could’ve done this better” or “look at these rolls of fat, you shouldn’t be eating this much”.
When you notice you’re being too self-critical, try to be kind to yourself instead. Enjoy yourself. Christmas is a time for celebration and happiness – make sure you also have a nice time. Include yourself in the fun, and certainly don’t feel bad for indulging yourself in the sweet flavours of Christmas. This is the season to do just that.
Eat the frickin’ cake
I asked health coach Ann Murphy, founder of New Approach Wellness, what tips she would give to those who want to watch what they eat at Christmas. This is what she said:
“Don’t worry about it, first of all. Don’t stress. Enjoy the frickin’ cake. If you’re sitting there worrying about it, you actually cause a stress response and shut down your digestion, and the body stores fat. Holidays and social events are a part of living, it’s life. It’s a part of how you navigate your life.
Christmas is about celebrating, getting together with people you love – you don’t want to be worrying about ‘oh my god I ate that cake’.
It makes sense to choose things that you only get to see once or twice a year, or something you really love, or something that this person always makes and it’s the best; so that it’s special. Pick a couple of things that you can’t get on a regular basis.
Don’t stand by the food and eat. You don’t even realise how much you eat when you’re standing there, chatting, and nibbling away. Get a plate and remove yourself from the food. Try to be mindful, take your time, chew it; and enjoy it. Don’t be worried about it. Sharing food is a part of having healthy relationships, it’s a part of socialising.”
If a health coach gives you the green light to enjoy your cake, it would be rude not to. Perhaps you will put on a little weight. So what? Christmas is a season to feast – it’s kind of natural to put on a little weight. It means you probably had a nice time with friends and family, and you enjoyed some delicious food shared over stories and laughter. There is absolutely nothing to regret about that.
Enjoy yourself and don’t feel bad about it. I wish you a very happy Christmas and a wonderful New Year!