5 Ways to Not stress this Christmas

5 ways to not stress this christmas

It’s the most wonderful time of the year….. or is it?  Sometimes it’s cookie making on steroids and the only time of year that you have to listen to the same songs all day every day with only gingerbread lattes and mulled wine to get you through.

But then add a couple extra family members and it can all get a bit hectic.  There’s meals to plan, schedules to compare and presents to buy.  Add in all the nativities, Christmas parties and special church events and you’ve fit an entire years worth of socialising into one month.

Here’s a few things I’ve been reflecting on that help me enjoy the best of Christmas.

1. Don’t cook turkey

This may seem strange and go completely against your Christmas tradition, but honestly it is the most difficult and time consuming meat to cook.  Don’t spend your entire day slaving in the kitchen switch up your Christmas meat and keep the sides simple with fewer choices to cut cooking time by over half.  My favourite for Christmas is gammon which is very affordable and makes amazing left overs.

2. Shop online

I’ve been doing this for a couple of years now and it’s been a life saver.  Not only do I get a huge thrill at all the discounts out there online, but I never have to stand in the queue, pay for parking and get stuck in traffic – lovely.

3. Make it more about people than presents

I have always found that the less I spend at Christmas the more I seem to enjoy it. I’ve had a few Christmases were I’ve been so inspired with Pinterest Christmas ideas that I’ve spent all my time thinking of how much everyone would love their own crochet snowflake in their Christmas card only to discover that it will take me 5 years to make enough for everyone.  What a waste! Just spend time with the people in your life rather than fixating on what absolutely perfect Christmas gift you could give them.  Too many details = stress.

4. Throw out a few traditions

Traditions are a wonderful thing to have and instil great memories, but when they become counterproductive by inducing stress and tension in the family it’s time to let them go.  We’ve had to work through this each year as we’ve never spent an entire Christmas on our own and so there is, of course, lots of compromise involved.  We tend to see the traditions more as guidelines than rules. For example, giving christmas pajamas on Christmas eve is a favourite tradition of mine, but not one we’ve always been able to afford.  So switch it up with Christmas socks or santa hats to keep the tradition going.  Another example is the date and time of things.  We’ve always traditionally put up our tree on the 12th, my brother’s birthday, but we tend to do it sometime in the week or as close to that date if we’re not available that day.  We’ll still get a Christmas tree and Christmas will still happen even though the tree is up on a different day of the year.

5. Stick to a budget

This is usually the one that always gets thrown out the window as soon as we spot that amazing deal or the massive toy that would just blow our kids minds, but it’s what can cause the most stress about Christmas – overspending.  There is no bleaker month than January with zero money.

I hope these tips help you stress less and enjoy this special time of year.

What are your best stress busting tips for Christmas??

Pancakes, blogging and other things

Pancakes, blogging & other things

It’s Saturday morning and I have been awake for about 3 and a half hours already and it’s only 8:45 am.  I have helped make two pumpkin pies, made my own grain free pumpkin pancakes (yum!) and have also assisted the making of bacon and pancakes for 6 children.

But now I am sitting at my desk (another small victory to be at a desk and not typing on my lap in some random corner of the living room), eating my pumpkin pancakes and sipping on my first cup of tea of the day.  Bliss…  It’s taken me all week to sit down at my desk to write.  I miss it so much but the days seem to fly by weeks at a time and I am just trying to make sure I’m awake at the right time of each day.  It’s getting harder and harder to tell the difference between night and day and I pretty much feel the same at both times.

Oh yes, it’s that time of the year again when hubby is studying most hours and sleeping for the rest and kids activities seem to triple and the calendar just explodes with events.  And that is why I look forward to Christmas so much every year.  My husband will actually have some time off from work where he gets to be with the family instead of at the library studying, and it’s cold enough outside to make it perfectly acceptable to stay indoors in our pi’s…all week long.

Saturday was another one of those calendar explosion days.  My amazingly gorgeous nieces slept over and we all headed up to Leatherhead to my brother’s house for an EPIC Thanksgiving meal with friends followed by racing down to Billingshurt for the Christmas Fair where I had a stall booked to sell my beauty products.

I still need to figure out what food to bring to the Thanksgiving meal and have two batches of body butter to make, jar up and label for the Christmas Fair.  This could be a very long day.  But what I have learned is that if I stop and think too much about all the work I have to do I get overwhelmed from the work load and become “stress paralysed” as they say in the movie “Mom’s night out”.  That is so a real thing!

I know you mum’s know what I’m talking about.  You start off making your to-do list and then you become frozen by the volume of work that needs to be done while having a mild panic attack about how much more work there will be if you keep sitting still.  But you just can’t seem to move and face all the work because the thought of it all just STRESSES you out – stress paralysis!  Very, very sad, but yet very real.

So my defence mechanism against such “stress paralysis” is to just keep moving.  You just do one thing and then the other until all the work is done.  You basically turn into Jason Bourne from the Bourne Identity. The more pressure and stress he was under the quicker and harder he would work.  Brilliant, but I believe this is not exclusive to highly trained secret government agents.  Us mum’s can do this too!  I do it all the time at my work, at home with the kids doing housework and any other place that requires exhaustive amounts of work.  Just keep moving.  Don’t give up, don’t think about it and just keep going.

Everybody has to do hard work and even though our work as mum’s can sometimes play some cruel psychological jokes on us, we’re not any worse off than any mother out there – or so my mother keeps telling me?!?

So if you’re caught up in the extra doses of hard work and stress this time of year can bring – just breathe and keep going.  It will come to an end – Hallelujah!  Christmas will come, holiday’s will arrive and we can finally sit down with a hot drink and enjoy our families.

Happy Holidays x

 

5 Steps To Ultimate Rest

5 Steps To Ultimate Rest

I was amazed at the response I got from ‘How To rest and Not Feel Guilty’. I thought I would go into it with a bit more detail on how we can actually make sure we get time to rest often enough so that we don’t reach breaking point and then feel completely guilty.

Most of us will chill out at some point in our week.  And yes, we all have weeks where every second is filled with a to-do list longer than the great wall of China, but those are the weeks where it becomes paramount to find time to recover.

So here’s some ideas on how to get ultimate rest each week.

1. Schedule It In

Learning to schedule in rest is the only sure way to actually make it happen each week. Spend 10 minutes before bed on Sunday night going through the week and scheduling in your time for rest.  I try to keep to the same time each week, but not everyone’s schedule may allow for that.  The most important thing is that you schedule it in every week.

2. Do Something You Enjoy

Like I said before, we all have different capacities and some of us reach our limits a lot quicker than others.  One person’s rest may be another person’s worst nightmare.  Make sure you do something that makes you feel relaxed.  Not all of us need to take a nap to recharge, but don’t spend that precious ‘down time’ scrubbing your kitchen floor.  It may be just having a couple hours of alone time one morning a week, a night out with friends to get in some proper adult girl time, or having a designated lie-in morning where you don’t have to make breakfast for the kids.

3. Learn Something New

So often in motherhood we can lose our joy and passion because we’ve stopped learning or trying new things.  Life can become quite repetitive with babies and it can squeeze all our creativity out of us.  Take up a new hobby like knitting or crochet, join a book club, try a new sport or learn a new skill like photography. Stretching our minds and getting creative is incredibly therapeutic and excellent exercise for our brains.  Keep that grey matter moving!

4. Get More Sleep

You probably saw this one coming, but we need sleep to improve our mood and generate necessary hormones, to heal and strengthen our bodies and improve brain function.  These all seem like pretty important things in our lives, but most of the time we simply don’t get enough sleep to keep our bodies functioning properly.  With 4-5 hours of broken sleep most nights no wonder we’re irritable, have headaches and find it hard to cope with crying, teething toddlers!  Set your alarm for 30 minutes before you want to go to bed to get into the habit of going to bed at the same time each night and make sure you get at least 7 hours of sleep.

5. Have Fun With Your Family

This may seem out of place, but when we get stressed we can sometimes back ourselves into a corner.  We can easily withdraw emotionally when life gets full-on and go into survival mode.  This kills the love in our lives.   Don’t forget to enjoy your family.  When you feel like escaping from your family – don’t.  Make a plan to do something relaxing together like going for a walk through the woods and coming home to hot chocolate and a bath, go on a date with your husband and spend lots of time kissing.  This may just sound like a lot of work, but believe me, it’s therapy heaven!  You’ll remember why you love the people in your life and you’ll get the best out of them.

I hope this gives you some ideas on how to create time in your life to rest.  Share your ideas, what’s your favourite way to rest and recharge?? 

 

How To Have Peace in Chaos

How to Have Peace in chaos


The older I get the more distractions there seem to be in life.  I’m constantly meeting new people, making friends, discovering new ideas, hobbies and work and it can very quickly get very busy.  But as hard as we try to simplify things it doesn’t necessarily make us less busy.   Because even though we’re organised we still have a lot of work that needs doing.  So how do we keep our focus and our heart on Jesus when there is just so much to do! 

We are commanded to keep the Kingdom of God our first priority and always remain in Him.  Sticking to this as our first priority is the secret to unlocking peace and purpose in our lives.  Hard work is hard work and stress can easily start to creep in as birthday parties get missed (I can never keep track of them all!), mummy wakes up late and makes everybody late, dinner isn’t cooked on time, and nappies forget to be changed.  It can all get out of hand very quickly and suddenly we’re living with chaos and anxiety.  
 
So how do we keep our focus on Jesus and walk in peace and purpose rather than chaos and stress?  

1. Start with prayer – always, always, always going straight to God first and laying everything at his feet.  Philippians 4:6  

 
Giving our worries, concerns, our to-do lists and life long dreams and short term goals to Jesus is the surest way to walking in peace and purpose.  God has the best plan for us but by trying to do everything by ourselves just makes it more difficult.   If we give God our plans he’ll realign our priorities to help us get where we need to go.  

2. Walk in humility – admitting that our way isn’t working and turning to God for guidance is a humbling experience. Proverbs 22:4  

Living in denial that if it’s not working we’re not trying hard enough is a recipe for a nervous break-down!  We need to be willing to reveal our weaknesses to God to gain from His strength.  
 

3. Work With Jesus – His yoke is easy and his burden is light.  Matthew 11:29-30

Being connected and working together with Jesus stops us from striving in our own strength and start trusting in His strength.  A yoke is usually designed to connect two ox together to dissipate weight making it easier to go a longer distance in a shorter amount of time.  So often we forget to use the yoke and instead try carrying our bucket loads in our hands.  We’re working harder and slower on our own, but using a yoke we connect with God and go farther faster.  If we connect to the yoke of God we are promised rest for our souls – now that sounds good to me!