Christmas and the mental load

Updated: Apr 17

Preparing for Christmas, and the big day itself can be incredibly overwhelming, especially when you are shouldering the mental load for a family.

Have we got presents for everyone? What day was Christmas jumper day? What days/times are we visiting different friends and family? One of the kids has written something different on their Christmas list than the thing have been asking for the last 4 months! Everyone else looks like they are having more fun than us on Instagram!

Throw in a new variant of a seemly never ending pandemic, it’s no wonder that the most magical time of the year can leave us wishing for January instead!

That’s why I have compiled a few ‘top tips’ to help you manage your mental load, and mental health over the Christmas period

  1. If you can, delegate

I know it can be easy to try and take on everything yourself, but there are no rewards for singlehandedly making Christmas perfect for everyone, and can just end in burn out for you.

If it makes your life easier, see if you can give a few tasks to someone else!

2. Share the load by talking about it

If you can’t physically delegate roles then talking can lighten your mental load.

With a friend, a therapist or even just out loud to yourself acknowledging the feelings that you are having are valid is important, and can help you make a plan for coping, or realise there are things you are putting on yourself that are not necessary.

3. If you can, let something go

I remember reading a great analogy about how motherhood is like juggling, but all the balls are not created equal, some are glass and cannot be dropped e.g everyone need to be fed, but some are bouncy, and it doesn’t matter if some are lost forever (do you really need to hand make a nativity costume, or is there an easier option?!)

4. Look back at your favourite Christmas memories

Think of fond Christmas memories both from your childhood and those you have had with your children. What made them great? The presents? Or the people around you?! Focus on those memories if you find yourself worrying about having done ‘enough’

5. Remember that social media is a highlights reel

It can be hard seeing other people doing things better or more ‘perfectly’ on social media, having more fun, do we need matching family Christmas pyjamas too?!

It’s not real please do not compare yourself! You are living your family life 24 hours a day, you are seeing their best 10 seconds of that day!

6. Allowing yourself time to grieve

Christmas can bring grief back to the surface. Reminders of a loved one you are missing that used to be there at the Christmas table, or the Christmas experiences that you had planned and imagined to share with someone you never got to meet. Allow yourself a moment to acknowledge these feelings, no matter the time has passed since you lost the person you are missing your grief is valid.

You can write them a letter, light a candle, whatever brings you comfort and connection with that person at this time of year.

7. It’s okay to set boundaries

Set yourself boundaries, visiting times, controversial dinner table subjects whatever you need to to make Christmas a more pleasurable experience for everyone including you!

8. Tantrums will happen

Children thrive on routine, everything Christmas is overwhelming and tantrums will happen.

During those moments remind yourself that you are a great parent, your child feels comfortable expressing their big feelings because they feel secure around you!

9. Remember it’s your Christmas too!

It’s not selfish to do something you want to this Christmas, enjoy your favourite Christmas film, have that glass of Baileys, enjoy a soak in the bath with your new toiletries!

Wishing you a very merry Christmas however you are celebrating!

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