As I type this I’m exhausted. Like having a little weep in self pity style exhausted. My brain feels like this picture.
A lovely christmas party followed by a night of zero sleep due to a snotty and overtired baby, add into the mix two teenagers who are bored by two days at home (even snow gets dull after a while), a massive event tomorrow and a very large family christmas just around the corner and you have the perfect storm for a Maman meltdown (and we all know I’m prone.)
But I know I’m not the only one. At this time of year we are all under so much pressure to spend quality time with every single person we’ve ever met, to attend all of the school, church, village concerts – book tickets before they all sell out and be first in the queue on the night to secure the front row seat even if our child’s role is that of ‘citizen’ rather than Joseph (true story.)
Plus many of us will be hoping for a bit of time away from work over the festive period so we’ll be struggling to cram in a month’s worth of labour into a fortnight. Doesn’t leave space for much of a festive fizz hangover really does it?
Modern life is exciting. It’s a mile a minute and as a generation we are spoiled for choice about what to do and where to do it but it’s meant that that age old saying ‘it takes a village to raise a child’ is really tricky to apply. A lot of us have complicated families (myself included) and often they don’t live just around the corner so as well as pedalling hard to please our own children we can often be putting ourselves under immense pressure to have the ‘perfect’ family christmas – often more than once with a different set of relatives! Is it any wonder that by the time we actually get to christmas itself often all we want to do is sit about in our pyjamas and attack the quality street?
Having said that Christmas is all about family and I know the christmases I remember from my childhood were the ones when the house was full to bursting and I was surrounded by those that I love. So it’s important that we strike the balance between not putting ourselves under too much pressure but making Christmas really special. Here’s some interesting statistics from new research* by Center Parcs that demonstrate how many of us struggle to make family time work.
One in three (36%) of us only see our parents once a year and half (52%) of people see their siblings less than six times a year.
Furthermore, more than a quarter (27%) of people only make the effort to see their immediate families at special occasions such as birthdays, Christmas and weddings.
Despite nine in ten (90%) people saying they like spending time with their families, 38 per cent say it’s too difficult to regularly meet up. The main reasons for this were; distance from each other, juggling busy diaries and lack of space.
However, Christmas is the time of year when people do make the extra effort to arrange the logistics, with the average person starting to discuss plans on the 19th of August and locking them in a whole two months before. In fact, one in fifteen (7%) find it so difficult, they start planning where they will be for Christmas a year in advance.
The average household will this year have six family members sitting round the dinner table and one in seven (13%) even have a family member stay in a nearby hotel overnight to make sure they get to see each other.
Even though people go above and beyond because it’s Christmas, we’re actually still trying to get out of having to host the day, with 41% having refused to host Christmas at their house – blaming the size of their house (16%) and the amount of work that goes in to hosting (10%) as the main reasons we’re not keen.
However, Psychologist Emma Kenny says that quality time together as a family unit throughout the year – and not just at Christmas – is essential to mental wellbeing and has devised some top tips to help remove the pressure from family get togethers.
- ‘Meet semi-regularly – not too often that little things become annoying, but regularly enough that you don’t put too much pressure on the occasion
- Delegate – If you are getting together make sure everyone chips in by bringing food and drink along. This way no one needs to stress and everyone gets involved
- Have fun – Make meeting up fun by planning activities that you can all enjoy together. Whether it involves going to the park, or taking part in a new activity. Trying something a little different means everyone will take something positive from the experience
- Get organised – If you want your get together to work out well, then make sure that everyone knows exactly what they are doing, where they are meant to be and what time they need to arrive. This means that no one becomes stressed or anxious and helps to create a harmonious event
- Take turns hosting – Make sure that your meet ups are shared and don’t end up becoming one person’s responsibility. The whole aim of connecting regularly with your family is to increase bonding and make you all feel connected, and that can’t happen if one person has to be the host on each occasion. At the end of each meet agree who will go next so that everyone is treated equally’
As for my advice? For those of you starting to stress about the big day remember it’s just a date. Number of presents, moisture of turkey, and symmetry of christmas tree decorations will all become irrelevant when the clan gets together – factor in a quiet day to recover and share the load – remember this is your christmas too! If it all gets too much take five minutes to yourself and let someone else pick up the slack. Sometimes the run up to Christmas can be more fun than the date itself so slow down a bit and enjoy it – don’t sweat the small stuff and remember that family members who comment on your cobwebs maybe shouldn’t get an invite next year!
This post was sponsored by Center Parcs
Families who want to book a trip to Center Parcs for some quality time together can visit: www.centerparcs.co.uk
Find out how to get together again at: http://blog.centerparcs.co.uk/give-the-gift-of-family-time/
(* A representative sample of 2000 UK adults were surveyed in November 2017 by Mortar. Based on 3% of the adult UK population of 51,767,543)