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6 December 2019

Tips for a stress-free lead-up to the holiday season

I was recently interviewed on radio about time tips to help manage pre-Christmas stress.

After I’d shared the tips in the  short article below, the interviewer said, ‘That’s not what I expected at all, Robyn. I thought you’d tell the listeners the usual things like “Get organised early”, “Make lists” and similar – the kind of advice we trot out year after year.’

So, what were my tips? Read on …

SHORT ARTICLE: Tips for a stress-free lead-up to the holiday season

Mastering pre-holiday stress all revolves round one big key, in my belief – Keeping Things Simple. Here are four of my favourite strategies.

1. Keep gift-giving simple.
Instead of giving ‘stuff, what about experiences – paint ball, water slides, a boat trip. I give books or vouchers but only to the grandchildren under 21. The older kids love selecting their own book with their voucher. The children in our five families give to two cousins each, with the mothers creating a list so no-one misses out.
Benefits: quick, and not too expensive.

2. Perfection is not necessary.
Your loved ones are coming to see each other, not to do a house or garden inspection. Don’t try and get every last house or garden project finished before Christmas. It rarely matters.
Benefit: you can enjoy the pre-Christmas social events without worrying about a huge to-do list.

3. Pot-luck meals save time and hostess stress.
Let everyone bring their favourite dish for shared meals, including Christmas Day. Save complicated recipes for other times of the year.
Benefit: you’re not slaving over the stove for days beforehand.

4. When everyone’s there, you don’t have to do everything.
I’ve got a very large family, and in earlier years I ran myself ragged trying to keep everything flowing smoothly and efficiently. Whilst family members sat enjoying conversation, I’d be up and organising the next task – food, dishes, grandchildren, or general tidying up. Eventually one of my adult sons said, ‘Mum, why don’t you just sit down and let others do things when they’re ready? Everything will get done eventually.’

This was a revolutionary idea! At first it was hard to sit still, but within a surprisingly short time, I was converted. These days my children comment on how relaxed I am! And guess what – they never starve, the dishes end up clean, and everyone finds a bed.

Here’s an affirmation you might like to try: ‘I am always relaxed and everything is done in its right time.’ 

PERSONAL UPDATE:

I’m not long back from an awesome nine-day road trip around the top half of the South Island with two long-time girlfriends. The photo at the top was our final morning’s view of sunrise at Kaikoura. So serene. (And yes, we did see whales diving.)

I’m really grateful for that lovely relaxing holiday, for less than a week later things in my world became rather less than serene!

I’d only been home a few days before heading off again, this time to Palmerston North for a couple of days to help one of my sons and family move house. The day before returning home, I took a call from a neighbour. The entire downstairs of my house was flooded! Burst pipe!

Right now I’m mostly ignoring the 18 dehumidifiers and airblowers pounding away beneath my feet – about 8-10 days  are needed to be sure no condensation is in the walls. I only venture downstairs to eat or go outside – it’s not pleasant!

I’m so grateful for wonderful neighbours who found the flood and dealt with it quickly (water had probably only been gushing for about three hours); the good people at Jae Carpet Services are awesome; and it happened before Christmas. Things will be restored before the family descends en masse!


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