'Tis the season

Christmas: Lists. Shopping. Decorating. Wrapping. Christmas craft. Presentation ceremonies. Dance concerts. Carols. Christmas catch ups. Cooking. Eating ... Fall in a heap.

Sound familiar, mamas?

If this is you, it’s time to slow down, take stock and take some time for ‘self care’.

Amongst the Christmas craziness, I often find that this time of the year can actually become a time of reflection.

In fact I love this about Christmas.

As I sort through the photos taken through the year, searching for a couple of snaps that reflect some highlights of the year, I am flooded with memories of the events of the past 12 months. 

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This is actually one of my Christmas rituals – and has become part of our family’s Christmas ‘tradition’. I do this every year and print a tiny copy of the chosen photos and add them to the hangings on our Christmas tree as a decoration.

Then every year around Christmas time I get to look at these historic highlights for our family. It makes me feel very sentimental.

There are cute baby photos, first days of school, houses we have moved to, holidays we’ve taken – and this year I will hang a shot of my little boy dressed up for his year 10 formal, and my baby girl on stage, doing her first solo ballet performance.

If magazines and lifestyle TV ‘Christmas specials’ are anything to go by, Christmas should be – and is – such a magical time.

But let’s face it: setting out to create an Instagram-worthy Christmas as a parent is just plain unrealistic for most people, right?

There are certain realities that come with of this time of the year – see the list above.

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With the combination of the Australian heat, the time pressures, the excitement, the sugar, the Christmas lights, the cooking disasters, the non-stop, seemingly out-of-your-control roundabout of events, the late nights, etc., there’s also a real chance at least one-more-than-is-ever-shown-on-TV/in-magazines ‘melt down’ may occur.

And I am not talking about the kids.

Sometimes things just don’t go to plan.

Compared to the ‘idealised’ Christmas that is marketed to us through repeated advertising and the media around this time of year, of course many ‘real’ Christmas celebrations are going to seem to end badly.

#Note to anybody crazy enough to make a ginger bread house - you really do need to use royal icing, or about 25 mins later, this will happen:

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Somewhere between the possible TV/magazine ‘joy of Christmas’ and the possible Christmas ‘meltdown’ is, perhaps more realistically, where we are going to land. I like to try and look for the balance. I start with big plans, but allow some room for disaster, and thus not setting unrealistic expectations of the starting inspiration actually occurring in full.

It turned out that ‘the gingerbread demolition site’ tasted pretty good, and has given my family many more long-lasting Christmas memories than a perfectly constructed one would have in any case. Sometimes Christmas joy is found in unexpected places!  

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Those Christmas ‘to do’ lists can be overwhelming. I highly recommend reviewing each job on the list with the thought “does this bring me joy?”. Some Christmases, baking 5000 gingerbread men with the kids, while listening to our favourite Christmas mix will feel fun and festive. Other years, this exercise may end very badly, and is just not worth sacrificing your sanity for.

So, if you feel your sanity slipping away, it is time to stop. Reflect. Breath. Review that to do list! How can you simplify the list? What can you delegate/buy online/delete or save for another year when you have more energy? Instead focus on the tasks that bring you joy. And if you have time, make a mental list of all that you are grateful for this Christmas. Take some time for self care. And hug your people. Mamas you rock! And Christmas would not be the same without you.

Big love and Christmas cheer to all the Hunterdoula families that I have worked with over the years. Extra special shout out to those having their first Christmas with their little one, or are awaiting their arrival XXXX