Happy Mums Top Tips for surviving Christmas with a little person
Stock the medicine cupboard - Christmas provides a cruel combination of germs and reduced opening hours of places where you might buy much needed meds. So make sure you have a good stash of both kids and adult medicines - Calpol (or equivalent), Ibuprofen, any other cold relievers such as vapour rubs, snot suckers (if that’s not got stocking filler written all over it I don’t know what has!), plug-ins, saline nose drops. My baby got her first really bad cold on Christmas Day and while it was only a cold her high temperature made her throw up, she couldn’t breathe through her little nostril and we were all therefore miserable. My wonderful next door neighbour came to the rescue with Ibuprofen, as I only had Calpol. If you are on prescription medication make sure you have enough to get you through reduced opening hours and any time you are away. If necessary discuss a plan to get more to see you through. If like me you only get a limited amount at a time, make arrangements for a loved one to collect.
Don’t be afraid to say no - it can be even harder at Christmas than other times to keep your own needs, and those of your young family, at the heart of your plans. There can be so many people who want to share the special time with you so try to run through in your head each day at a time and don’t be afraid to turn down invites. If it’s easier with your little one ask people to come to you, but again don’t be afraid to keep things simple and tell people you don’t want visitors.
Try not to put too much pressure on things to be perfect - it is, after all, just another day. It will pass as soon as it’s there and the world will keep on turning. It can be so easy to get drawn into deadlines - ‘I must finish the decorating” “I need a new sofa” - but try to remember they aren’t set in stone and nothing is ever perfect. Especially with small children. It may be chaotic and messy, with some tears and some raised voices.
Make your own traditions - This one comes courtesy of Katherine, Happy Mums chief exec. There are so many pressures from TV and social media to embark upon intensive traditions (elves on shelves - you know we mean you). You don’t have to take on them all - pick some that work for you and don’t get you in a flap trying to maintain.
Know how to get help - Whether you are under the care of mental health professionals or not, make sure you know how and where to access help if you aren’t coping. This might be the number of the crisis team, the Samaritans or out of hours GP services. Have the numbers handy and make sure those around you know what to do if you need extra help when normal services aren’t open.
Go easy on the alcohol - If you know it makes your mood dip, try to limit it. If daytime drinking makes you low wait till later. Whatever works for you.
Take each hour at a time - If you are really overwhelmed and struggling to cope with the demands of socialising, or of loneliness, then just focus on the hour ahead. Taken all together the festive season can send your head into a spin so break it down and take a breath.
Take a moment to yourself - whether in the toilet with the door locked, or a quick trip to the shop for milk try and carve out even a couple of minutes where nobody can make any demands on you. As a mum it can particularly feel like everybody wants you to do something for them, and that can get a bit much.
Put the tree in a playpen - this top tip came thanks to Helen in Dalston co-op and has worked a treat with my toddler. We have fairy lights and tinsel round the playpen but rascally hands have been kept away from baubles, and presents.
Don’t spend loads of money on babies - they really don’t care. They would be just as happy with an empty box as an expensive toy. Ask people to buy them things they need if they want to get a gift.