Coping With Chirstmas Family Stress

Coping at Christmas

Christmas, is a time of fun, joy and celebration, but it can also be the most stressful of times for even the best of parents, with the family home chaotic and often besieged by visitors. Throw into the mix over-excited children, who have weeks to sit around at home, and the situation can quickly spiral out of control.

Keeping your grandchildren calm and entertained will be the key to helping keep the peace and getting through the Christmas holiday period with as few hiccups as possible. But before you begin to think about your grandchildren make sure you give yourself some time each day to relax and unwind. It is really important when so much going on around you that you make time for yourself, keep your energy levels high and remain positive in order to keep on top of everything. Successful grandparents need to look after themselves as well as their grandchildren, setting an example of behaviour your grandchildren can look up to and imitate.

Here are a few practical tips to help you and your children or grandchildren have the happiest Christmas ever:

– Make time for both you and your family: provide times of the day where you will be together and uninterrupted (don’t even answer the phone!). Similarly, make sure at least once a week you give yourself enough time to do things you want without distractions.

– Organise group and family activities to keep your grandchildren as active as possible, such as making Christmas cards, decorations or wrapping presents.

– Homework: If possible try to get them to complete this early in the holidays as the later they leave it the less motivated they will be.

– Give your grandchildren a sense of routine, keeping to weekly events. You could provide them with some added responsibilities such as regular housework. They could then complete this in return for being allowed to watch the TV for a little while extra etc. This will give you a little respite and reminds them that holidays are not simply an excuse to do nothing at all.

When disputes break out between siblings try to remain calm as this helps to prevent their squabbles escalating. Take them both to one side and explain the behaviour you want to see, very clearly and specifically. Focus on the positive things you see and hear and give praise when your child does something you want to see no matter how small it may be.

Coping with stress

Bringing up children isn’t always easy. Many challenges, frustrations, and changes are involved in raising happy, confident, well-balanced children. It is not (usually) your responsibility to raise your grandchildren, but you do want to keep the peace so your festive season has some festive in it!

Eliminating stress takes time. Stress management has become an everyday routine and part of large businesses as they realise handling stress positively increases efficiency and well being. So start this week to take notice of where you are becoming overwhelmed or feeling stressed and write down the things that make you feel out of control and anxious. This will help you to notice a pattern and will help you to make some small changes that will make a big difference in your life.

‘Overwhelmed’ and ‘stressed’ are two words many grandparents use to describe their situation. Remember, stress drains your energy and always has a huge negative impact on you and your family. If you run on empty for too long, you run out – your family needs you to be energised, upbeat and happy.

Start to manage your stress by taking energy breaks and making dates with yourself. Write down a list of all the little things you can do to replenish your batteries, put back a spring in your step, which makes your eyes shine and has you singing in the shower again! Is it enjoying a cup of green tea, sitting down quietly for 15 minutes in the kitchen, or taking a long, hot bath?

Just become more aware of taking time out for yourself each day, each week, and each month, and make a promise to yourself to do these little things on a regular basis. Put some simple dates in your diary so you get into the habit of making these treats an everyday occurrence.

The following exercise is just one way to take back control when you feel everything is spiralling out of control:

Relax and breathe slowly and deeply.

Allow your shoulders to drop. Allow your whole body to relax.

Mentally give yourself a gift, the gift of being peaceful and relaxed now.

Imagine what you really want to achieve.

Imagine what you can see and hear and imagine how you feel.

Turn the colours of the picture up brighter and the sounds you can hear up louder, and make the feelings more intense.

Really step inside your picture and enjoy the warm feelings of joy and success, pleasure and pride. See yourself smiling. Feel content and happy knowing that you have done a good job.

Make the sounds louder, the colours brighter and the feelings stronger and bring the pictures and sounds and feelings really close to you, and then clench your fist tightly.

As you clench your fist, remind yourself of this amazing experience. Breathe deeply and slowly, savouring, remembering, and relishing these wonderful feelings, sounds and pictures.

Breathe deeply and become aware of the sounds in the room.

Feel your feet on the ground and your body on your chair. Start to come back to where you are and now and open your eyes.

And finally…

A simple physical change you can make, is to just start smiling. This may sound crazy, but merely smiling actually sends a message to your brain that makes you feel better straight away as it releases endorphins, which make you feel good. Try it for yourself and see the difference!

So the next time you feel everything is getting on top of you, don’t panic or get angry, simply start by pressing your own internal pause button, taking three deep slow breaths in and out and feel yourself getting grounded and centred. Remember to be patient with yourself, learning new ways to cope and breaking old habits takes time.

Always keep the big picture in mind, being a grandparent is not always easy.