2020 Has Been Hard, Especially For Parents. Now's The Time For A Break

If all you manage to achieve this Christmas is an entire box of Heroes in one sitting, that's okay.
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It has been a year. Hasn’t it? It has. I hear you.

It’s been no picnic for any of us, but if you’re a parent or carer of young children, the unique pressures of parenting through 2020 are probably still with you like a bad dream you’re struggling to shake off.

We’ve been shaken by the horrors of homeschooling, the fear and anxiety over whether or not to send our kids back to school, as well as the teaching bubbles forced to self-isolate following positive Covid-19 cases within the classroom.

Even if your family has stayed healthy – for which we should be truly thankful – it’s been a tough year for both working and non-working parents alike. And that’s exactly why you need a rest. You deserve one. Big time.

Here are nine tips on how to make the most of Christmas 2020 – without stressing yourself out.

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Don’t be afraid to indulge. If there was ever a time not to beat yourself up over ploughing through an entire box of Heroes chocolates in one sitting, it’s now. Plus, eating cocoa has been found to release “feel good” chemicals called endorphins. Studies have even shown eating chocolate can boost your memory and reduce stress. So you’re really eating those Heroes for health reasons. Win.

Go outside for a family walk. “Being outside and in the fresh air can really clear your head,” says Norland Nanny Louenna Hood. “Children have the freedom to run and shout without the confinement of the house which allows them to let off steam.” The same goes for grown-ups. Plus, a number of studies have examined the links between being in nature and the possible benefits to our mental health.

Take a deep breath. No really, just breathe. Christmas can be stressful – especially this year, if you aren’t seeing extended family members due to tier restrictions. Over the festive period, remind yourself to breathe if things get too much. “Sometimes, just giving yourself two breaths before reacting can avoid a rash shouty reply,” says Hood. “When things get stressful, say to yourself ‘will this matter in a year’s time?’ If the answer is no, there’s no point stressing.”

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Consider a takeaway dinner. Yes, it’s Christmas – but if the idea of slaving away on a roast turkey dinner with all the trimmings makes you feel stressed, why add to your burden? Especially if you’re cooking at home last-minute due to a change in tiers. Some restaurants are offering a cook-from-scratch seven-course ‘Christmas dinner kit’, with optional matching wines. Or, you could take a punt on Just Eat. If you can’t find a roast dinner, go for your favourite takeaway. This Christmas, there are no rules.

Set your own schedule. The true joy of Christmas, this year – particularly if you’re seeing fewer family members than usual – is that you get to call the shots. If that means nobody gets out of their pyjamas all day, and you watch festive films back-to-back, so be it. You can even be the Christmas Grinch and forget the whole thing, if you like. Bah, humbug.

Buy yourself a present. You know that deeply impractical gold sequinned dress you saw on The Outnet for a steal? Treat yourself. Yes, we know you have nowhere to wear it, and you haven’t had an office party this year, and you aren’t leaving the house on New Year’s Eve for the first time in forever – we don’t care. You need that dress. You deserve that dress. You can wear it next Christmas (or just dress up for Jools Holland).

Take time out. Time out isn’t just for over-excitable kids – but for all of us. If it’s all getting too much during the Christmas break, suggest a family reset, says Hood. “If your children are running around or arguing, explain in a nice way that everyone is having some time out – the whole family. “Everyone can go to their own area and do something quietly for 20 minutes. Whether this is playing alone in their bedroom, or sitting on the sofa with a book. Having a moment of calm will help your feeling of being overwhelmed.”