Tips for parents drowning in Christmas card lists, work, Amazon deliveries, half-finished paper chains and out-of-control diaries.
miodrag ignjatovic via Getty Images

We’re now full swing in the thick of the December mayhem, and each year it only seems to intensify. For parents everywhere drowning in Christmas card lists, work, Amazon deliveries, half-finished paper chains and out-of-control diaries, here are ten tips for keeping steady during the festive season:

1. Don’t sweat the small stuff

It’s guaranteed that in the December chaos you will do at least one of the following….double-book social engagements and have to cancel one of them, accidentally put your foot in your mouth at a work, family or social gathering, and/or forget something (usually a PTA donation or a Secret Santa gift). If and when it happens, apologise once with feeling, then put it behind you and move on. Anyone who doesn’t understand Xmas Mum-brain as a mitigating factor isn’t worth worrying about.

2. Be Merry!

’Tis the season to be jolly! Isn’t it? The complex logistics of managing present-buying, social engagements, school events and family visits while holding down an actual job can seem to obliterate all fun in December. This month will always be part-military operation but don’t forget to enjoy yourself. Surround yourself with people that make you feel joyful and relaxed, see old friends, be silly, have that extra drink and throw caution to the weeknight hangover. Post-November there are no judgements for anyone looking a little queasy in the playground at morning drop-off (or pick up....).

3. Say ‘no’

On the flip side, don’t feel you have to say yes to every Mums’ night out, last-minute festive nibbles and carol concert you get invited to. Your own family comes first and sometimes that means politely declining social engagements and spending precious time at home watching Christmas films, decorating the house and just relaxing. The kids need it at this time of year as much as we do.

4. Give

Remember what it’s all about and try to give something to those who have less if you can manage it. Giving small donations or a bit of your time to charity, or supporting elderly relatives who are struggling at this time of year also puts everything in perspective. Showing the kids what you’re doing and involving them teaches them that it’s not all about the presents…

5. Indulge, guilt-free

It’s now or never. Summer beach body concerns are a distant memory, January diets loom depressingly on the horizon so now is the time to throw caution to the wind, dig out the elasticated waistbands, stockpile the paracetamol and indulge if you so wish. Baileys, mince pies, prosecco, After Eights, cheese and biscuits….and that’s just before midday. All bets are off at Christmas and the kids will love watching you match them chocolate treat for chocolate treat.

6. Get your ‘hygge’ on

The famously happy Danes have got it right with their national obsession with all things cosy and contented. December is the time to embrace their style by hunkering down with the kids and shutting the door for snug days and nights in with sweatpants, blankets, games, books, roaring fires and mugs of steaming hot chocolate. Make your to-do list a distant memory, cherish lazy time with the kids and replenish depleted energy levels.

7. Exercise

It sounds like the domain of the smug, but few things make me feel calmer than 30 minutes’ exercise in the fresh air. Happy endorphins will buzz for the rest of the day, your skin will look better, your body will feel less toxic and your mind more able to deal with the family and the kids. Plus it’s rare festive time-out from other humans. Total no brainer.

8. Take a Mum Break

You’ve planned it, you’ve bought it, you’ve wrapped it, you’ve cleaned it, you’ve cooked it, and now its time for a rest. If you can get your partner or a friend to look after the kids, try to take one well-deserved day off after the big day and do something just for you. Could be an afternoon at the spa or something as simple as coffee and a walk with a friend. Rare leisure time without the kids does wonders for the soul.

9. Celebrate 2018

When you’re chugging along as usual trying to keep the balls of work and family life in the air, it’s easy to assume that you’ve not achieved anything particularly special over the past 12 months. But the chances are you’ve done much more than you think. Enjoy the feel-good factor of stopping to reflect back on the past year as a family and celebrating all of your 2018 highs and milestones, big and small. As well as laughing at some of the disastrous moments…

10. Feel excited about the New Year

Expectations run high during family Christmases and the reality doesn’t always match up, so don’t spend the whole break focusing on the festivities. Spare a little time to think about what’s coming up next year and what you’d like to achieve, be that a career change, home improvements, a holiday, studies, fitness or anything else, it’s nice to end the year with a flutter of excitement in your stomach about what’s on the horizon.