It’s that time of year again, you’re going to be childless at Christmas & the feeling of dread is building.
If you’re like I used to be, you’ll want to hide away until January. But we both know that’s not possible.
What you can do instead is to prepare yourself so you lessen the impact.
I have mixed feelings about Christmas. I’m as at peace with not having children as I’ll ever be and not having my parents is tougher to deal with. There are a number of reasons, I guess mainly to do with missing their presence on the day.
This year I feel reluctant to get into the ‘Christmas Spirit’. I guess it’s early yet (& maybe that’s the point!), I’m writing this on 19th November but I’m already fed up with the Christmas adverts. We visited family at the end of October & were offered mince pies (noooo). I saw a Facebook post the other day which was ‘there are 12 days of Christmas & none of them are in November.’ Quite.
I hope that doesn’t make me seem too miserable; I feel very strongly that, in the UK at least it’s become far too commercial. And I’m determined not to fall for that.
It’s time to do Christmas differently
This year, for only the second time it will be just the two of us over Christmas, so it will be quieter & the main thing is we can be flexible. We’ll definitely get out into the countryside unless the weather’s too bad then we’ll stay in & read.
Some years we’ve had a detailed programme, but this year that’s not what we want. Apart from a couple of dates & seeing friends over New Year we have no plans. Which is lovely. Each year what we do changes & evolves; we’re keeping those things we love and making our own mark on the holiday. One tradition we do have, is to buy decorations on our travels, hence the bears & rather mad looking starfish.
Kindness & self-care are keys
In the past I pushed myself hard, attending lots of events with the result that I started the next year with no energy & feeling very low. These days I know & care for myself so much better (hence leaving plenty of space in my diary), I put myself first and do what’s best for me.
If I could only offer you one tip, this would be it. Make time & space for yourself, & always treat yourself with kindness. Ok maybe that’s two, but in my mind they go together. Self-kindness means many things & perhaps the most important is putting yourself first.
It doesn’t have to be huge amounts of time; you can start small by escaping outside or to the bathroom for a few minutes when it all gets too overwhelming.
In the past when we spent most of the holidays with others, I put aside time in January to pause and reflect on the past year and to look ahead to what I want for next year. So perhaps this is something you could do too.
Doing things differently & putting ourselves first have made such a difference to both of us & I encourage you to do the same. So of course here are a couple of questions:
How could you do Christmas differently this year?
What specifically will you do to be kinder to yourself?
One thing you can always do is to breathe consciously, here’s a short audio which you can use at any time.
And now some resources for you
Below I’ve listed links for previous blogs written by myself and others sharing tips and suggestions on how to get through Christmas. Just like the different chapters in Finding Joy, some of these will resonate & some won’t. And that’s Okay. I encourage you to read with a curious mind & be open to the possibility that some might help you.
I’ll add to these as more become available, so please check back from time to time.
Here are my blogs:
Here’s an episode of the Fullstop Podcast (call F**K the Festivities) where Michael, Sarah and Berenice were joined by Emily Scott from IVF Fairness to talk about coping during the holidays. I know there will be another episode soon, so do look out for it.
A blog by Jody, featuring her recent ‘Coping with Holiday Expectations’ webinar for More to Life, along with a full transcript. In it Jody & her team talk about the ‘Perfect Storm’& how it applies to your holidays.
Here’s probably the most important podcast for you to listen to – the Full Stop Podcast, Episode 8: The Alternative Kings and Queens Speech
“Christmas is hard work at the best of times, but being part of this community only makes it harder. Yes, we get it and that’s why we’ve done something different with episode 8 – The Alternative Kings and Queens speech. Because as Michael’s mantra says ‘you’re not alone’, and we’ve chanelled that into this episode with voices speaking from our community, big and not so big, to support you all. As you’ll hear, the messages are filled with love, support, guidance and most of all, understanding. Yes, Christmas will never be straightforward for us, because it’s difficult to be on the outside looking in, but we hope this episode will help you realise you’re part of a community full of friends, love and shared emotions. And believe us, there was plenty of that as we made this episode for you.
We hope you find it supportive and that Christmas is a time of peace and reflection for you.
Our thanks to: Jody Day, Lesley Pyne, Andy Harrod, Civilla Morgan, Rosalind Bubb, Anne Barratt, Stephanie Phillips, Brandi Higgins Lytle, Helen Segal, Kate Kauffman, Tanya Trusler, Tessa Broad, Yvonne John, Sophia Andeh and Jennifer Parrish. We also welcomed submissions from those who did not want to share their name at this time, thank you for taking part.”
Here’s the tapping video referred to by Rosalind Bubb. “Learn how to use a simple and effective form of “tapping”, secretly and invisibly, so that you can feel better straight away – without anyone knowing that you’re doing it! It’s very easy to learn and to use.” From this video, there’s also a link to a 15 minute ‘introduction to tapping’ video which you might also find helpful.
Here’s a blog by Jody 4 Tips to Cope with (and even enjoy) your childless Christmas
How to Get From Thanksgiving to New Years When You’re Not in the Mood by Mel at Stirrup Queens
Learning to Reset Your Holiday Expectations by Life Without Baby
Support for Holidays, by Mother in your Heart
The truth about being childless, not by choice, at Christmas, by Sarah Roberts
Here’s something to pass on to your friends & family – Tips on how to support an involuntary childless friend from Walk in Your Shoes,
Reflections, from Childless Not By Choice
How to Get From Thanksgiving to New Years When You’re Not in the Mood from Stirrup Queen.
Yes, Virginia, There Are Lovely ‘Fertiles’ Out There from Pamela Mahoney Tsigdinos
Thinking about Christmas from The Road Less Travelled
The Dreaded C Word from Sarah Lawrence
12 Ways I’m Showing the Holidays Who’s Boss by Infertility Honesty
And a video by a lovely friend Corrina Gordon Barnes, Dreading The Family Gathering? Try This . It’s not written specifically for those of us who are childless but it’s great.
Life Without Baby: Holiday Companion
As Lisa writes on Life Without Baby ‘ When you’re a childless woman, the bombardment of family-focused activities during the holiday season can be enough to make you want to hibernate until January. Lisa Manterfield and Kathleen Guthrie Woods know exactly how that feels, and they have written something that can help.
Holiday Companion is a compilation of humorous, healing, and thought-provoking posts drawn from the archives of Life Without Baby, the international online community for women who are childfree by choice, chance, or circumstance. By sharing their own experiences, survival tips, and insights from their readers, Manterfield and Woods offer encouragement and compassion to help you get through the holidays and get closer to making peace with being childfree.’
And of course you might wish to treat yourself to Finding Joy Beyond Childlessness, where you’ll find plenty of tips and tricks to support you.
Thank you for travelling with me this year and please remember: it WILL pass, YOU WILL get through it. This year will go better than last year and in no time at all it will be January.
If any of these have helped you or you have other tips for getting through the holidays please leave a comment below. Thank you