Family coming to stay at Christmas? Here are 3 things you can do to take control

So Christmas is only a few weeks away and you’re already feeling stressed.  Everywhere you go  there’s Christmas music, and every time you turn on the TV all you see are ‘happy family’ adverts.  You can feel the stress and dread building, and the worst thing is you have family coming to stay and so you can’t even escape in your own home.

And you used to love Christmas so much; you can remember the times when you used to look forward to decorating the house, and planning everything.

So what changed?

In those days you hoped you’d have children, and now you know that’s not going to happen, so you’re stuck. You want to do something to help you get through, but you don’t know what.

Here are 3 things you can do to start to take control:

1. Make a plan – establish new traditions

What’s the betting you have lists for presents, cards and food, but you don’t have a plan for the time you’ll be spending at home. Over the years of having parents to stay I’ve learned that having a plan works well. I’ve already started to work out what we’ll do each day, I invite other people over, we go to a show, and I record or buy ‘suitable’ family films that we can all watch.

What’s important is having things to fill the time, and even better if they’re fun or give you something to talk about afterwards.

Over the years some of these, like going to a carol service on Christmas Eve and going for a walk every day have become new traditions.

How can you start to plan now?

2. Plan a treat for January

Malham I find that having something positive to look forward in January really keeps me going.

And it can be something simple – a day in the country with my husband gives me something to look forward to and is enough to recharge me.

This works even better for me if I can keep reminding myself of the treat and I do this by keeping a relevant photo in a prominent place.

What can you organise now that you can look forward to in January?

3. Establish a self-care routine

In the past I’ve been pretty hard on myself and my self – talk was really negative.

Now I know how destructive this negativity can be and I’ve turned my life round by learning the importance of self-compassion and establishing (and practicing) a self-care routine.

When I’m feeling negative I stop and say to myself “this is really hard, how can I comfort and care for myself?

This has made a massive difference to how I feel about myself generally and how I cope when I’m struggling.

self compassion resizedA Moment of self-compassion can change your entire day. A string of such moments can change the course of your life. Christopher K Germer

How much difference would it make if you were kind to yourself?

How can you be being caring and understanding when you’re having a hard time?

You may also want to think about how to carve out a few minutes with your partner to care for each other. You know that a loving touch or a look can really turn your day around when you’re feeling low, so how can you use this?

And remember ‘This too will pass.’ In a few weeks you’ll be looking back and congratulating yourself on how well you coped with Christmas 2013 compared to 2012.

2 thoughts on “Family coming to stay at Christmas? Here are 3 things you can do to take control”

  1. Lesley – although I don’t have children (by choice), I always find Christmas to be a particularly difficult time of year too. I found the tips you have provided to be useful in my situation also, particularly the one about establishing new traditions. It’s so easy to be caught up in our memories of what Christmas used to be like and also our expectations of what it should be like. I’m going to spend some time thinking about how I can reinvent Christmas into something I look forward to each year. 🙂


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