Well, we made it to the end of 2020! If we’re honest, this year has been hard for many of us. Parents and pregnant moms have faced challenges such as:
- Having to choose which birth support partner to be at the hospital during delivery, or facing delivery without a support person
- Adjusting to parenthood without the support of ‘a village’
- Missing milestone celebrations
- Working from home and keeping the kids at home for online school
- Job changes
- Changes to travel plans
- Recognizing the stress of the twin pandemics of racism and coronavirus
Click here for COVID-19 mental health support resources
Reframing Our Thoughts Positively
Despite all these tough and unexpected changes, parents around the world have risen to the challenge. As a parent or pregnant woman, have you taken the time to recognize the strength and resilience it takes to adapt to these changes and challenges? It is worth celebrating these wins, even if it is simply reframing the language we use on ourselves, from a negative one to a positive one.
Instead of… Christmas is already such a busy time and now I have to plan even further ahead and have all my gifts sent via post since we are not celebrating together in person this year.
Try saying… I know Christmas is different this year, but I’ve managed to do hard things before, I can do this too, or come up with an alternate solution that works well for me.
Click here to read more about brain science.
5 Tips for a Low-Key Holiday Season
A survey done this year by Zulily and OnePoll revealed that 70% of moms feel the pressure to make this Christmas season extra special. While Christmas is already usually a stressful time for families (moms typically being the ones behind making it special for kids by providing the Christmas magic), this year there’s even more stress, as we end the year with less energy than usual due to it being a pandemic year.
Recognizing and taking care of your mental health is important, and if that means slowing down and doing things a little differently, that’s okay. Here are 5 tips for a low-key holiday season:
1. Reduce the amount of gifts this year
If you usually give gifts to everyone, choose to do Secret Santa this year, or write letters (or to reduce the mental energy of writing letters to everyone, do a Secret Santa but send a letter instead of a gift). If you’re really inspired, go for a ‘no-gift Christmas‘ like this mom.
2. Decide ahead of time what your top 1 (or 2, or 3) things about the season that you’re going to say ‘yes’ to…
… then go ahead and say ‘no’ to anything else that comes up, unless it’s something that you decide you have extra energy for and is worth doing to you. Otherwise… let it go, guilt-free.
3. Go casual with Christmas dinner this year:
Is there a tradition or expectation to go all out that usually takes up a lot of energy? Can you lighten the load in one of these areas? E.g. Instead of a big dinner, can you reduce the number of dishes? Or if you usually roast a turkey, how about something smaller, like a chicken instead? Or get takeout ahead of time and reheat it on for Christmas Day. Chances are there are plenty of local restaurants that would be thrilled to be supported this year. Plus it can give you a chance to have something special without worrying about cooking.
4. Video calls can be short:
If you decide to celebrate together as a family over Zoom (or some other video conferencing software), it’s okay to keep calls short. If you usually get together over Christmas dinner, the call can last the length of the meal. Set a clear start at the beginning of dinner to dessert. Play a game or two, then sign off at a clear end time.
5. Carve out time for yourself:
Take some time for yourself to rest. As special as it is to be a mom, being a parent is a full-time job that can sometimes feel like a thankless task. Carve out time to recharge your batteries by resting. Sleep in a little this holiday, or take a nap. If you have a very young child or new baby, try to follow the baby’s schedule by napping when baby naps instead of pushing yourself to do (another) chore. Read about how sleep can help prevent postpartum depression here.
You Are Stronger Than You Seem
As moms, we have lots of practice putting others’ needs first – cooking, cleaning, wiping tears and cleaning scraped knees. We want our kids to grow up strong, happy and resilient, and often we can see the good and potential in them before they see it in themselves. It’s worth remembering that we also deserve these things.
In the wise words of Winnie the Pooh, by A.A. Milne: Mama,
’There is something you must remember. You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.’
Wishing you and your family a safe, healthy, and restful Christmas season.