As we head towards Christmas we are bombarded with image of how Christmas “should” look – whether it’s large raucous families around a festive table piled high with food and drink or indulgent gift guides in magazines where they suggest “little prezzies” that probably require a 2nd mortgage to purchase, often these images are so far away from our reality it’s easy to lose perspective.

As women, we often feel the pressure to make Christmas this magical, wonderful experience for everyone in the family and often not just our own immediate family. Not only do we feel time poor and are racing around juggling numerous tasks just to get the day vaguely organised but we also feel there are so many things we “should” be doing!

Any Life Coach will tell you that the word “should” is something we are constantly working on with clients and I have found it’s cropped up in numerous sessions recently. “I should be making home-made Christmas cards” “the children should be making presents for their grandparents” “I should be creating and making the wreath for the front door” “I should be organising drinks for friends at our house this Christmas.”

Why should you?

More to the point, do you really need to?

Managing our own expectations is what we all need to be doing at Christmas instead of putting additional pressure on ourselves to provide the perfect Christmas for one and all. If we actually think about what is important for our families, ourselves, those around us that could do with some additional help and support, you will probably find that everyone else’s expectations are far simpler than your own.

Some practical tips for managing that thought process.

  1. Sit down with a cuppa or a glass of wine and ask yourself “what is the most important part of Christmas for me/us?” Maybe it’s getting together and being able to have a meal together? Maybe it’s visiting friends? Maybe it’s having some time to rest and recharge the batteries? Whatever it is, be very clear about what is important and how you could possibly achieve it.
  2. Don’t add to your anxiety by comparing yourself to people/friends/family on social media, no good ever comes from that and you KNOW it’s never the reality, it’s what people want others to see. Don’t buy into it.
  3. Ask those you are spending time with what is important to them? You might be surprised how little they actually want or expect and that what they really want is easy to achieve.
  4. It’s a roast dinner – as much as it’s a more luxurious roast, it’s still a roast dinner and the most important part of it is actually sitting down with those we love and sharing the experience. If you choose to do the dinner differently, that is okay too, there is no rule written to say it has to look like something from a John Lewis advert!
  5. Finally, you can only do what you can do – time is precious, so are you and nothing is ever perfect so don’t use all your energy trying to make it so, you being burnt out at Christmas is no fun for anyone, least of all you!

I think for me the leveller is remembering the “Covid Christmas” when we could do so little, we all promised ourselves that we would never fall into that trap again of creating a “Christmas monster” and saw the benefits of keeping it simple. There is a lot to be said for that, for being grateful for what we have and being a little kinder to ourselves along the way.