Let go of what's expected of you; focus on what's important...

We're at the time of year when many of us start to really feel the added pressure and stress, particularly financially. As soon as we hit October and seasonal promotions are in full swing; many people's minds go towards thoughts of budgeting, organising, ensuring everyone else is happy and generally keeping up with appearances and what is expected of us.

This in turn can really put a strain on all types of relationships within the family or household and mean that mental health is compromised.

It's particularly difficult if you are on a tight budget and are concerned you won't be able to stretch to the main gifts your children are hoping to receive. Personally, I always try my best within a limited budget, without going overboard. Every year I remind myself though, that it's usually some of the cheaper items they spend most of their time having fun with!

We might not be able to do all the usual things we would do in the lead up to the festive season this time. However, we can still try to focus on actual experiences for our nearest and dearest. We all spend far too much and produce far too much waste over the festive season usually; so this year as things are different anyway... why not make it the year of change!

Why not focus on buying local to support our market town and help it to thrive? Even better, head to independent stores or buy unique items from local Christmas markets and craft outlets. The experience of actually buying and preparing, then becomes part of the overall experience and creates a better 'energy'.

When planning the festive season, consider having less of a focus on over indulgence, mass consumerism and so on. Why not go right back to basics and plan in real, quality family time. Even if this is in small bursts of activity that the children will actually remember. I don't always feel like making the effort with activities myself but then when I do I really know its worthwhile. For example, I spent just a few minutes baking chocolate buns with the middle two today. I was pretty tired to be honest. I had to force myself as I had promised yesterday!

When reviewing the day at bedtime storytime, and asking my 4 year old if she'd had a good day, and could she remember anything she particularly enjoyed... it was those few minutes making cakes with mummy; licking the bowl and eating the end results! That really made me think even more about the value of experiences and the piles of toys that get played with just once or broken very quickly.

So this year; I'm going to try to focus even more on creating memories, experiences and giving gifts that are either useful, can be used to create further great experiences or have an ethical angle or positive energy eg locally crafted.

I will also try to let go of expectations and stress, trusting that I will have the opportunity to spend the most important moments with those that matter to me most and that will definitely include my little ones.

It can become very overwhelming if you are the one coordinating the festive period; I know from experience! Often I've just been looking forward to getting through the main day so that I can then relax on Boxing day for example.

If you're really struggling to cope with all that you have to deal with, try to confide in someone you trust or if you get to the point of not being able to cope at all, please check out the help pages on this hub or get in touch for signposting to the most appropriate support for you.

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