managing the christmas overwhelm
This year December is looking frightfully busy: drama rehearsals and performances, ballet recitals and concerts (three!), end-of-year assemblies, a big editorial deadline and the general malarky of the festive month that injects a good dose of excitement and hyperactivity into already exhausted children.
As every year goes by I’m becoming more conscious of just how overwhelming the festive season can be. And while I embrace the wonder and magic of Christmas I’m very aware of keeping it simple and relaxed – for everyone’s sake. So, I’m looking forward from now and doing my best to get organised before December hits.
Much like the work of motherhood, Christmas celebrations come to fruition after much forethought and preparation. Yes, it’s the season for giving and gratitude but behind the festivities and feasting is a whole gamut of practical work – planning, budgeting, shopping and cooking.
planning : put pen to paper (or finger to app) and work out exactly who needs to be where throughout the month. I’ve found this method vital since Che started school and extra-curricular activities, especially so since Percy arrived. There’s only a few days in December that are free of activity for us so I’m well aware of the importance of organisation, calm and coffee (and keeping those days entirely free – no excuses!).
budgeting : there’s no denying it, December is an expensive month and it’s very easy to get carried away with presents and food in the flurry of activity. Convenience is always the most expensive option and I don’t think I’m alone in admitting that I turn to take-away much more regularly in the lead-up to Christmas. This year I have worked out exactly how much needs to be spent on the extras: a tree (always a real one), Christmas meats, seafood and festive miscellany as well as the run of the mill rent, bills, groceries and petrol. I’ve allocated a certain amount for presents and I started purchasing them a few weeks ago – a little bit here and there so there’s no significant expense come December. Post spring-clean I also have a collection of items we have outgrown or no longer need; they’re going on gumtree so I have a bit of extra spending money over the next few weeks.
shopping : buying in advance is the only way I can ensure that I buy sensibly and don’t succumb to unnecessary purchases. In an attempt to compile a comprehensive and practical children’s gift guide (it’s coming in the first week of November!) I’ve been thinking a lot about the toys that really do get played with the most. I’ve also been thinking about where toys, puzzles, games and books live – do we have space for them? Will they fit in the designated cupboard? Will they be played with by all three children? Do we have a good balance of indoor and outdoor activities? Last year’s guide to Timeless Toys is a good source of inspiration if you’re after it.
cooking : and eating. I don’t have to do a lot of cooking for Christmas Day but you can rest assured that my staple Jewelled Rice will be made (it’s an especially good accompaniment to turkey) and this prawn, mango and avocado salad will be devoured, no doubt. And regardless of my good intentions from years past I am absolutely going to find the time to make this peppermint bark.