111 Days till Christmas - Survival guide
As I sit and write this, I am enjoying the early days of what is promising to be a glorious spring. I do not enjoy winter, so when September rolls around I am eager to pack away the jackets and jerseys and dust off the sun lounger in anticipation of summer.
111 days to Christmas!! (Wait what?! Wasn’t it just Easter?)
While many overseas writers are preparing parents and kids for back to school, in SA we are entering the last quarter of the year. The countdown to school closing, our annual leave and Christmas holidays for us has begun.
For many this is the start of a highly stressful time of the year. Add to that economic uncertainty, soaring prices and the recent riots, kidnappings, rapes and murders, the average South African is taking strain.
You are not alone
I hear from people regularly who are stressed, irritated, impatient and on-edge. I can see it all around me; in the traffic, on social media and in the queue at the shops. Often without meaning to, this tension overflows onto our loved ones, with our kids as particularly easy targets.
Here are 5 things you can do to get through the next couple of months, with your sanity intact:
1. Watch your thinking
Be aware of negative self-talk and pessimistic thinking patterns. If left unchecked, these can often fuel stress and over-reaction.
2. Keep things in perspective
Watch for overreactions. Try rating the actual cause of your stress, on a scale of 1 – 10 and compare it with your reaction, also rated on a scale of 1 – 10. Often our reaction is disproportionate to the seriousness of the situation.
3. Maintain the status quo
Lately it seems that in October, along with the appearance of Christmas decorations in the shops, the end of year prize-giving’s, parties, concerts, graduations and other functions start. This usually means routine goes out the window and meals on the run become more common as well as late nights.
It is important that you control what you can and work at maintaining the status quo. Keep a firm hold on boundaries and rules and resist the urge to allow a slip in behaviour because everyone is tired and overwhelmed. During busy and stressful times, kids enjoy some predictability and feeling that there is a sense of order. So stick to your guns, you will all be better off in the end.
4. Self care
I think by now we are all aware that the “Super Mom/Dad” is a myth. We cannot do it all and that’s okay. If you haven’t done so already, drop the guilt and join the rest of us as we accept ourselves as only human.
The average South African parent is juggling a lot; work pressure, maintaining a healthy relationship with your partner, everything KIDS, supporting family (maybe an aging parent), exercise, healthy eating and the list goes on.
As parents, something we are not very good at is self-care. I encourage you to make time for yourself EVERYDAY. Commit to do ONE thing just for you.
5. Make time for fun
I’m all about living a balanced life. However, when life gets busy and our schedules are overwhelmed, we tend to discard the balance and just focus on getting through the day, the week, the month or the rest of the year. It is during these times that taking time for fun, to bond as a family is the most important. Take the initiative and plan some fun activities into your families’ schedule. Then guard this time like the precious gem that it is.
Over the next few weeks, I will talk in more detail about these 5 steps. Look out for my next post which will cover patterns of thinking and keeping things in perspective. Thanks for reading.
On a more serious note ...
I am a counsellor based on the East Rand of Johannesburg. Life can be hard sometimes but I encourage you to contact me should you feel that you are not coping. I offer individual, couples and family counselling as well as parent coaching. There is no shame in reaching out for help; in fact, to me there is no stronger person than one who is willing to accept help.