07843 055587 clare@clarecogan.com

It’s that time of year again, it may only be the beginning of December but already I have heard the Christmas Carols in the shops, eaten my first box of Matchmakers and a Chocolate Orange (why I buy these in advance is beyond me) and have had Christmas lists versions 1, 2 and 3 pressed under my nose.

I am not a lastminute.com kinda girl, I don’t like crowds. I also don’t like panic buying toiletry sets from M and S which sit in someones cupboard for the rest of the year and eventually get regifted or donated to the local raffle or tombola. I tend to approach Christmas in advance and consider things before overwhelm and sweeping the shelves like a frenzied person sets in.

I am also not one for traditional Christmas ‘expectations’ where so and so always goes round to so and so’s house and ‘that is the way it is’. I am a bit of a rebel when it comes to Christmas and despite the occasional resistance and disapproval I receive from my family, we often try and do something different every year so that there is no ‘expectation’ on that one day which everyone becomes fixated on.

My reasons are simple. I like and enjoy spending time with my family, but have never felt that ‘Christmas Day’ HAS to be spent with the same people, without exception.

As my boys have grown and got older, they have become easier to transport along with their presents as it is no longer all about ‘plastic fantastic’ and huge boxes to cart around. ¬†However, we have actually become more discerning in our Christmas arrangements rather than flying round the country making sure we see everyone and then ending up feeling knackered at the end of it and like we haven’t had a break.

I might be sounding really bah humbug to some of you who love Christmas in the same way every year with all the trimmings, but I am appealing to those of you who feel pressured to ‘conform’ to other family members expectations and find it takes the ‘fun’ out of enjoying Christmas with your family.

Christmas can be a stressful time for us mums, and what makes it more stressful is feeling like we can’t make the decisions we truly want to make because we might upset someone, offend someone, or leave someone out. So this year we are going away for a whole week over Christmas to holiday with my husbands family. I love them as there is never any pressure to get together at the same time every year, we make a casual arrangement and it just works, without anyone feeling obligated.

I am excited for my boys as they will get to spend some time with their cousins who are a similar age and their younger cousins who my youngest son adores and is so good with. No-one feels forced, like they are being asked to do something which they don’t want to do, this holiday has been 2 years in the planning and we have all looked forward to it as something ‘different’.

When chatting with my clients, I often find that they feel they can’t say what they really want to do at this time of year, and that often they end up making sure that all family members get ‘sight’ of their children over Christmas so that no-one is disappointed. This is at the one time of the year when we could be relaxing, recharging and eating copious amounts of chocolate whilst watching Christmas films.

So, what are the things to consider when planning YOUR kind of Christmas?

Ask yourself what you really want to do and who you really want to spend it with. Which environment helps you to feel most relaxed so you are not always the one rushing around topping up your aunts sherry glass, when do you get some down time?

Make a decision which is right for you and your immediate family and STICK TO IT. Don’t let yourself be emotionally blackmailed into changing your mind to appease another family member, not matter how thick they lay it on. If you know deep down you won’t be happy doing what they are suggesting then DON’T DO IT.

Know that if you have made the decision where you feel most relaxed and happy, then this will filter down to your children too. I have vivid memories when I was a child of spending Christmas at my Aunt and Uncles with my cousin, which I loved. However, I was very aware that my dad hated it, packing the car, not being in his own home and just not having his own ‘space’ so it took the shine off as I was very aware that I wanted everyone to be happy.

My point is, if you are happy and relaxed and so will your children be, wherever you are and whatever decisions you make, as long as they are your decisions, made in consultation with your partner/husband and or children if that works for you.  My intention today has been to help you recognise what is your expectation and what is others and how you can create that calm, relaxed Christmas which you really want to have.

Now, for me it’s back to the family argument we are currently having over whether or not to name the turkey which my sister-in-law hates the idea of – it’s currently called Bryan……..

Love Clare x