Friday, 3 November 2017

Staying sane in the run up to Christmas


Half term is over - the countdown has begun.  Anthony announced this week - it's seven weeks till Christmas.  And like every year, I'm not ready.  But I've got some ideas to help me.

There's always lots to do and honestly every year it just happens - which is great but a bit daunting. As with many families who have autistic kids there's a lot of planning and preparation that goes into Christmas.  It's all too easy for our boys to become overwhelmed with everything that's going on. I try to be fairly relaxed about it and go with whatever they need but it's always going to be a busy time.

There's all the present buying, the wrapping, secret stashing, the shopping and cooking for Christmas dinner whilst making sure we have something David will eat too.  And the list goes on.  This year I've a few tricks up my sleeve and I'm sharing one with you in a giveaway.


1. Video from Santa
What's that got to do with making my life easier?  Ahh, well, the good people at PNP, that's the Portable North Pole, send my kids their own video from Father Christmas which includes a task for them. That's right, Santa himself tells my kids to be good and help their siblings and even help me during the run-up till Christmas.

What better way to make my life easier than focusing my kids on being good.  David's still pre verbal and won't really understand a video call from Santa, but the other two definitely do.  Two out of three kids helping or trying to be extra good ain't bad and if they aren't annoying David too then this can make the world of difference to me.



2. Slipper shoes
Over the next six weeks and particularly in the last run up to the big day, I'll be in and out of the house like next doors cat with delivery boxes and shopping.  I'll fill goodness knows how many bin bags preparing dinner and snacks and put what must be tonnes of packing into recycling boxes.

Half of this will need to be done after the kids have gone to bed.  I'll be in and out of the loft looking for decorations various and that tree ornament that 'we always have.'  Then there's the trudging back into the loft or garage to hide various gifts.

The key to the above - a fantastic pair of bootie slipper shoes like these from Hunkemoller.  A sole along the bottom means you nip outside to the bin as often as you need and not get them wet underneath.  They keep you warm and safe in the loft and cosy when finally sitting down to wrap those gifts.

Family at a dining table

3.  Keep everyone comfortable
If our boys are to have a good day we try and help them stay relaxed. Part of them being comfortable is preparing them for the day.  Letting them know what's going to happen by talking about what's going on in the run-up to Christmas. Sometimes in the past we've used visuals, particularly with David as he's non-verbal.  But the boys have great memories and they've now got a general understanding of what's happening.

We keep Christmas limited to just a few rooms in the house.  The lounge has the tree, a cue for them that Christmas is coming, and the kitchen is where we have our Christmas dinner.  Comfortable dining chairs keep everyone happy and cope with both the fidgeting boys and our more elder relatives too.

The dining table is extended, giving us all the space we need, even if we have having turkey and David is having chicken nuggets.  Most of the house is undecorated so that the boys always have somewhere 'normal' to go and chill out.  David quite likes to sit on the stairs to get away from it all when he needs to.   If they are all less stressed, then so am I.



4.  My ultimate tip - Alexa
We've got an Echo Dot in the kitchen.  When we first got it I didn't think I'd use it much.  I was wrong. The Echo Dot is voice-controlled disc that uses Amazon's Alexa to play music, control smart home devices, provide information, read the news, set alarms etc. Here's a couple of festive phrases I've been practising.
  • Alexa set first timer for 3 1/2 hours (for the turkey on Christmas day), then I'll set several other timers for everything else in line. I honestly don't know how anything got cooked for the right length of time before I had Alexa.
  • Alexa order... well who knows.. because I'll need to order a last minute gift from Amazon without a doubt
  • Alexa, play Michael Buble (for me to do a dance).  Alexa, play Can't Stop the Feeling from Trolls (for me and the kids to dance together).
  • Alexa, how cold is it today (run and change the heating for the day and then because Anthony wants to know..) Alexa, how cold is it in Russia?
  • Alexa, where is Father Christmas?
And that's just a starter.  I've also found if the kids have lots of questions and I'm swamped, they can talk directly to Alexa for a while. I know, terrible mother.  But please don't let that put you off.   Alexa is brilliant for my autistic kids.

Anthony in particular loves lists and Alexa is a great help when it comes to interesting facts and figures for him as all I end up doing is googling the answers anyway.   She is a databank of information and will answer him over and over again no matter how often he asks.  And keeping Anthony calm helps keep me calm.  I love having Alexa around to help so much, I'm giving one away.

WIN YOUR OWN ALEXA ECHO DOT FOR CHRISTMAS

If you'd like to win your own Alexa on an Echo Dot - please take part in my giveaway.  
It's not sponsored, I just love having an Alexa so much I'm willing to share 
her with you - just in time for Christmas.  Enter below.

Conditions: UK  Residents only. Entrants must be aged over 18.  Entry is via Rafflecopter.  Entries can be made up until midnight on the1st December 2017.  One winner will be chosen from all the entries at random the day after closing.  The winner will be contacted within two days of the closing date and have one week to respond.  The Prize is one Echo Dot as pictured in top photo.  No cash alternative. 


I was sent a pair of Hunkemoller slippers for purposes of review.  
As always my views and comments and independent and I only include products or services I like. 

You Baby Me Mummy

172 comments:

  1. Taking a relaxing bath - I don't allow myself to do that these days - I just jump in, get washed and jump out again! I should really allow myself to lie back and relax in the bath!

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  2. Make plans for the Christmas period. Especially plan and know what you are doing on Christmas eve, Christmas day, Boxing day and New Year’s Eve.

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  3. Walking - since losing our dog a few weeks ago, I have lost interest in walking - BUT we are getting a new pup next month so I know she will motivate me to start walking again!

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  4. Simple, do plenty of preparation.

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  5. Plan, get help then relax and enjoy the season.

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  6. To remember it will never be perfect but to relax and enjoy it!

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  7. It's only two days you can & will get through this

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  8. This is an amazing giveaway! Christmas is always more idealistic than in reality and thats from before and after kids hahah! I'm such a sucker for gifts but once its over I get a massive crash and then I'm sad for ages!!
    Thank you for sharing this amazing giveaway with us at #TriumphantTales. Good luck to all the entrants and I hope to see you back next week!

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  9. I always do my christmas shopping in November sale and enjoy december with kids, we do loads of crafts, baking and daily walks in december. x

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  10. Make sure you and your family enjoy yourselves

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  11. Get through christmas with.. restraint!

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  12. Exercising - my son is autistic and really enjoys activities, he takes part in skiing and enjoys multisport too

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  13. My son is probably a little too young to understand the concept of Christmas and I think going to see Santa would scare him to death, so the idea of a video from Father Christmas is a much better idea! Genius!

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  14. Just try to relax and enjoy yourself! Eat healthy and go for a nice long walk :)

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  15. Try not to be bothered by little things and put some smoothing music on x

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  16. Try not to get too stressed out and enjoy every moment ��

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  17. Be Prepared,Write a list get dried goods & orders in early.When you know everything is under control. Chocolates,Drink 🍸,TV & feet up.

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  18. Prepare early so you can worry less when everyone else is running around like headless chickens!

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  19. A relaxing bath if I could possibly find time, without the worry of falling asleep in it

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  20. Give everyone vouchers and regularly top up your glass 🤣Xx

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  21. Be organised in advance

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  22. I'm always a last minute shopper, wrapper and always end up really stressed, a few years ago I did the park vouchers which was a great help, I will be saving with them again next year xxx

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  23. Get the family to help and get presents early to avoid the crowds.

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  24. buy gifts throughout the year and prepare as much in advance as possible

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  25. Planning don't leave it all to the last minute
    Ask for help ie if family are coming -ask them to bake cook etc
    There's no shame in sharing the load

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  26. Plan in advance and get gifts when on offer x

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  27. Plan ahead and space out christmas shopping over a few pay days

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  28. Prepare as much as you can beforehand whilst reminding yourself that you can only do what you can do

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  29. Some of the general stress is just about getting everything done. If you do want the whole traditional Christmas thing - in terms of organising food, house, presents, cooking etc. The main thing is being organised. So write a few lists - they make things easier. Also do what you can in advance. Sort the presents side in early December. Same with any decorations and the tree. Don't worry unduly about having the place spotless - it'll all be trashed the minute a few presents are unwrapped anyway. Get the food in two days before Christmas and do as much chopping, stuffing, and cooking as you can on Christmas Eve. That way even if you are running the show on the big day there is still a chance you'll actually get to relax and enjoy bits of it too and it won't be all work.

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  30. Planning is key, accept help & delegate. I always take christmas eve off work to organise everything

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  31. Many long and luxuriating baths. Failing that lots of alcohol tends to get me through. Not at the same time though. Well, maybe a glass of wine whilst immersed in bubbles!

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  32. Making sure there are some relaxing days in between during the Christmas break!

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  33. It sounds like I need an Echo Dot to keep me organized! And if it can read off recipes so I don't get food or smudges on my recipes all the better. I like to plan ahead as much as possible, but hey life happens!

    Tracy @ Ascending Butterfly

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  34. Hide in the shed at the bottom of the garden with a box of mince pies until it's all over.

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  35. take a step at a time and enjoy what you do, don't get involved with the bi panicks

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  36. Thank you for a great giveaway, I have a daughter with mental health issues, and for us, not expecting anything, no preconceptions, and just taking each day as it comes is the best tip I can give. Enjoy the smallest of things xxx

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  37. Start the shopping early and jut go with the flow on the day

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  38. Don't invite or accept invitations from anyone you don't like!!!

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  39. I love the slipper socks, I wish I had a pair for everyday lol.
    #TriumphantTales

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  40. Plan and organise as much as you can as far in advance as you can.

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  41. Don't forget to have fun, that's what its all about!

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  42. To just enjoy it and share the workload

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  43. Try to organise as early as possible

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  44. Try and prepare as much stuff as possible beforehand especially Xmas dinner stuff and try to take 2mins to breathe.

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  45. I always try and prepare as much as I can for christmas lunch in the days before - so that I can enjoy the day too without having to spend all day cooking.

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  46. Just go with the flow, relax and enjoy the joy on your kddies faces :)

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  47. Go with the flow! It doesn't have to be perfect to be wonderful - it's all about being together after all

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  48. Enjoy and do as much as you can in advance!

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  49. enjoy it - it shouldnt be a task to get through christmas! if it has to be something to have to get through, something is wrong -so what if you burn the turkey or even forget to get it out of the freezer, have a sandwich!!! if relatives dont behave tell them to go home and have a big glass of wine and play with the kids its one day, have fun !

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  50. Buy Christmas presents throughout the year and don't go mad on too much food as so much ends up in the bin. Write a shopping list and stick to it.

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  51. Don't build it up to totally unreasonable expectations!

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  52. Plan everything, but also be prepared to go with it and not stress if things don't go to plan!

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  53. plan ahead, and guess what im all done wrapped and ready for Santa coming xx

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  54. Be prepared and shop in advance!

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  55. dont stress. it one day. why spends months getting stressed over a day?

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  56. Always plan ahead and wrap gifts as soon as you get them - to save time when things get a bit 'hairy'.

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  57. Make sure you don't invite strangers or anyone who makes your child feel uncomfortable x

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  58. I think preparation, list making and budgeting are the key to a stress free Christmas.

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  59. Deep breaths and go for it , right a list and get family to help

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  60. Start early... I buy present throughout the year (spreads the cost but within the interest charges) and don't go overboard... It's only one day - do you really need THAT MUCH food?

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  61. Do a spreadsheet of all of the gifts you want to buy. Then mark them off as you go along. Oh, and have fun!!

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  62. Keep your glass full and prepare veg for dinner Xmas eve x

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  63. Lower those expectations and be realistic !!

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  64. Try to stick to routine and discuss changes to the 'normal schedule' earlier on in the year in preparation. There is a lot of pressure these days to do so much at Christmas but I find it's nice to just do a few things and try not to have the Fear of Missing Out!

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  65. I'm not the best person for giving tips - I've learnt the hard way. Start shopping early even if it's just a couple and NEVER leave your wrapping till Christmas eve, did that year before last. Took me hours, youngest woke up crying at midnight before I'd finished and was awake till 1am,finished wrapping at 2.30am,went up to bed and my oldest woke up and was looking in his sticking! It was a nightmare and Christmas day was just a blur because I was sooo tired.

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  66. Not for me but I thought that was an interesting comment about Alexa and the lists being great for kids with autism. #KALCOLS

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  67. buy stuff early and dont wait until christmas eve

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  68. I am very tempted to get one of these. My son repeats the same questions over and over - he would love an Alexa to say the same things over and over again! #KCACOLS

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  69. Don't take on too much and be organised.

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  70. Plan ahead and don't leave it to the last minute :)

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  71. Thanks for joining us at #luckylinky xx

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  72. Don't answer the front door! Lock yourself in!

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  73. Don't take it all on yourself. We do pretty much everything from decorating the tree & house to cooking the dinner as a family.

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  74. Have loads of chocolate stashed just for yourself

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  75. prepare as much in advance and don't leave the wrapping to the last minute

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  76. Preparation - lots of lists! Plan to leave time for yourself to relax and enjoy the festivities x

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  77. Christmas is for the Children in all families, who cares' about stress at this time of year

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  78. Start shopping early to spread the cost

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  79. Make sure you prepared in advance then sit back and enjoy

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  80. just be prepared and dont stress its just another day!

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  81. Plan as much as you can but be prepared to improvise when the plan goes wrong

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  82. Deep breaths, count to ten and if all else fails there's always the wine

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  83. Start early and don't stress too much, my son has asd and has been agitated for a few weeks , he wanted to put up the tree so we put some decoration up this weekend, he is much calmer. If the shops didn't have everything out so early he wouldn't be so aware of it ..sigh

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  84. Relax. Make sure essentials like food etc are organised, then just enjoy the time with your family.

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  85. For me it has to be be prepared and don't leave your shopping until the last minute.

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  86. For us its all about routine, stick to the given plan and we all get through it unscathed

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  87. Prepare everything the night before

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  88. plenty of preparation! @leabana1 Leanne W

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  89. Relax. Try not to be unrealistic, or be a perfectionist. Enjoy yourself xx

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  90. Take a moment or two to soak it in and relax. Preparation will help! Also, beer. Beer makes everything better.

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  91. Great giveaway and the post has reminded me that I need to get a bigger table for christmas....somehow!:)
    Mainy
    #KCACOLS

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  92. I'm totally not in the Christmas zone yet! The Echo Dot sounds brilliant - I've been toying with the idea of getting one for ages so I think its going on my list!

    Thank you for linking up to #KCACOLS

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  93. Everything will happen it it's time. Just keep plodding on and try to involve the whole family.

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  94. My top tip for coping with Christmas is to shop year round for presents#blogginggoodtime@_,karendennis

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  95. don't stress, shop online to avoid crowds

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  96. my kids the the PNP isn't it just fantastic! Thank you for sharing this with #ablogginggoodtime

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  97. My tip is to make sure you just enjoy Christmas and not stress about it being perfect. Our Christmas tends to last until nearly New Year especially now we have my Grandson here. It takes the stress off of trying to get everything organised for the 1 day, so we open a couple of presents every day, but of course all the stocking presents are opened on Christmas Day. ��

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  98. Get yourself a notebook to keep all your Christmassy info together!
    Kelly L @kELLYCLOGGS

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  99. be organised and dont do anything last minute

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  100. get a lot of preparation lists and to do tasks in line

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  101. Just let it happen. If things go wring no point worrying about them.

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  102. Plan as much as you can but remember to try to relax and enjoy it

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  103. Don't feel like you have to be doing something everyday over the festive period- take a day or two to just relax watching Xmas films

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  104. Organise everything you can in advance.

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  105. calmness helping with the decorations and as involved as much as possible

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  106. Shop early,make a plan,stick to it and then just relax.Remember it is just 2 days and so what if it's not perfect who cares as long as you have fun and enjoy yourself.

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  107. Don't make too many social plans. Not everybody needs to be seen over the Christmas season!

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  108. Do as much as you can in advance, and make lots of lists

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  109. Get the kids involved in christmas crafts and use the internet to find bargains and to save you visiting busy shopping areas which can be stressful

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  110. get prepared well in advance so you arent rushing last minute - i generally get all ym prsents bought and wrapped by the end of October (except the chocolates) and I add extra items to the fd shop from Oct onwards as well so by beginning of dec all I need t buy is the fresh stuff

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  111. Plan and organise as much as possible in advance, and try to stick to routines.

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  112. Be organised and prepared for anything

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  113. Prepare a budget and a meal plan and stick to both. Have several large bottles of Merlot on hand just in case.

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  114. Don't sweat the small stuff and that most of the things you worry and get upset about is small stuff. Enjoy the time with your family.

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  115. go to the shops early so you dont have to worry, then you can just relax and do as much as you wish

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  116. My tip is to take toys out of the packaging and assemble where necessary. It helps us massively especially as Jake gets so overwhelmed

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  117. Preparation is the answer. Don't leave everything to last minute!

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  118. A soak in a lavender bubble bath

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  119. Get stuff done early, try not to stress

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  120. Be prepared , but relax and enjoy that special time with your family! xo

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  121. Go with the flow! So many years I have tried to plan everything to be perfect, but we found the most fun times were those completely unplanned! xxx Carrie Talbot-Ashby

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  122. Try and stick to the usual routine!

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  123. Plan & make plans known, it might not go actually how you want but at least it puts life in order a little bit.

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  124. just enjoy it, its only once a year :)

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  125. Be organised and then try to enjoy it!

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  126. Organise as much as possible the night before

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  127. plan things, so my grandson knows what is happening

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  128. Music and reading. This certainly is a good idea.

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  129. Take time out for you, so that you feel energised and ready for anything (Ruth Wollerton)

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  130. Some great tips but I liked the exercise one or the walking

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  131. Prepare, breathe, prepare again then breathe lol

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  132. I don't really have any good tips, except, maybe, don't drink too much.

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  133. Try not to get to stressed if you see a bargain grap it and enjoy yourself remember Christmas is for laughter and love x

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  134. Hide...just kidding however I would say to shop around. It can be easy to get carried away trying to grab everything in one store however by shopping around you could save a lot of money saving you stress after the big day has been and gone. There are so many comparison sites you can use and always look for online vouchers. I do the majority of the shopping online. One more thing, teach little ones what christmas is all about. If you don't have the money to afford everything on their list the time they spend with you is what they will cherish and remember. I learned the hard way spoiling mine rotten getting all the latest toys to have the majority either destroyed by New Year or gathering dust at the bottom of the toy box. We spend the day with family and the girls gifts back home are forgotten until they return. If you can keep a few things back so that everything isn't opened and mixed up. Chances are they won't even notice and every toy will get played with rather than broken in a crazed rush to play with everything they open.

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  135. get everyone to help even doing the simplest of things. rubbish in the bin, lay the table. And if it's all too much, don't plan to do a huge dinner in the first place. Remember it's your Christmas too.

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  136. Just try and relax and don't get overwhelmed. If things feel 'too much' for you then go for a walk to clear your head.

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  137. dont make it a chore, use a notepad to note don who you need to buy for, lists to do such as writing cards, what food you want to buy and take a friend christmas shopping with you to make it fun, and spread it out dont try to do it all at once

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  138. Don't make it all about the presents. We don't. We enjoy the fun, the playing with the children, the time of work and actually the material stuff doesn't matter to us as parents!

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  139. Just chill and take it all in your stride... if all else fails, have a baileys coffee fairly early on in the day haha x

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  140. Don't treat it as something you have to go crazy over. It's just another day, just a Sunday roast and a few gifts for family. Don't add to much pressure to yourself

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  141. Its to be enjoyed by all so a little delegation comes into play too.
    The Alexa sounds ideal for timings and reminders.

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  142. Get everyone to help and make it into a game where possible!

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  143. Take each day as it comes and if it doesnt go to plan its not the end of the world.

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  144. Trying to be as organised as possible x x x

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  145. just do what you can do and try to gowith the flow

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  146. Don't get stressed, try to plan ahead as much as possible. The main thing is that you and your family enjoy themselves who cares if a bit of cleaning isn't done...just enjoy the festive season!

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  147. I start Christmas shopping early and wrap as I go along. Have fun and relax too

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  148. I suggest plenty of patience and lots of booze.

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  149. Par-boil the vegetables and potatoes in advance and freeze to save time.

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  150. Lets someone else cook, I buy the prezzys all year round, its my time to put my feet up with a beer

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  151. Don't sweat the small stuff, if it doesn't get done - chances are, most people probably don't notice anyway x

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I read all your comments and appreciate you sharing your thoughts with me and our readers. I welcome any feedback on my posts and you can always contact me directly. Thank you.

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