Sunday, December 5, 2010

The chaos of Christmas

If the silly season is stressing you out, it’s time to get organised

With only four weeks to go, Christmas can bring out both the best and the worst in parents.
The worst comes with the stress of spending too much, eating too much and regretting it come New Year’s Eve.
The best comes with the spirit of giving, the smiles on children’s faces on Christmas morning and the coming together of families.
But I also find that Christmas can put a lot of extra pressure on parents, particularly mothers.
For most of the year I’ve appeared to be an organised and resourceful mother, but come December it’s clear that my household is organised chaos!
I’m having panic attacks that I’ll have forgotten to buy a gift for someone, or that I’ll blow our budget, or that I have not been blessed with my mother’s (and grandmother’s) cooking talents.
The latter is certainly true so I would love to get a gift of cooking classes, but the point is that it can all seem a bit overwhelming.
There are mothers out there who are amazing organisers and can stick to their routines, rosters, plans and checklists with ease.
They are the type who have weekly menu planners, scheduled times for work and play, rosters for the household chores and a diary full of playgroup rosters, school events, and so on. 
Being THAT organised is a really foreign concept in my house, where we tend to go with the flow.
It’s no big deal if 5pm comes around and I haven’t organised anything for dinner – we just call it my night off and make toasted sandwiches instead.
But while I am comfortable in my organised chaos, there are certainly times when I wish I could be more organised.
So, with Christmas just around the corner, I’ve found some handy tips to help disorganised mothers like me survive Christmas.
1. Delegate: When there are a multitude of things to do, don’t be afraid of a helping hand. 
2. Plan your Christmas party and prepare as much as possible in advance. 
3. Wrap presents as you buy them, and label them too, that way you’re not spending Christmas Eve wrapping gifts all night long. Or take advantage of the gift wrapping services at shopping centres.
4. When out Christmas shopping, write a list and stick to it to ensure you don’t go over budget. Buy a few extra gifts such as boxes of chocolates, just in case your forget someone or you have an unexpected guest. 
5. Consider buying presents throughout the year or layby big items, in order to spread out the cost. Mid-year toy sales are a big saver.
6. Shop online, look for a bargain and avoid the shopping centre chaos.
7. If you have a large family, consider a Secret Santa gift. Decide on the exact amount of money to be spent for each person. Buying for one relative instead of for 10 relatives, will lesson the stress, and you can spend more time putting together a gift they will actually want and enjoy.
8. If you’re hosting a big dinner, consider using paper plates and cups, and alfoil trays, so that you don’t have to spend half the day at the kitchen sink.
9. Consider giving your Christmas recipes a test run before the big day.
10. Do something for someone who won’t be having a special Christmas – place a gift under a wishing tree, or invite a neighbour over for dinner.
11. Buy instead of baking – who really wants to spend hours in front of a hot stove?
12. Get your cards written and ready to send in November, and don’t forget sending overseas mail well in advance.
13. Cut back on the decorations. No one is really looking at the overpriced tinsel and glass ornaments, they are really watching the cricket. Try handmade crafts with your children, and let them decorate for you.
14. Try finger food instead of a feast – a smorgasbord of tidbits is easier on the cook than a sit-down dinner. Or ask every guest to bring a plate of food to share.
15. Get plenty of sleep, and try to be moderate with your food and alcohol intake.
16. And last of all, don’t forget to buy the right batteries for any toys that require them.
In keeping with today’s topic of getting organised, it was a pleasure to receive in the post recently the Ideas Book by Bronnie Masefau. This lovely little red book aims to inspire women into transforming their house into a home.
There are tips on all areas of the home from kitchens, bathrooms, children’s spaces, work spaces and more, as well as lots of scribble pages for you to jot down your thoughts and ideas. Wondering how to make more creative storage spaces in your home? Want to make your lounge room more comfortable? Wishing you could keep your kids occupied and out of your hair while you cook dinner? The Ideas Book can help you improve your home and organise your life.
At the back is a handy pocket for gathering bits and bobs, and a address book section to note down your favourite stores, websites and bloggers. It’s the perfect size for the handbag and comes with a ribbon place mark and elastic band to hold the book together.
While this book is perfect for budding designers or anyone buying their first home, it can also be a good way to keep track of your short and long term goals. The nice thing about the ideas book is that there is no set theme, so although you’re inspired by Bronnie’s ideas, you can also work on your own with lots of space to jot down notes or stick in magazine tear sheets or fabric swatches. 
We all lead busy lives and have so much information floating around our heads, so it can be difficult to remember it all. The Ideas Book takes the pressure off and does the remembering for us.
* The Ideas Book is available from for $24.95.


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