Christmas celebrations are well underway! And I’ve fully embraced the annual onset of my anything-goes “of course you can eat a whole chocolate orange for breakfast, it is practically fruit” yuletide attitude.
For me, Christmas is a festive free-pass to consume everything – whilst doing nothing. And I have been looking forward to for months!
But now I am fully immersed in this naughty but nice behaviour, the reality is that – after just two days – I feel dreadful. Flabby and sluggish. Both mentally and physically. Not exactly the genuinely hygge holiday I was anticipating.
So, I have a choice. I can either give my behaviour a do-over for the rest of holidays – or ignore the warning signs and power through by eating the last of the mince pies. With an extra glass of sherry. And a portion of the good cheese. Tricky decision!
I believe that being the week before New Year – with all its hopeful resolutions – compounds the issue. We make ourselves believe that a final blow out in the current year doesn’t really matter – or even count. We believe we can just repair the damage in January.
Well, this year, that attitude isn’t working for me. I need to shift my priorities. As I prepare to return to work from maternity leave in January, I need to be on top form. Besides – I want to feel able to enjoy these last days of maternity leave with my family, without feeling dehydrated, bloated or grumpy!
So, it is time to stage a Christmas Cheer intervention. Against myself.
My Top 10 ‘Naughty but Nice’ Christmas Habits
- Too much Sugar: I am not disciplined enough to live ‘sugar free’, but, having had Gestational Diabetes this year my attitude to sugar consumption has changed permanently. After giving birth in February, I had to lose over five stone / 35 kilos to return to my pre-pregnancy weight. I managed this in six months by embracing a high protein, low sugar diet. During that period I was still pre-diabetic – but got confirmation last month that I am Diabetes free! Of course, Christmas CareerMom seems to think the best way to celebrate the news is by eating all of the chocolate. Why? Because it is Christmas!
- Overeating: And it isn’t just the sugar: I overeat at ever meal – and in-between! There is so much food available at Christmas and I hate waste. I’ll polish off the last of that quiche rather than leaving it for tomorrow – because I know there is a whole other meal plan already planned for tomorrow! Consequently, I already look and feel about five months pregnant, complete with nausea and chronic indigestion. It is 7am and I am craving plain avocado with a drizzle of olive oil (my favourite recovery food). Yet, as I sit typing, I am eyeing up the box of chocolates next to me. It’s the Holidays – treat yourself!
- Drinking: At Christmas I drink too much alcohol and coffee – and too little water. The result is that I feel dehydrated and sore – all of the time! But – that’s all a part of getting into the Christmas spirit, right?
- Exercise: I do a little (10-15 minutes) of yoga every morning. I love the way it makes me feel and sets me up for the day. During the holidays, thought, 10 minutes suddenly seems like an outrageous and unreasonable imposition on my lying-around time. Treat yo self with that extra ten minutes in bed: you deserve it!
- Sleep patterns: I am usually an early riser. Getting up between 5-6am works for me and helps to make me productive throughout the day. Yet at Christmas, I feel entitled to lie ins (for as long as the girls will allow, anyway). This is despite the fact that I will feel terrible for having that extra sleep cycle! I get up feeling groggy and on the back foot. I won’t have achieved anything that I needed to do before the girls wake up in order to feel on top of the day. Similarly – as a newly single mom, Christmas means I have enough enthusiastic family babysitters around to enable that festive Holy Grail: a nap! But I have long known that, sadly, naps make me feel mentally foggy and depressed. So why do I force it?! If you can’t be a bit lazy at Christmas, when will you next get the opportunity?
- Screen time: I usually don’t watch much TV – but I could do with reducing my phone screen time. I feel justified in ignoring this fact as this is my holiday me-time and I don’t need to be productive. But – again – it just makes me feel a bit rubbish… especially as, at Christmas, I always have a pile of beautiful books that I’d loved to read and never find the time. But, reading takes so much more effort than scrolling through endless, pretty and festive Instagram photos!
- Grooming: I seem to spend a lot the holidays in my pyjamas – which I love! I’m surrounded by my nearest and dearest after all: they’ll still love me in my cosy koala pjs. What I am less chuffed-with-myself about is that I can just stay in the same pyjamas for a couple of days without changing – or jumping in the shower and washing my hair. This is just lazy – and always makes me feel a totally ropey. Taking a shower – even if it is just a super quick one – is so important to making me feel good. I feel better still when wearing a hint of make up, brushing my hair and putting on fresh (cosy-koala-free) clothes! But it is another act of self care that I foolishly abandon during the holidays. Because, y’know… it is Christmas!
- Spending habits: This year I have had a baby so have spent month living off the maternity pay equivalent of my salary. I have also had to embark upon an unexpected (and therefore unbudgeted) costly divorce. All whilst gearing up to pay for full time nursery care for both my girls from January when I return to work. It’s the kind of single mom reality which wakes me up at 4am, wide eyed – but thankful I retained my job and will (eventually) earn my way out of this hole. In order to achieve that sooner rather than never, I will need to get very serious about budgeting and cutting non-essential spending. Fortunately I’m also an aspiring minimalist – so the last thing I need is more stuff and clutter! But hey – those are 2019 resolutions, right? I am enjoying yuletide finanical-immunity until then! So it is a festive spending free-for-all! I can justify pretty much any Christmas expense – as recitifying my financial situation it is next year’s problem. Besides, it is baby’s first Christmas: let the spoiling commence!
- Productivity: Most of my Christmases have been spent at other peoples’ homes. This means that, with no homemaking responsibility, I abandon my to do list and basically lose all structure in my days. This total lack of structure is probably what causes me to sit around scoffing chocolate, watching telly and surfing the internet for more stuff to buy. But – I’ve worked hard all year: I deserve this break!
- Mess: During the holidays our homes accommodate more people and invite a major increase in “stuff”. Often there just isn’t enough space for it all and the clutter and the mess piles up. This can have a major impact on mental health and I seem to suffer from the mental fog of overwhelm. I compound this problem by abandoning tidiness basics -like making my bed – and usually have clothes and everything else spilling out of suitcases onto the floor. But, the holidays are only for a few days, so it doesn’t matter, right?
Well, this year I have realised that – even though it is just for a few days – each of these changes in behaviour really do matter. Especially as they all happen at the same time!
My Fairy-Lightbulb Moment
Yesterday I ate, drank and was post-snooze grumpy pretty much all day. I didn’t achieve anything that I should have and looked a complete wreck.
I pondered how much of the holidays I was going to spend in this sub-optimal, self-destructive state. Not interested in listening to this glimmer of common sense (ruining my “fun”!), I told myself to get lost, aimlessly stuffed myself with more chocolate and sloped off to bed.
This morning, however, I was ready to reconsider. My eldest daughter woke crying at 5.30am so I cuddled her for twenty minutes and put her back in her cot, fast asleep. I’d been woken mid sleep cycle so was still sleepy and had to decide… back to bed for an hour or so? Or get up and start the day properly and set myself up for a better day than yesterday.
I realised that I actually didn’t want to go back to bed. I wanted to get up – do some yoga, drink water, eat a plain avocado and then do some writing. So that is what I did. I then went for a shower and got dressed – all before everyone else woke up. I felt like I’d got a serious jump start on the day!
So much so that I decided on my new Christmas Holiday Manifesto…
The CareerMom Christmas Manifesto
So, as at the 22nd December, I am achieving my intervention with my new Christmas Holiday Manifesto. Self-care rules to live by over the next week – to keep my equilibrium and enter the New Year feeling good.
- Food: Only one plateful at each meal. I can stack it as high as I like, but no second helpings. And no chocolate before lunchtime.
- Drinking: At least a litre of water each day – but no more than one cup of coffee and/or two alcoholic drinks.
- Morning Routine: Get in a minimum of ten minutes of yoga each morning before the girls wake. Clean teeth, shower and dress every morning before 8am. Wash my hair at least every other day. Brush my hair and apply some minimal make up. Enjoy a healthy, sugar free breakfast. Work out a to do list of things to achieve during the day: even if is just reading a book and spending time with your family – set your intention for the day.
- Sleeping: Go to bed at a reasonable hour and get up before the girls wake. No more “just because I can” naps. If family are watching the girls, take the time for a screen-free break and read a book instead.
- Screen time: Plenty of screen-free time playing with my girls. And when watching the Muppet’s Christmas Carol with the family, be present and put my phone away.
- Spending: Do a quick audit of essentials and final presents which still need to be bought. Buy these and then stop spending! No more presents for me – from me, no more buying random stuff to bolster the size of gifts for other people. And the girls don’t even know what Christmas is: so they don’t need more presents!
- Tidiness: Make my bed each morning. Devote ten mintues – at least a couple of times a day – to put away toys and tidy up any mess you’ve contributed to. Doubly important when staying in someone else’s home!
24 Hours Later….
Update: 24 hours into my manifesto and I have curbed the worst of my behaviour. I already feel physically better, much happier and am enjoying my time with family more. I am not being too strict because, well – it is Christmas! But, it is clear that a little self discipline is going a long way.
Which Christmas behaviours and habits do you adopt “just because” it is the holidays? What is your Christmas Manifesto for your happiest holiday yet?
Whatever you are doing over the Festive period, CareerMom wishes you a very Merry Christmas with lots of love and cheer! (And a whole Chocolate Orange all to yourself… It is Christmas after all!)
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