Have a merry, low stress Christmas!

If the thought of Christmas dashing toward us faster than Santa’s reindeer is giving you visions not of sugar-plums but of huge to-do lists, maxed out credit cards, crowded shops, long-drives and fighting relatives… don’t worry, you are not the only one.
Many of us end our year and head into our Christmas break overtired, over-committed, overwhelmed and bluntly, over it.

In fact, research has shown that Christmas is considered one of the six most stressful life events, on a list that includes divorce, changing jobs and moving house. It is the time of year that people are most likely to feel anxious or experience a low mood.
Why is this? Isn’t Christmas supposed to be “The Most Wonderful Time of The Year” with kids Jingle Belling and stuff?

For many people, Christmas-time is wonderful; but that’s not everyone’s experience. For others, Christmas celebrations can be marred by financial pressures, unrealistic expectations, a sense of obligation, family tensions, loneliness, time pressure, relationship issues, grief, or simply reflecting on another year gone by.

If this is you, let’s think about some ways to manage your seasonal stress.

Prioritize Self-Care: Too many of us forgo self-care in the pursuit of the perfect Christmas. We run ourselves ragged: planning, cleaning, cooking, shopping, hosting and then cleaning again. This is often multiplied by several different events throughout the holiday season. We have our extended families, our in-laws, our work, our partners work, and our kids’ schools to consider; but what about us? When do we sleep, exercise, plan our own meals, or take the time to relax? Lack of self-care can contribute to stress over the holiday season. Take care of you!

Set Limits: You don’t need to say “yes” to every function and event that you are invited to, unless you want to! Its okay to say “no”: even if your only other plan is to order Thai takeaway and watch Netflix. Learn to be aware of your own body and mind; if you pay attention to what they are telling you, you will know when it’s time for a break. Take it!

Realistic Expectations: We can get so caught up in how much fun we, and everyone around us, should be having, that we forget to actually have fun. We don’t need to create the perfect Pinterest Christmas party, or to have a spotless house and a Michelin Star-worthy meal. Your guests are there to see you, not your house. Try to relax and be in the moment.

Feel your Feelings: Its okay not to be okay this Christmas. For some, holidays can increase feelings of loneliness or grief, especially if they have lost a loved one. We don’t need to pretend that everything is okay, or expect that everything will be like it once was at Christmas. And we absolutely don’t need to feel guilty about feeling this way.

If you try to be kind to yourself this Christmas holidays, you are likely to feel more happiness, peace, and joy by the time you dig into that Christmas pudding on December 25th.
Merry Christmas!

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Dreams really do come true; eventually.

When I was 15, a friend’s dad asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up and I proudly announced that I was going to be a WRITER.
He replied: “Where will you go to learn that, LaLa university?”

One unthinking sentence from a respected adult and my teenage aspiration became an unrealizable pipe dream. I felt silly and naive.

Words can hurt, even if they are a joke.

I stopped writing for a long time after that.

Today, I have the incredible privilege of helping young people achieve their own career goals. I take it seriously. Dreams are so fragile.

And guess what? I now also get to write. I write because I am a writer, and I’m a writer because I write.

I now have a publishing deal and will publish my first book in 2019.

If you have a dream, no matter how far off course life steers you, there is always a way back. It’s never too late to follow your dream.

I now write every day.

My soul needs it.

No LaLa university required.

This too shall pass, new mama.

I struggled with the newborn stage.

It was a time when I was never alone, but always lonely.

I was bored out of my mind, but couldn’t concentrate on anything.

I was desperately, desperately, tired but too wired to sleep.

I guess some people aren’t “baby people” and I’m one of those people.

I wish I could go back and tell myself “it won’t be like this forever”. This too shall pass. This baby will very soon be a hilarious, cheeky, loving and amazing human that you can’t imagine life without.

I can’t go back in time, but I can tell you, new mama in the trenches. The world will soon expand again. You are still you, and you are seen.

Real #mumlife

Here is an example of how social media can skew our perceptions of reality and our own lives. See, I’d normally add these photos to my Facebook and Instagram accounts and say something like “library play dates” or “love mummy-son days off”. Today, because I’m feeling really done, and my filter is broken, I’ll say this instead: This photo captured the very rare moment in between today’s tantrums which occurred approximately every 15 minutes and were triggered by everything from getting sand on his finger, to not being allowed an ice-cream, to absolutely nothing that I could tell. I’m exhausted, I’m frustrated, my back is killing me, and I just told my two year old that he needed to nap because “we need some time apart from each other”. We see each other’s highlight reels on social media and our own blooper reels in real life; I know I’m always coming up short. While I’ll probably keep posting cute photos, I think we can all agree that despite appearances, #parentlife can be freaking hard some days! Next time you compare your life to a cute insta moment, remember that snapshot could have been the only moment of beauty in the midst of a day of chaos!

World Breastfeeding Week

World Breastfeeding Week.

A week that celebrates breastfeeding. A week that also aims to educate women and raise awareness of common breastfeeding challenges… right?

Breastfeeding was the the plan for me. I tried and struggled until my premature baby was losing weight, hungry and yellow. He wasn’t strong enough to latch properly and I wasn’t producing any milk via the pump.

Then I switched to formula, against STRONG advice from the lactation consultants, despite his “failure to thrive”.

Perhaps your reasons for not breastfeeding are different from mine. Chronic pain; history of sexual abuse; shyness; medications; mental health issues. You may have none of these, but you do have body autonomy and can choose what you want to do with your own body.

But you may feel the same guilt I did. Especially at times like World Breastfeeding Week.

I did feel guilt until I realised:

I made the right desision. For me, my baby and our family. The struggle to breastfeed was impacting on his health. On our bonding. On my mental health. On my physical health. On our family’s calm.

My son is more than a digestive system.

It was time to stop seeing us both as failures: Him a failure to thrive, me a failure as a mum from the beginning. Time to move on with our lives.

And now I describe our feeding journey, our bottle feeding journey, as successful. In every sense of the word.