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Christmas, for all its fun and festivities, can be a particularly challenging time of year – especially when you have children to take into account!

As overwhelming as it can feel, it’s a brilliant opportunity to spend even more together and can help develop a closer bond, not to mention building those family traditions that everyone loves to return to each year. 

Christmas is such an exciting time of year for our children and we like to kick it off by decorating the tree and beginning the countdown with an advent calendar. It’s very hands-on, so the kids love to get involved!

One of our favourite ways to spend time together at Christmas is over a classic Christmas film on TV. We like to have a movie night with popcorn, and all cuddle up together on the sofa. There’s an added element of fun as we take it in turns to choose the film!

Away from the box at home, we also really love a panto in our house (Oh yes we do!), so we normally try to see at least one over the festive period. As well as the enjoyment factor, this gives us another opportunity to have a conversation with the kids and to listen to their thoughts and opinions on it. 

We’re also going to a 'Victorian Christmas' event, which last year was charming and magical with carol singers, homemade mince pies and a lovely Father Christmas who took time to talk to each of the children. There are so many different events at Christmas it can be hard to choose. We like this kind of family experience as it’s good fun and doesn’t revolve around spending lots of money! 

Lastly, it isn’t Christmas without a visit to see Sion Corn!

Everyone loves to receive presents at Christmas, but we really try to instill that it’s a time to be spent with friends and family and doing something kind for others too. We try to involve the children in a charitable activity each year and through this they learn that the joy of giving is just as great as receiving! By demonstrating the importance of gratitude, Dean and I hope that the children will appreciate how fortunate they are.

We’re doing something different this year too. We’ll be including an experience gift for each child rather than mountains of plastic presents. This doesn’t necessarily need to be a paid-for experience either. There are so many free activities out there, where the time and experience spent together alone will be just as appreciated. They'll still have gifts to open, but so far, they are very excited by the idea. I think the phrase presence over presents is very true. The children love making memories, and memories last a lot longer. 
Changes in routine, extra social pressures and late nights can be challenging for adults let alone children. It’s important to me to build some flexibility into the plans to account for any of life’s little surprises. This year we’re at home for Christmas and extended family are coming to us. It’s great that the children will be comfortable in their own home – having so many visitors can still make it a challenge for them to relax in all the excitement!

Christmas can inevitably feel overwhelming, so here are a few of my own ideas to remove the stress and make it the enjoyable time it’s meant to be:

  • Have quiet games to play together
  • Cuddle up on the sofa and watch a Christmas film 
  • Keep healthy snacks on hand, as well as the treats!
  • Try to stick to normal routines wherever possible
  • If bedtime is later one night, build in some rest time over the following day 
  • Let them enjoy free playtime with their new toys