Parenting - - In This Issue -

Tips for cop­ing with this very busy time

There’s no deny­ing that one of the most ex­cit­ing times for fam­i­lies, can of­ten be their busiest. Christ­mas , the end of the cal­en­dar year and the start of sum­mer hol­i­days com­bined mean there is lots to achieve in a short time. It’s easy to feel over­whelmed when it feels like our di­ary en­tries have quadru­pled overnight. We spoke to three ex­perts; an au­thor and blog­ger, a time man­age­ment pro­fes­sional, and a nu­tri­tion ex­pert to get their tips on cop­ing with – and en­joy­ing – this ex­tra busy time.

Don't send Christ­mas Cards - send 'Happy New Year' cards

In­stead of get­ting to the first week of De­cem­ber and freak­ing out be­cause 'oh my good­ness we need to take a fam­ily photo ... and then get it printed on some cards ... and then I need to write those cards AND get them into the post within a week else they won't get there be­fore Christ­mas' ... how about - don't! Why not take a huge load of pres­sure off by wait­ing till (late) Jan­uary and send 'Happy New Year' cards in­stead?

Make sure you move your body ev­ery day

This has two ma­jor benefits. The first is men­tal - if you're feel­ing a lit­tle fraz­zled, sim­ply get­ting out of the house and go­ing for a 10 minute walk is guar­an­teed to bring your arousal level down sev­eral notches. It will also make the dif­fi­cult peo­ple and stress­ful cir­cum­stances that are part and par­cel of this time of year a bit eas­ier to deal with. The sec­ond is that we tend to overindulge at this time of year and at least a lit­tle of that overindul­gence can be off­set sim­ply by mak­ing sure we move our bod­ies for 30 min­utes each day.

Ditch the guilt - just be mind­ful when you eat

Speak­ing of overindulging, gosh that brings a lot of guilt with it doesn't it? So how do we avoid this guilt? Just ex­ert some self­con­trol right? De­velop some willpower?

No. This is such a bad time of year to try and call on our fi­nite sources of willpower. Try this in­stead: eat the damn cake. Cut your­self a slice, place it on a plate, and then, giv­ing that lovely piece of cake your full at­ten­tion, eat it. Sim­ply be­ing mind­ful while we're eat­ing at this time of year, and giv­ing what we're eat­ing our

full at­ten­tion, is a re­ally easy way to stop with the overindulging. Try it. You'll be sur­prised what a dif­fer­ence it makes.

Don't think, just do

A chief cause of over­whelm at any time of year is op­tions - things like 'should I empty the dish­washer now, or later?', 'should I get the clothes off the line now, or later?'

Too many op­tions equals too many de­ci­sions and too many de­ci­sions make us tired and fraz­zled. A su­per-fast way to re­move de­ci­sions from our lives is to tell our­selves that if some­thing is go­ing to take less than 1 minute, do it now. So wash your cof­fee cup and put it away. Empty the bin. Go get that glass of wa­ter. Don't think, just do!

Don't try and fit in too many things - make life as sim­ple as you can.

If you’re find­ing the fam­ily is get­ting tired – par­ents and chil­dren – could you pos­si­bly be try­ing to fit too much in? Other ex­ter­nal hob­bies, sports and in­ter­ests can be picked up in years to come. We don’t have to do ev­ery­thing, and our kids won’t be dis­ad­van­taged if they don’t do as many sports and af­ter-school ac­tiv­i­ties as some of their mates. Chil­dren need time to chill, even do noth­ing. It’s un­healthy for them to be al­ways or­gan­ised within an inch of their lives.

Don’t be a per­fec­tion­ist.

One day I found my­self say­ing to a wise friend, ‘Sorry the win­dows are so dirty. I had the grand­chil­dren over yes­ter­day.’ ‘They’re not dirty win­dows, Robyn,’ she said. ‘They’re love marks.’ What re­ally mat­ters in your life? Would you rather have a sticky, messy house, with the love and joy of th­ese chil­dren and the rich and busy life you lead, or a clean but empty house? There are plenty of years to tidy up, once they've left home. Work out what is non-ne­go­tiable, get some fam­ily agree­ments, and let go of un­re­al­is­tic ex­pec­ta­tions.

Start a 24 hour box.

Fol­low the ex­am­ple of Catherine, a mother of five, a dairy farmer, a part-time teacher and also much in­volved with com­mu­nity ac­tiv­i­ties.

‘I got sick of tidy­ing up af­ter my chil­dren so de­cided to start a 24-hour box. The deal is, if I find any­thing ly­ing around it goes in the box. Af­ter 24 hours, if no-one has claimed it and put it away, the ‘aban­doned’ prop­erty goes in the rub­bish.’ Once the sys­tem was fully in place only a few pre­cious items had to be thrown out be­fore the les­son stuck. Now ev­ery­one takes re­spon­si­bil­ity for their ‘stuff’ and the house keeps pretty tidy.

It’s ok to say no.

Don’t feel guilty for say­ing no to a few par­ties or gath­er­ings. It is not un­com­mon in the weeks lead­ing up to Christ­mas to have two events on one night, and you spend your time rush­ing be­tween the two and not en­joy­ing ei­ther. Peo­ple will un­der­stand that you can’t make it to ev­ery BBQ or event, some­times it is just nice to say no, and get a good night’s sleep.

Re­mem­ber what you are grate­ful for.

It is not un­com­mon to feel over­whelmed with the ap­proach of Christ­mas. In­stead of feel­ing stressed by all that needs to be done, try and see it from the other side. Re­mind your­self how blessed you are to have peo­ple to buy presents for, or food you need to pre­pare and the means to do so. It is hard to feel stressed when you feel grat­i­tude. Be­ing grate­ful is to be truly present in life, be­ing in the now and re­al­is­ing what an in­cred­i­ble gift life is. There are a lot of lovely herbs that you can use to sup­port th­ese feel­ings. Seek a health pro­fes­sional’s ad­vice about us­ing With­a­nia for some ad­di­tional adrenal sup­port. As busy as you may be, we cope so much bet­ter with chal­lenges when we take some time for our­selves. Even just 15 min­utes in a café (hav­ing a green tea of course) with your book of the mo­ment or a mag­a­zine you love, can leave you feel­ing re­freshed and re-en­er­gised. Tak­ing time out for you will al­low you to be more present and re­laxed with your fam­ily.

Keep track.

This time of year can be a time where we tend to in­dulge in too much al­co­hol and ‘party food’. Main­tain­ing a whole food diet and re­duc­ing your al­co­hol in­take will do won­ders for your stress lev­els and keep you glow­ing and look­ing great in the Christ­mas pho­tos. Eat­ing a nour­ish­ing din­ner be­fore head­ing to events is a great way to re­duce the temp­ta­tion to snack on too many canapés. Be sure to keep track of how much al­co­hol you are drink­ing. The World Health Or­gan­i­sa­tion rec­om­mends not to drink any more than two stan­dard drinks per day with at least two al­co­hol free days per week. How­ever many can­cer or­gan­i­sa­tions around the world en­dorse the state­ment that if you have fam­ily his­tory of can­cer then there is no safe level of al­co­hol con­sump­tion. Try swap­ping your al­co­holic drinks for sparkling wa­ter with lime or fresh rasp­ber­ries. Serve it in a wine glass and en­joy know­ing that you are do­ing some­thing that serves your health and doesn’t take away your shine.

Re­mem­ber it is what you do all the time, not what you do some times.

Food is such a big part of cel­e­bra­tions so it is ok to make a few ex­cep­tions dur­ing this time. In be­tween cel­e­bra­tions make sure you amp up the plant con­tent of your diet to sup­port your body with the nu­tri­ents it needs to look af­ter your body. A green drink in the morn­ing is a great way to sup­port your health and to pro­vide your body with a big dose of an­tiox­i­dants to help min­imise the dam­age from al­co­hol and nu­tri­ent poor party foods. Try hav­ing a smoothie packed full of greens, nuts and seeds or a juice made from veg­eta­bles like kale, spinach, gin­ger, and beet­root. Kelly Ex­eter is a writer and re­formed over-com­mit­ter – she blogs about this at A Life Less Fran­tic. www.kel­lyex­ She is the au­thor of the book Your Best Year Yet, where she looks at the life lessons she’s learned the hard way, shar­ing 7 sim­ple ways to shift your think­ing for the bet­ter. Robyn Pearce reck­ons she’s had the best pos­si­ble back­ground for run­ning a time man­age­ment busi­ness; “I re­ally do un­der­stand how it feels to be out of con­trol!” First she was a li­brar­ian, then a farmer’s wife and mother of six (in­clud­ing an in­tel­lec­tu­ally hand­i­capped foster son un­til he was 16), then ended up a solo mother on a ben­e­fit. Af­ter a few long years she de­cided to fight her way out of the poverty trap and be­came a very suc­cess­ful real es­tate agent. Now she shares the skills she has learned along the way. Find out more at www.get­tin­ga­

Dr Libby Weaver is one of Aus­trala­sia's lead­ing nu­tri­tion and well­ness ex­perts. She is an in­ter­na­tional speaker and best-sell­ing au­thor of Accidentally Over­weight and Rush­ing Woman's Syn­drome. Her lat­est book The Calo­rie Fal­lacy: Stop Di­et­ing and Start Nour­ish­ing is de­signed to help you stop di­et­ing and start living. Rather than get­ting bogged down con­tin­u­ally count­ing calo­ries, Dr Libby en­cour­ages us to un­der­stand our bod­ies, how they work and what they need. She takes a truly holis­tic ap­proach to health and well-be­ing.

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