Christmas can be a difficult time for many, and where possible, it can be helpful to think of how we can create a Christmas that works for us.
With or without celebrations. We all have our own way of doing things, different traditions, and different feelings about the holiday time. The most important thing is to aim for is a Christmas that is enjoyable and achievable, for our unique situation and energy levels.
We may be mourning the loss of some of our traditions from before we cared for someone. Or, we may be excited about the opportunity to create new ones. All feelings are valid.
Perhaps we’re caring for a child who is unable to understand or engage with Christmas. Or we may be caring for someone with dementia, and we feel that our Christmas traditions are slipping away. Here are 'Eight ways we can support someone with dementia during Christmas', written by Alzheimer's Society.
Making a Christmas that works for us doesn't have to include putting up a picture-perfect tree,buying the right gift (or any gifts at all), or building a snowman - if we're ‘lucky’ enough to get any snow. Below, members of our community have shared different ways we can make Christmas Day that bit easier, fun, and a bit more special.
Nine carers' tips on making Christmas work for YOU
Carers in the Mobilise community have kindly shared their tips on how to do Christmas their way!
1. If cooking feels like too much, get an alternative
We could grab ourselves a Tesco Finest Christmas Dinner for two. Choose one main, one side, one dessert, and one drink (all serves two) for £12 - for those of us who have a clubcard. It's a great way to avoid the high effort on a meal that won’t always be finished.
“I don’t feel up to cooking for everyone so I am keeping it very simple this year. I am buying some mince pies, Christmas cake and Christmas pudding ready-made from Tesco!”
Or, if we are feeling a bit more flush, there are lots of takeaways open on Christmas Day. With options like Deliveroo and Just East we can now have these brought right to our door. Just get your order in early to avoid long wait times on the day.
Cook also have a range of Christmas meal bundles, for those of us with a higher budget, which could help to avoid hours spent in the kitchen.
2. Connecting with others
With technology readily available it can be a real boost for those of us spending time alone, or not with family, to schedule a video call for the day. You could open presents, eat your Christmas lunch together, or just have a good catch-up.
“Having a couple of people to call, especially if they're also on their own, really lifts spirits. Both mine and theirs!"
Or join us on our Christmas Day cuppa! We’ll be getting together on Zoom at 11:30am for some fun and connection. Everyone is welcome. Alternatively, reading stories from other carers on how they spend their Christmas might help us to feel more connected, knowing there are others out there who may have similar experiences to us.
3. Treat ourselves
Buy ourselves a lovely little gift to make the festive season feel more fun - maybe something to pamper ourselves on the day, our favourite scented bubble bath, a cosy new set of PJs, or a new DVD box set to get stuck into! Find one or two small things that will really bring us joy and feel like giving ourselves a big hug on Christmas Day. This might also look like treating ourselves with our time. Spending longer in our pyjamas than we would usually allow ourselves, or leaving the dishes for ‘tomorrow us’ to deal with (or even better, getting someone else in the family to help.)
“One of my favourite Christmases was spent in pyjamas eating picky bits from M&S”
4. Buy indulgent food!
Continuing with the theme of treating ourselves! Maybe it's the Tesco meal deal mentioned above? Or a yummy cheese board? Or some salted caramel? What's your favourite? I think mine has to be the cheese! And then savour it! Try to take the time to notice each of the flavours and really enjoy it.
It can really lift the mood of the room, and build a sense of occasion. But if that's too much, even just a lovely scented candle or string of fairy lights can make a room feel more welcoming. Check out tips from our community on ways to make our homes feel cosier at this time of year.
6. Pop tunes on!
And no, they don't have to be Christmas tunes!
Get in the present wrapping or Christmas Day mood, with a great playlist and our favourite drink. Maybe light a candle too. Music can really help to enhance our mood.
For those of us on Spotify, it has some great playlists, Christmassy or otherwise. Or we could pop on a YouTube playlist and have the music videos for the company too.
7. Ignore external expectations
There is no definition of what a 'good Christmas' should look like. It's no one else's business how we choose to spend our Christmas.
“It helps me to remember it is just another day, and modern day expectations are just not realistic for so many of us.”
Comparing our situation with others can be the thief of joy. Especially when all we see are happy images on social media. But try not to let other people's expectations pressurise you. Each of us is allowed to make the best decisions for ourselves and our household.
8. Go with the flow
When life has a tendency to throw us curveballs, it can be liberating to be flexible. To go with the flow, rather than to resist. For those of us familiar with Tai Chi, we'll know that there is great power in yielding, rather than fighting and resisting.
It can also be helpful to remember that the condition and needs of the person we care for won’t pause for Christmas Day. We might “get lucky” and have a low-demand cuppa kind of day, but we might not. It can be helpful to anticipate how “our best self” will handle “those moments”, so they’re less likely to derail our day. Anticipating our response gives some of the power back to us. (And if we do “lose it” for a moment, some self kindness is our healing friend).
9. Find time for ourselves
During what can be a busy day, week, or month, it can be beneficial to find ways to carve out some time for ourselves.
This could look like stepping into our bedroom for two minutes to take some calming breaths, or using our senses for this grounding technique to help us feel more present in our bodies.
Our tips on taking care of ourselves when there is no time could be helpful here.
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