It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…the supermarkets are brimming with food and presents, the Christmas trees are going up and so are stress levels! IF you’re a mum of school-aged children like me there is a lot to do and you might be looking for some ways of reducing christmas stress.

I am really feeling the pressure of constant festive-requests – in the last two weeks alone my list has included.. nativity costumes, christmas jumpers, mufti day, donations for the school fair, volunteering at the school fair, two bake sales, party food, collections for the teacher, organising a class card for the teacher… the list goes on and on.

It is very easy to get overwhelmed at this time of year. This year I am determined not to let it get too much so that I can enjoy the festive period with my family. Here are five ways I am reducing Christmas stress levels this year, I hope they help you too!

Plan ahead

It might sound obvious but planning ahead helps me spread out the workload into manageable pieces throughout December or even earlier. Not only that but it means I can delegate some of the jobs along the way! Meal planning, presents lists and scheduling key Christmas activities helps me stay in control of what needs to be done and transfers the stress from my mind to the paper.  I’m a huge fan of a list and as well as a paper diary which I run my life by, I use Google calender to make sure everything is in my husband’s diary that needs to be. Nothing feels better than ticking something off the list!

Cut some necessary corners

My main tip for parents is always to lower your expections and cut corners where you can! While it might feel like we have to do it all ourselves, there are some excellent services out there for cutting a few non-essential corners! Take these for example..

  • When it comes to food, not everything has to be made from scratch and there are some lovely choices from M&S, Waitrose, Cook or even HelloFresh.
  • Christmas cards are time consuming to write and not good for the environment, so sending an e-card saves time and helps the planet! I write cards every other year and send an email and charity donation on the alternating years.
  • Wrapping odd-shaped presents is not my favourite thing to do so I reuse Christmas gift bags from previous years to save time there. What are your favourite ways to cut corners at this time of year?
low key christmas

Manage expectations

It can seem like every year yet another thing gets added to the list to make a ‘magical’ Christmas. Elf on the Shelf, Christmas Eve boxes, visits to Santa’s grotto, Christmas baking with the kids, personalised advent calendars…the list just keeps growing. This year I plan to manage my own, and my children’s expectations, by only focussing on the things that I have time for and really enjoy. We don’t have an elf, we don’t have Christmas Eve boxes, we don’t have personalised matching family pajamas .. and yet my children don’t feel at all deprived! This year they are loving their simple chocolate advent calendars from the supermarket and looking at Christmas lights in our local neighbourhood.. simple, cost effective and low stress for me!

Find some calm in the storm

Taking some time away from the noise of Christmas can be a great way to reduce stress. While it might not be possible to disappear for a few hours or days at a time, practising a little bit of mindfulness on a regular basis can really help. I love using the Headspace app and find that even a few minutes a day in between jobs helps me to clear my head. Have you tried it yet?

Shop efficiently

The shopping side of Christmas can feel hugely overwhelming, especially if you have a large family. With so much to choose from these days it can feel like finding a needle in a haystack. I find that vouchers for adults are a great way round this and gives your loved one the freedom to buy and choose what they want. Photo shoot vouchers go down really well at this time of year with friends and family and are extremely easy to organise! Once those are dealt with I can focus the rest of my time organising presents for the kids. Wish me luck!

I’d love to hear your tips for reducing stress this Christmas, use the comments below or contact me here.

My name is Katie Lister and I’m a Surrey family photographer living in Hersham with my two children Sienna and Joey. I will not be spending all day in the kitchen this Christmas!

christmas kids in a box by katie lister