East Riding Life Coach Helen Thorburn is a busy mum of two. Each month she will write about topics that all mums face, take two minutes for yourself to read on…

Christmas: How to remain (reasonably) sane

It’s started already. The light may have only just begun to dim but the pace is already gathering. Christmas. The most wonderful time of the year. Also a potential minefield of emotions, practicalities and sugar induced tantrums. A bit of preparation is always the key so here are some tips to greet the New Year happy and unscathed.

Break the cycle

At Christmas, as with most family occasions, triggers for stress can often take a predictable path.  It could be the run-up that causes you the most anxiety or situations that you are pretty sure will arise over the festive period. If so, it’s a good idea to spend a little time identifying what these are and planning how to deal with them in advance.


Some questions you might want to ask yourself could be:

Would I feel better if I stuck to a clear budget for food & presents?

Do I really need to send a card to everyone?

Should I suggest having a secret Santa for extended family?

What would be a good idea if situation x happens?


You’ve got a much better chance of dealing with a potentially stressful situation if you’ve thought it through beforehand. As a starting point, here are some possible ways of defusing some family situations:

  • Going out for a walk (as a group- or alone).
  • Meeting friends/ family at a local event, or out for breakfast rather than home.
  • Playing a board game.
  • Having pre-agreed sweet/ screen times.
  • Making a cup of tea.
  • Or if you’re lucky, just a quick change in topic at the start of a conversation.


Lists, lists, lists…

I love lists. It often helps if you write things down as it can make a lot more sense of what is in your head. If there’s so much to list it’s overwhelming, start with a list of what’s bothering you. Go through this list and write down ways you can address these issues.

Another list tip. When you write them, be it Christmas card, presents…, it’s worth putting the items in priority order. Then, if you get halfway down the list and run out of time, at least you’ve got the important stuff done.


Making memories: Keep it simple

As parents we want each of our child’s Christmases to be magical. Under this pressure it’s easy to succumb to spending huge amounts of time (and money) in our quest to achieve this.

I read an article recently which asked the reader to think back to the things that made Christmas special to them. My magical Christmas memories included the thrill of hearing my dad say that he had heard sleigh bells, or all of us trooping up the stairs singing our family version of Jingle Bells. Nothing flashy or expensive. My children love the ‘special’ family tea we have on Christmas Eve (Heinz tomato soup & sausage rolls). And much as I love Christmas dinner, it is just a meal – or as my son puts it ‘Posh Sunday lunch’.

What’s important to you? Does it really matter if the sausages get burnt?


So whether it’s beans on toast or a Nigella basted turkey, I hope you have a good one!

Helen Thorburn has worked in education for the past 15 years both as a teacher and in an advisory capacity. Having experienced the positive impact of coaching on young people’s lives through her work in inclusion, she has progressed to coaching adults. She is currently working towards her Level 2 & 3 Diplomas in Life Coaching and is delivering her first well being retreat, in conjunction with Angela Stone Yoga instructor, this September at The Orange Tree in Rosedale. Look out for regular articles, when Helen will provide East Riding Mums with advice and tips on how to cope with modern family life.

Copyright 2015 Helen Thorburn


Life Coach Helen Thorburn. How to remain (reasonably) sane at xmas