Having a Low Key Christmas

Eco-ChristmasI absolutely love the festive season. Changes in season in general makes me feel excited! I’m partial to a bit of Christmas FM this year to feel festive. Being away from home at Christmas time does tug at my heartstrings. When I moved to London, heading home to Ireland was always so magical. But with now having Arthur and being married etc. it means we do the fair thing and take turns between families each year, meaning we get to spend quality time with everyone.

We are at a point in our lives, as a new family, we are redefining what Christmas means to us and how we spend it. In my early twenties, pre-Arthur, I would spend heaps of money on new clothes, gifts for others, gifts for myself (LOL) and of course all the nights out. Things have certainly changed and perspective gained when we’ve not got a disposable income anymore. We’ve got bills, a mortgage, a car to run and slowly working though our debt. I’m actually kind of glad of this perspective because it gets us back to basics. Not having a disposable income means getting creative with what we have and savouring time together as a family. It kind of ties in with us striving to be more eco and minimal anyways.

I wanted to chat a bit more about how Christmas time can come with mixed emotions:

Pressure

There is so much pressure at this time of year, from all angles. Its almost like a Christmas assault on the senses happens from the 1st of December. I’m all for making the most of it, but there’s elements of Christmas I feel has gotten so out of hand. The extent and level of consumerism is insane. So much plastic tat in the shops, boxes of toiletries that people probably don’t even want.

Myself and Brad have been feeling pretty stressed at times this year, having organised a wedding and working our way through healing Arthur. We’ve discovered he has multiple allergies and pretty severe eczema that really impacts the quality of his life – and ours caring for him. The last thing we need is heaps of pressure. So honing it down in respects to expectations of one another – but also speaking openly about our feelings and managing family outings over the holidays.

We just want to be with our loved ones, enjoy their company and get out for nice walks. And of course for Arthur to play with his cousins and spend time with his relatives. Oh and all the food also.

Cost

Christmas can cost a fortune if you allow it to. We’ve had a massive year with our wedding and now are planning our next big life move. With being back only part time at work on my part, we definitely have to be more careful. We do secret Santa with some of the family. Myself and my sister have agreed not to buy more stuff for each others kids as they will get gifts from lots of other relatives. This is a relief for both of us. Myself and Brad won’t be buying each other gifts. Instead we are hoping for a cottage retreat somewhere in England. We are thinking New Forest or somewhere where we can feel chill and close to nature.

However we don’t want to be completely empty handed to those we love and care for us. When gifting, we will be making sure what we give is what the person really wants/needs. I had big plans to make some heartfelt, home made gifts – however when you’ve got a sickly baby for a almost a full week in December, followed by multiple doctors appointments – time is a bit of an issue.

Santa

The old Santa debacle. Honestly, I never imagined I’d question Santa so much as a parent! I have fond memories of believing in Santa is a kid. I felt it was part of the magic. We’ve decided we won’t be bringing Arthur to see Santa this year as he will probably just freak out if we try perch him on a strangers lap. We want Arthur to have his own boundaries and we’re pretty sure putting him on a strangers knee he will be like WTF. We’re yet to decide how we will play it in explaining who Santa is but basically we are not keen in lying to him or threatening him to “be good”. What we don’t want however is for him to feel left out in any way so we will see what future years will hold. Santa is a very western concept so we are bearing that in mind.

So here is how we are spending Christmas 2018 and keeping it low key.

  • We are spending Christmas Day at Brads Mums. It is always so magical around at our Faeirie Glammas house. They do it proper party style and loads of delicious food. They are super excited about having Arthur around for his first Christmas at theirs. I’ve been tasked at making colcannon and I’ve got a good recipe in mind.
  • My parents are visiting from Ireland and staying at my sisters for over the holiday period. We will aim to see them over the week they are here by going for nice walks and chilling together. Also we will rope them in for some baby sitting duties!
  • Getting out into nature. We are totally swerving the shops this year and purchasing online. Going for a walk in the woods is so much more appealing right now and helping anxiety levels, rather than accelerating them in big, busy Christmas crowds.
  • Myself and Brad are going to try and get a few hours to ourselves for a “day date”. We really need some time to recalibrate and Arthur will get to spend time with his grandparents. Day dates are great for particularly exhausted parents, meaning you can have all the fun daytime and still crawl into bed early.
  • Usually we buy a small potted tree for the flat, however being in a one bed, space is an issue. Also the last two years we’ve tried to keep the small trees alive in the garden to re-use but failed spectacularly. So we I am making the house festive by foraging in the local park and our garden! This makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. So far we’ve got a rosemary branch Christmas tree and I love it!
  • I have not yet bought any new winter clothes which is a big thing for me! Annoyingly I have a bag stashed somewhere with festive jumpers and dresses but I think its buried in the shed somewhere. In the past I would buy so many new outfits for the holidays, so I’m doing well!
  • I’m making some decorations. I’ve dried some oranges and plan to use the fairy lights from our wedding to decorate the house.
  • We’ve let family know we need to keep it low key and they understand.
  • We are hoping to getaway for New Years Eve – just the three of us. We didn’t have a honey moon and we’ve had some rough patches this year so we’d love a wee break just the three of us.
  • Our family and friends know our stance on purchasing items which won’t be used. It adds to consumer madness, so Arthur was kindly bought his winter jacket and some new clothing from family.

What we bought Arthur

We are well aware that actually Arthur doesn’t “need” anything. He’s ordinarily happy just climbing everything at home. We did want to get him some low key gifts, ones that he will enjoy and get fun from! Understandably, some of these are for our enjoyment as parents to see him have fun and giving gifts feels nice.

  • Two second hand Peppa pig toys from eBay. Ordinarily we wouldn’t buy plastic toys but he is Peppa pig crazy – so this is my plan to help limit television time. I’ve been super conscious and guilty about TV time with Arthur. It is one thing that soothes him however when he is in an itching fit and trying to tear at his skin during nappy changes and in general. The two toys are Peppa Pig xylophone and laptop (also try and stop him boshing my one). He has already got his little hands on the xylophone and loves it! Also plastic/wooden toys are a better option for little kids with sensitive skin. Children with eczema can flare up to dust mites in soft toys. Also buying second hand reduces the consumer demand and prevents decent toys going to landfill.
  • Wooden easel with crayons – he is just getting into drawing and managing to hold crayons. Arthur recently redecorated a wall in our house with an orange felt tip so hopefully this will limit further adventures throughout the house to one place!
  • Toddler football – Brad is football mad. Arthur gets super excited when he sees his Dad cheering the football on the telly. We’ve noticed he shows more interest in balls in general so got him his own to kick about.

Also I love this following quote about purchasing for kids at Christmas

“Something they want, something they need, something to wear, something to read”

I hope you all have a lovely Christmas time, get merry and most importantly – spend it in a way that feels right for you. Don’t allow celebrations or pressures to affect your mental health if in any way possible. Don’t go into debt to gift people. Don’t feel guilty for spending it how feels right for you.

Take care,

Gill x

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