The festive season is a time of joy, celebration, and togetherness. However, for those on the journey to parenthood, it can also bring a unique set of challenges. With all your weekends being taken up with Christmas parties and get-togethers, it can make it hard trying to dodge Karen’s “when are you having kids” question and secretly drinking all the mocktails without anyone noticing that you’re completely sober!
So if the thought of all this is already making you feel uncomfortable about the festive season, here are my tips on how to get through it, maybe not completely unscathed, we all know Karen can be very nosy but have some tools in your toolbelt to make it just that little bit less stressful.
1. Don’t Feel Bad to Say No to Certain Events: Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way... to your couch! Embrace the art of saying "no", don't hesitate to decline events that may cause you stress or discomfort. You're not the Grinch; you're prioritising self-care, which is a gift to yourself. There will be plenty of other catch-ups in the coming months, so don't feel bad about missing one or three during December/January.
2. Have the Pavlova - You Don’t Have to Be Perfect All of the Time: The holidays often come with an overload of consuming all the food and drinks at Christmas lunches to the point you won't eat for the rest of the day and you need a nap to recover from your food coma. Remember, it's okay to indulge occasionally and savour the festive treats. Release the pressure of being perfect in every aspect of your life, including your diet and even exercise. You are busy, these days or weeks will pass then you can get back to your normal pattern. Keep in mind, perfection, even outside of the festive season, isn't one to strive towards. A healthy balance is key when it comes to your lifestyle, allow yourself to eat, drink or do things you enjoy without having guilt attached to it. Also, on a side note, you may be able to burn some extra calories by dodging awkward conversations.
3. Have a Plan to Deal with Unwanted Questions or Situations: Navigating the festive season may involve facing well-meaning but prying questions (we're looking at you, Karen) or being surrounded by your nieces, nephews and too many babies enjoying the Christmas joy. A good way to feel prepared is to discuss potential responses to these questions that feel comfortable for you and your partner. And be sure to plan, based on your location, somewhere you can go to take a moment for yourself during these catchups if it is all getting too much. Or if your friends and family know that you are trying to conceive ask if there is a room you could use to get some space if needed. I'd also recommend using a code word to tell each other when you have had enough and you're ready to leave. Having a plan in place will help you feel more in control of your interactions and situations.
Some ideas to help with tricky conversations are to focus on redirecting the conversation or politely sharing that you'd prefer not to discuss certain topics. Or even better, come up with some witty one-liners.
Here are some that I've come up with, my favourites are just being completely honest, as it will probably throw them off guard!
"We'll have kids when we're ready"
"That's a very personal question that I don't feel like answering"
"Did you know some people struggle to get pregnant and may not like being asked this type of question"
"We are trying but it's taking longer than expected"
"We're enjoying practising at the moment"
"We're following Santa's advice: making a list and checking it twice."
4. Try to Continue Your Normal Routine as Much as Possible: Maintaining a sense of normalcy can be grounding during the holidays. Stick to your regular routines as much as possible, whether it's your morning walk, meditation, or other activities that bring you joy and comfort. Consistency can provide stability and a sense of control during what can be a potentially busy couple of months.
5. Take Time Out for Yourself and as a Couple: Amidst the hustle and bustle, make intentional time for self-care and quality moments with your partner. Whether it's a quiet evening at home, a walk under the stars, or a weekend getaway, prioritise activities that nurture your emotional well-being and strengthen your connection as a couple. Try to avoid fertility-related questions or conversations during this time and make new memories together or create your own festive traditions that involve just the two of you.
This may also be a good opportunity to switch off from social media and disconnect from the online world for a bit. This time of year anyone and everyone will be posting lots of photos of family get-togethers, travel or Santa photos with their kids. If this is all too much for you to see, turn off these apps until you feel comfortable again. Remember, that you're allowed to grieve, be jealous and have a cry. Letting out these emotions can feel good but try not to let your emotions take over and leave you hiding in bed for days. A good way to work through this is to set a time (maybe an hour or two or even a day) when you can allow yourself to feel, think and speak about everything that you are going through, feel the feels, feel numb, feel sad and then after the set time focus on finding joy or something that brings you joy to help you move forward.
6. Use the End of the Year to reflect on the Year Just Gone and Plan for the One Ahead: The end of the year is an excellent opportunity for reflection and goal-setting. Take time to acknowledge the challenges and successes of the past year. The key is not to put yourself down about not being pregnant just yet, and focus on what things did or didn't work over your TTC journey this year. What things do you want to continue or are happy to give up? Then set realistic and achievable goals for the upcoming year, both personally and on your journey to parenthood. Having a plan in place can instil a sense of hope and purpose as you move forward. It's hard sometimes to feel like TTC is taking over your life and holding you back, but when you set this aside in your mind don't be afraid to plan and do things for you. Book that holiday, change jobs, go for that promotion, adopt the puppy (actually, adopt all the puppies if you can!), and create new routines and habits that make you feel good about yourself and the body that you are in!
And as always, sending you love, luck and a sprinkle of baby dust over this holiday season!