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Top ten tips for a healthy, happy family Christmas

Media release from Barnardos New Zealand

Top ten tips from Barnardos for a healthy, happy family Christmas!

Christmas is just around the corner, and most of us are feeling the stress already – there’s so much to buy, so much to do, and so many people to keep happy. This year, Barnardos, New Zealand’s leading provider of children’s services, is bringing it back to basics with ten simple tips to keep your family healthy and happy over the festive season.

We’ll be sharing the tips with all our fans on our Facebook page in the run-up to Christmas day – it’s a timely reminder to take a breath and keep things simple. For families who need further support, at this or any other time of year, Barnardos is on hand to help: http://www.barnardos.org.nz/our-services/services

Top ten tips

1. Create family traditions

Children don’t remember what they received at Christmas – they remember how they felt. So start Christmas traditions early with your children – they’ll appreciate it. The traditions can be whatever is important to your family, whether that’s heading to church, going to the beach or watching a favourite Christmas movie.

Further info: There are some good ideas for creating personal family Christmas traditions here: http://www.kidspot.com.au/Christmas/Christmas-traditions-Create-family-traditions-Create-personal-family-Christmas-traditions+3728+659+article.htm

2. Share the task of Christmas lunch

Getting Christmas lunch ready on your own can be really stressful. Give each member of the family a task to do – for example, a young child can help with preparing the veggies. And if you’re having family or friends over, ask everyone to bring a plate to share the load.

Further info: KidSpot has some helpful advice on easing the stress and cost around Christmas cooking: http://www.kidspot.co.nz/christmas/article+2893+526+Christmas-menu-planning.htm

3. Start a Christmas decoration collection

Why not let your child choose a Christmas decoration each year? They’ll love to watch the collection grow, and when they eventually leave home, they’ll have a great selection of decorations to take with them and remind them of childhood Christmases.

Further info: There are a few simple things that our children need to grow into happy, capable adults – you can read about them here: http://www.skip.org.nz/information-for-parents/six-things-children-need/index.html

4. Avoid Christmas tree dangers with small children

Playpens aren’t just to put babies in! They’re also the safest place to put your Christmas tree if you have small children. It separates the tree from the rest of the room and prevents crawlers and toddlers getting their hands on the decorations and lights.

Further info: Plunket has a wealth of information on keeping your little ones safe throughout the year: http://www.plunket.org.nz/your-child/safety/home-safety/

5. Get physical!

A ball game in the garden or at the park is a great way to pass the time happily together and diffuse stress. It also means the kids can let off some steam if they’re feeling overexcited.

Further info: Even really young kids can enjoy physical play. Plunket has some good ideas for fun outdoor and indoor activities: https://www.plunket.org.nz/your-child/2-5-years/play-and-learning/active-movement-for-young-children/

6. Set an affordable cost limit for presents.

If you have an extended family who tend to compete over gift giving, why not suggest a reasonable cost limit for gifts? This can reduce stress over Christmas spending.

Further info: If you’re worried about money, Family Budgeting Services can help: http://www.familybudgeting.org.nz/

7. Don’t go into debt.

It’s so easy to overspend at Christmas, and it makes for a stressful January with lots of debts to repay. So get creative about gifts – a handmade gift or baking can mean so much more than something from the mall, and making gifts is something your family can enjoy doing together.

Further info: NZ Women’s Weekly has a heap of ideas for Christmas gifts the kids can make: http://www.nzwomansweekly.co.nz/christmas/christmas-family/christmas-gifts-the-kids-can-make-2/

8. Limit the alcohol

Try to limit the amount of alcohol available – it’s so easy to overindulge, but the consequences can be dire. Make sure there’s at least one sober adult to look after the children and keep them safe.

Further info: Refresh your memory on how much alcohol is in a standard drink: http://www.cheers.org.nz/standard-drinks/

If you are worried about your own or someone else’s drinking, you can get support from the Health Promotion Agency at http://www.alcohol.org.nz/.

9. Blended and separated families

If you’re from a separated or blended family, encourage your children to talk openly about their concerns around Christmas. Many children worry about how to please both parents and they may be feeling anxious about this. Listen respectfully, share your thoughts and reassure them. Think about having two dates to celebrate Christmas with both sides of the family rather than having to rush from one family to the next on Christmas day.

Further info: Here’s a great piece on how to deal with the holiday season as a blended family: http://www.stuff.co.nz/life-style/life/9421397/Stepfamilies-and-holidays. If you need further support, Barnardos offers a Parenting Through Separation course: http://www.barnardos.org.nz/service/parenting-through-separation

10. Take an adult “Time Out”

Time out isn’t just for the kids! We all have family members who can push our buttons, so if someone is making you angry or stressed over Christmas, make a conscious decision to put yourself in time out before the situation spins out of control. Take a breath.

Further info: Some good advice on dealing with those tricky rellies here: http://family.lovetoknow.com/about-family-values/how-deal-difficult-family-members.

If you need some additional support around family relationships problems, Relationships Aotearoa can help: http://www.relationships.org.nz/

About Barnardos New Zealand

Barnardos is New Zealand’s leading provider of children’s services. It helps thousands of children, young people and families each year, with services such as parenting courses, family support, counselling and supervised contact. We also work directly with children who have experienced family violence, provide residential and foster care, and support 0800 What’s Up, New Zealand’s largest dedicated child helpline.

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