Living · Spoonie Parenting

Surviving – and enjoying – the holidays when you have a chronic illness

I would love to able to say that I am mega-super-organised at this time of year; that I have bought and wrapped my presents, menu planned and arranged exciting Christmas crafts for the kids, so I can sit back, relax and crack open the mulled wine.  But the reality is that I have done some shopping and coerced the kids into helping me make some OMS-friendly Christmas pudding, but that is it.

I love this time of year – warm fires, hot chocolate, watching Christmas films with the family – but whereas in the past I also aspired to be the perfect host, this year, I am more laid back about it.  To be honest, I just haven’t got the energy.  There’s too much to think about – plays, Christmas fayres, discos, parties…  so I have decided not to beat myself up about it and to instead focus on what is really important – time with the family, making memories and just enjoying myself.

My personal prescription for a relaxing-as-possible holiday season ironically relies a lot on organisation; but it is the kind of organisation that will allow me to make the most of what little energy I have and hopefully save me some spoons too.

Plan and Choose Wisely – with everything going on I know than I am going to be even more exhausted.  Hence the need to carefully think about what we have been invited to, about what is a non-negotiable for me and to make a conscious decision about what I am going to have to say ‘no’ to.  One of the hardest things is saying no to something that in the past I would have loved to have done… but I know that sometimes that one extra night out wth friends can floor me for days.  I know that my good friends would understand if I can’t always make it out.  A big part of planning and choosing wisely is also….

Rest and Indulgence – I’m not going to lie, as things get busier, I just crave more and more ‘me’ time.  I recently used up a voucher that I received for my birthday for a local beauty salon.  Let me just say: facial + pedicure = bliss.  I’d love to go more often – alas, money doesn’t allow – but then I remind myself of all my ‘at home’ beauty treatments and I plan to treat myself over the coming weeks.  This lavender eye pillow has recently caught my eye… hint, hint Hubs….

Mindfully enjoying the (little) moments – I have been meditating using the Headspace app for the past couple of years, but have to admit that I have lapsed somewhat over the past couple of months. I am aware, though, that although it is easy for me dwell on how difficult things are for me at the moment, I feel so much better when I just take the time to enjoy the little things; meditating helps me to stop focusing on the bad stuff and take a step back from it all.  I have recently had the pleasure of reading my friend Hayley’s blog, Misson:Mindfulness. Hayley’s blog made me reconnect with Headspace, take a step back from the stress and just stop and think of how lucky I am.  Yes, I may have a chronic illness that impacts on every aspect of my life, but I also have a beautiful family, a lovely home and brilliant friends.  I appreciate this so much – and I look forward to enjoying all the memory-making moments that are sure to arise this holiday.

Family time – this is one of my ‘non-negotiables’.  Its really important to me that the kids remember Christmas with fondness.  What is better than snuggling up together with a good movie and popcorn?  Days out can be energy-sapping for me, but do I love it when we make the effort to go somewhere we haven’t been before and I can watch the kids have fun at adventure playgrounds and exploring.  Bittersweet, because I will be watching them from my scooter instead of climbing and playing with them, but worth it for taking a break from the norm.

‘Elf’ – the ultimate Christmas movie

Keeping it easy – This year, everything is going to be as fuss-free as possible.  Online shopping for gifts, preparing things in advance… I am lucky to have such an excellent cook for a husband, as he is happy to leave me to the ‘little’ jobs, that I enjoy doing (home made cranberry sauce, anyone?) and that don’t take much effort.  I find that if I take my time and choose wisely, I can usually manage to cook up some OMS friendly treats (I love this recipe for low fat gingerbread biscotti).

The feel good factor – from within – something that has become a Christmas tradition since having kids is sitting down with them at the computer to choose a charity to give to.  Last year, we bought mosquito nets and school supplies from Oxfam Unwrapped, the year before we donated to Water Aid and this year we will be giving to the Yemen crisis via Save the Children.  No matter how crap I feel about my situation, it does not compare to what these families are going through.  I want the children to know that it is always important to think of others less fortunate than themselves.

So, I’m not quite there yet with the present buying, but since starting to write this post, we have got our tree up and it is all starting to feel a bit more Christmassy.  I can’t guarantee that I won’t be shattered and in need of a good rest by the time the kids are back at school in the new year, but I do know that if I stick to my plan above, I will at least enjoy getting so exhausted!

Wishing everyone a lovely holiday season.



6 thoughts on “Surviving – and enjoying – the holidays when you have a chronic illness

  1. Ooo I hope you get the lavender eye pillow – B has chosen a charity for us to give some money to this year instead of doing cards and it was really sweet to see his thought process about reasons for donating to worthy causes. Thanks so much for the blog’s mention – so pleased you find Mindfulness a help. Enjoy this crazy but fun time. xx

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Aww great post Jen with some fab tips! It’s all the things I’m trying to remind myself to do this year – especially not trying to be perfect, taking a step back and remembering the things that are important! I’ve had to cancel loads of stuff in the run up to Christmas this year, and like you I’m not very organised, but I’m trying not to be bothered by it! Spending time with family and being as well rested as possible is what is most important! A very Happy Christmas to you and your family xxx

    Liked by 1 person

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