There are often lots of family events and it is a time of reflection on what you have done and achieved throughout the year. This can be difficult as it puts so much focus on children, and it is difficult to avoid.
I found myself getting upset around Christmas time, and getting more so with each year that passed without getting pregnant. I saw Christmas as a milestone that I still didn’t have a baby. Every year I thought ‘next Christmas we’ll have a baby’, so it was hard when Christmas came, but there was still no baby.
This year more than ever, it is so important to focus on self-care and the things you do have, rather than the things you don’t. It is easier to cope with things when you are feeling stronger emotionally and taking care of yourself.
Think about how you can redefine Christmas time as a positive and exciting time with your partner, friends and family. Time off work, time with friends and time for self-care. A time for starting new traditions with your partner and friends, so that Christmas becomes a time to look forward to.
If you are struggling this Christmas please be kind to yourself and talk to someone that understands, so you can talk honestly about how you feel and get the support you need. I know it could be even more difficult than usual, but there are lots of people who can support you.
I wanted to share some tips to help you get through the Christmas holidays. I know how tough it can be, so take small steps and do what you need to do to get through it.
Allow yourself to feel however you feel, don’t beat yourself up over feeling sad/jealous/upset, it’s ok and perfectly normal to feel these things. Just acknowledge it and do things that make you feel nice and that make you smile.
Treat yourself to things that make you feel happy and good about yourself. This may be getting your nails done, having a beauty treatment, planning in meditation time each day, taking some time out on your own to read a good book or go for a walk, having a nice long lie in or taking part in your favourite hobby.
Christmas time is always a busy time of year, with buying presents, trying to see family, getting work complete before time off over Christmas, buying food and hosting visitors. Make sure you are planning time in for you to recharge your batteries in and amongst all the other commitments you have.
As you may have some time off work, use it to plan in nice trips, things as a couple or with friends that make you feel good — cinema, out for a meal, Christmassy markets. We all missed out on lots of things last year with all the restrictions, so think about some of the things you really enjoy doing and the people you enjoy spending time with, and get some things planned in.
At this time of year we often reflect of the things we still don't have in our lives, so this year think about the things you do have in your life. Write a thankful list for all the things in your life that are important/special that you are thankful for — close family, strong relationship, great friends, fulfilling job etc. It doesn’t have to be big things, it is just good to focus on the positive things.
Rather than organising nights out that focus on drinking, plan in going out for meals with friends where the focus is on food, or suggest doing something different to things you usually do, where drinking isn’t the focus – ice skating, bowling, going to the cinema, a day at the Christmas markets, etc. Think creatively about what you can do - walks with friends, smaller meet ups with different groups of friends, virtual quizzes/murder mystery's if your friends live further away...
If you do meet up with friends where the focus is on drinking (or when you want to hide the fact you are not drinking), look for non-alcoholic alternatives so can still feel like you are involved, order drinks that you can pretend have alcohol in or confide in a friend you can trust who can pretend to order alcoholic drinks for you (lemonade disguised as gin/vodka etc) or say you’re driving as you have a big family event the next day.
It could be for a Christmas get together, or just generally for over Christmas time. It doesn’t need to be expensive or a full outfit, it could be new earrings, a Christmas jumper, a new bag or shoes, etc. Something that will make you smile and feel good about yourself.
The planner helps you focus on the good things in your life, and it helps you plan some goals for the things you'd love to do. It supports you in focussing on your relationship and coping at this difficult time, and most of all it helps you feel happier and stronger, and more able to cope when you are feeling wobbly. Treat yourself to the planner as a little Christmas gift to yourself, so you can go in to the New Year feeling positive and looking forward to spending more time on yourself. Or you can add it to your Christmas list for your loved ones to buy for you.
Many people set new years resolutions, but find it difficult to follow them through - they are maybe something you feel you should be doing rather than want to do, or something difficult to achieve. Rather than a resolution think about what you would like to do next year or something you would like to achieve - a trip somewhere, starting a new course or a hobby, decorating a room at home. Think of this as outside of trying for a baby. Once you have thought about things you would like to achieve, you can make a list of actions about how you can achieve it, it will give you a focus and help you feel more in control of you life.
For example, family get togethers where there will be lots of babies/family asking when you will have a baby. If your close family know you are struggling to conceive you can explain that you find those events difficult at the minute and that you need to look after your emotional well being. If they don't know what you are going through, you could maybe make up an excuse as to why you can't go, if you would prefer that. Just remember it's ok to say no, to protect your emotional wellbeing!
You will always get some well intentioned (but not subtle) family member or friend asking this question at family gatherings. have a think about an answer beforehand so you are not caught out having to think on the spot. You can then reply and move on quickly. Something simple like ‘we’ll let you know when we have news to share’ or 'we're not ready for that just yet' will be fine and then just change the subject. Think about the level of detail you want to disclose and what you would feel comfortable saying.
Create a tradition as a couple or with your friends that you can continue over the years — like all going for dinner on a certain date in December, having a Christmas shopping trip where you go and have dinner out together somewhere, a group trip to the Christmas markets, breakfast together on Christmas Eve etc. This will help to make Christmas time about the memories you make with your friends and partner, rather than it all being about families.
It’s really important to look after yourself at Christmas time, but helping other people is a great way to make yourself feel good, keep busy and make a difference to someone else’s life. You could maybe visit someone elderly or lonely over Christmas, help out a charity or make Christmas boxes for the homeless, collect shopping for someone that is less able or help to wrap presents for elderly family members.
If you are having a bad day, call a friend or family member that understands and just say you are feeling sad and just need a hug or someone to listen to you. There are support groups that are a great source of support and understanding. I run a free private Facebook community that you are welcome to join called TTC Support UK. Please reach out if you are struggling, you are not alone and you will not be the only one feeling wobbly.
If you would like some extra support over Christmastime you can download my free booklet with tips and advice on getting through the festive period and some questions to help you create a plan to help make Christmas a time to enjoy.
Take care and have a lovely Christmas xx