Looking after your family’s wellbeing at Christmas

The end of another school year, quality time with family and friends and maybe a well-deserved break from work – there is a lot to look forward to at Christmas.

But the end of the year can also be a challenging time for families. Financial pressure, holiday preparations and busier-than-usual social calendars mean that emotions can run high. If your family has experienced a loss or considerable change throughout the year, this could be felt strongly at Christmas.

Here are some tips to help you navigate this time of year:

1. Plan ahead with your family

Schedule a sit down with your family to map out everyone’s commitments (non-negotiable) and aspirations for the coming months. If this is too much, stagger it out and hold a series of family meetings over the coming weeks.

Create a timetable that includes every member of the family and consider displaying it on a wall. Knowing what to expect helps children feel calmer and more comfortable and will cut down on any stressful, last-minute panic.

Look for opportunities for your children to express their aspirations for the Christmas period. What are two things they would like to do? Finding appropriate ways to provide children with choice and control can help them through the busier, ‘less fun’ aspects of holidays.

2. Let go of perfection

Trying to achieve a ‘picture-perfect’ Christmas and holiday season for yourself and your family can lead to anxiousness and being overwhelmed. Consider whether you are placing unrealistic or unnecessary demands on yourself. Do you have a picture in your mind of what Christmas should look like?

Challenging yourself to let go of expectations might mean saying no to a couple of social invitations, using last year’s table decorations instead of buying new ones or sticking to a tried-and-true recipe instead of attempting a new one you saw on Instagram. Things don’t have to be perfect for Christmas to be enjoyable.



If your family is going through a challenging time, our specialist Practitioners offer free or low cost, solution-focused counselling and support in a safe and caring space.

Depending on your needs, we can help you to:

  • explore effective coping strategies
  • process feelings of grief, loss and loneliness
  • develop strategies to manage conflict
  • improve communication and build positive relationships
  • develop positive parenting strategies.

Our services are available over the phone and in a range of locations throughout South East Queensland.

3. Ask for help 

You don’t need to do everything yourself. Find a way to ask for help from those around you. If you’re hosting family or friends, why not ask everyone to bring their favourite dish or snack? Make a holiday ‘to do’ list and allocate responsibilities to members of the family, including age-appropriate jobs for the children.

If navigating school holidays feels stressful, talk to other families about sharing the load with car-pooling arrangements or sleepovers, for example. Have you considered vacation care – even if for a day or two per week? Catholic Early EdCare offers vacation care at 89 locations for children from prep to grade six.

4. Allow space for big emotions

The first Christmas after a significant family change can be very difficult. Maybe you and your family have lost someone special who will be missed this Christmas, or maybe your family circumstances have changed throughout the year?

It’s important to make space for big feelings such as sadness, anxiety, loneliness and even anger. Know that it’s okay to feel those emotions. And while putting on a brave face for others might be important, make sure you create time and space for feeling and processing. Talking about things together in an age-appropriate way is important, and sharing your thoughts and feelings may help you all feel closer. It’s okay to have a cry together if needed.

Other services to support families throughout the Christmas period:

Lifeline                                               13 11 14

Kids Helpline                                     1800 55 1800

1800RESPECT                                    1800 737 732

Family Relationships Advice Line    1800 050 321