Taking On The Mental Load Of Christmas Has Left Me With Festive Burnout

New year, new start, new resolutions, old burnout caused by a bigger than ever mental load.

Yep, Christmas may be well and truly over, but I still have festive burnout big time and I’m pretty sure I am not the only one.

Like many adults/parents/mothers around the world, Christmas is a special time of year for us. But in reality, once we become these other titles, it is more about making it a special time for others. While that is a beautiful feeling and one most of us wish to never lose, it is still utterly exhausting.

In my case, the festivity of Christmas began a long time before the big man found his way down the chimney or we celebrated the other big man’s day of birth.

It began at the first sight of a Christmas tree, advent calendar and decorations in the shops, months before. That's not only when my two children realised that their favourite time of year was approaching, it was also time that I started to receive the lists of ‘gift ideas’ from them.

Shona's family during the Christmas period. Image: Supplied

Although this seemed a bit presumptuous, really it was a good prompt that I would need to actually start thinking about not only their gifts, but everyone else’s I would need to purchase, including those from Santa and those for myself.

So I added to my children’s wish lists ideas for family members, friends, colleagues, Kris Kringle, my cats and my goats, in hope that I would be organised and avoid the chaos of the pre-Christmas week rush (and mostly that I just didn’t forget anyone, like I had the year before -- sorry Aunty Barb).

Then of course, as the school year winded down the Christmas concerts, school carols, end of year parties and every other type of celebration known to mankind was also scheduled in.

This is when I found myself juggling my own work calendar and the general Christmas organisation schedule to ensure that I was at each of these events fulfilling my parental duties, smiling and singing along.

Shona Hendley


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Christmas -- the time of year where family are brought together from far and wide to celebrate the festive season.

And just when I thought that with the end of school and the end of work that I may actually have time to breathe, instead, as this year’s Christmas host, I was faced with the overwhelming task of getting my house not looking like a bomb had just exploded upon it so my family would actually think I had my sh*t together (which I do not).

When you live on a five-acre property that hasn’t been mowed in two months, one day is gone in jungle taming, leaving only three to wrap all the presents, do the grocery shopping, cook the food, and clean the house to remove the mess you have made in the process of doing all the other tasks you had to do. Oh and to be ‘thrilled’ that Christmas is nearly here.

Then along came Christmas Eve, where the memories of excitement and magical wonder from childhood were now firmly replaced by extreme level anxiety of being caught in the Santa act. As I waited for hours to ensure both children were fully asleep, I packed Elfie (our Elf on the Shelf) away, nibbled on a carrot, tipped Santa’s milk down the sink and ate the shortbread while leaving crumbs behind on the plate.

Shona and her husband. Image: Supplied

Then I recruited my husband to complete the most covert of missions -- Santa delivery. In order to reduce all possible risk, I insisted my husband and I try and coordinate bringing the presents from our upstairs hiding spot to downstairs by torch light because I was adamant turning on an actual light may wake the kids. Life threatening -- yes, but essential none the less.

Successfully making it to the next day with limited sleep from my heightened level of adrenaline from our Mission Impossible Christmas operation, I was awoken at 5am by two wide eyed children who could not be denied.

With the Oscar worthy performance of OTT excitement in attempt to match the level of our children, we watched them unwrap their presents, while secretly counting down to the time we could dash to the kitchen to make ourselves the strongest coffee possible.

While also in the back of my mind I remembered the bloody bin schedule had changed and bin night was Christmas night -- so don’t forget to put the bins out Shona!



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Once the mess of shredded wrapping paper, toy packages and the peeling off of sticky tape from the living room rug had been completed, we soon welcomed our guests.

While family are always appreciated and loved, by this point in the day all I truly wanted was a stiff drink and a nap because I knew that for the next week catching up with other family and friends for Boxing Day, New Years and every other festivity that is now jammed into the week where no one knows what day it is, will soon be here.

Now as I stand here at the end of the festive season, barely upright and more exhausted -- physically, emotionally and socially, than I have felt in a long time, I can see exactly why I have festive burnout and why I am in much need of an actual holiday (cos this festive season definitely ain’t one).

Featured image: Supplied