How To Reduce The Overwhelm Of Christmas

gender equality healthy relationships mental load
3 ways to share the mental load this Festive Season


Have you ever paused to consider the Mental Load of Christmas?

The mental load of organising events, travel plans, presents, holidays…

It’s no wonder we can feel overwhelmed and stressed during what is supposed to be a joyous season when we consider all that needs to be done:

  • Deciding who will be where and when
  • Organising travel plans
  • Working out what to buy for everyone
  • Sourcing the presents
  • Making sure there’s enough wrapping paper (a problem often only discovered at 9pm on Christmas Eve)
  • Planning and preparing meals
  • Oh, first checking for any dietary requirements
  • Decorating the house
  • Creating family memories, yearly Santa photos, Advent calendars
  • Arranging/organising work/school/kindy/street parties, concerts, Secret Santas, decorations etc etc etc
  • All the emotional labour and mental load that goes into celebrating Christmas and the end of another year (goodbye 2020) is largely borne by… yes, you guessed it, women!

And on top of all this Christmas-related stuff, the usual things that we think about and organise on a regular basis throughout the year still need to be done, and now have a deadline! Little jobs from mowing the lawn to cleaning out the fridge now must all be done before December 25th.


So what can you do to reduce this mental overwhelm?


At the Mental Load Project I always advocate the 3 D’s: Do, Drop and Divide.

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Do basically means stop procrastinating. Lots of our mental load is taken up remembering little things like RSVP-ing to an event or replying to a message. Reduce this mental load just by doing straight away or jotting it down on a piece of paper to be done later that day.

Drop means just that – drop that task, don’t do it, forget about it. Drop is particularly relevant for Christmas. We can all get caught up in doing things, attending events, making stuff just because everyone else seems to be doing it. Christmas for each family will be different – work out the priorities and values for you and your family. Drop the things that aren’t important to you.

Divide means to share tasks with your partner (and children if they’re older). Note, this is Divide not Delegate. Delegate by its very meaning suggests that someone (i.e. the woman) has the master plan and then is asking others to “help.” Dividing means actually handing over whole tasks – planning as well as execution – to someone else. Buying presents for your in-laws? Planning the entire Christmas meal? Organising Christmas outfits for the kids? Work out entire jobs that can be planned and executed by other people and allow them full responsibility for it.

And finally, schedule in some gifts of me-time and other treats that please you. Christmas should be enjoyable for all – including women!


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