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Why Christmas Shopping is More Stressful Than Parenting

Why Christmas Shopping is More Stressful Than Parenting

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. Everywhere you go, you get a whiff of desperation as shoppers rush to their nearest retail mall, fight over precious parking spots, then aimlessly spend the next few hours wandering and wondering what to get for each of the family members and relatives who are probably doing exactly the same thing.

This excruciating ritual has become such that I can think of many reasons why it is more stressful than parenting (I have both a six-year-old and a four-year-old). Here are just three:

1. A covert operation vs an overt confrontation

Christmas shopping would be a whole lot easier if each family member and relative told you exactly what he/she wanted and, more importantly, what he/she is expecting from every other family member and relative. Unfortunately, it NEVER works that way, as every adult will bashfully decline to tell you what she wants and every child will forcefully tell you to get the same toy that he has told everyone else to get.

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You are then left with a covert assignment, trying to ascertain what everyone wants for Christmas through third-party intelligence. Fail this assignment and you will spend even longer time after Christmas, rummaging for lost receipts and returning/exchanging gifts that you spent so long getting in the first place.

When it comes to parenting, however, there is nothing covert about anything. Your kids will tell you exactly what they want and don’t want at all times, often with extreme prejudice and emotional force. While this can, at times, make a grown woman cry and a grown man lose his hair, at least you know exactly where you stand at all times and can decide whether to fight head-on or flee high-tailed.

2. Christmas shopping doesn’t nap, nor go to school

No matter how stressful parenting is, you always get that time-out when the children are at school or in bed. However, Christmas shopping, or the nagging feeling that you need to get off your butt to go do so, is in your face 24/7 at this time of the year.

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TV and radio bombard you with jingles hypnotizing you to go and spend. The World Wide Web showers you with so many Christmas gift ideas that you half wish for the return of those Viagra and singles-dating pop-ups, just for a change. Heck, you can’t even go for a run out in the open without seeing a Christmas shopping billboard every 200m reminding you how pathetically empty the bottom of your Christmas tree is!

To make matters worse, as you get closer to the Day, those children who are usually at school are suddenly not, waking those at home who normally take naps, but are suddenly skipping them. Before you know it, you have to tackle the challenge of Christmas shopping with your hyperactive and/or cranky kids in tow.

3. Financial stress from frivolous spending

From the moment your kids are born, you are mentally prepared for the financial burden that comes with parenthood. Sure, if one actually bothered to sit down and do the sums on how much it costs to raise a child until he leaves home, it would drive him to drink until the kid actually leaves home. But your unadulterated love for your children means you don’t think twice about the money aspect of bringing them up.

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Christmas shopping, on the other hand, consists largely of one load of frivolous spending after another, buying presents you are not quite sure the recipients would like or need, with money you are pretty sure you don’t have but always need. Then you get the credit card statement the following January and trudge back to work knowing exactly why you are doing so.

It’s the thought that counts

Or so they say… but the whole meaning of Christmas, it seems to me, has been lost amid this frenzied materialistic consumerism. So much so that it is not the “thought” but the “dough” that counts.

I shared this revelation with my wife yesterday and her response was “Don’t be cheap, and go and get the Christmas shopping done”. I said the same thing to one of my friends and his response was “Have you been drinking?

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So, I decided to take my 6-year-old and 4-year-old sons to go Christmas shopping. Challenging as they were to control in the crowded shopping mall, we had such a great time hanging out together, having so much fun that I forgot why we were there in the first place. Then I remembered when I saw a Christmas tree with gazillion little wrapped boxes under it in front of a glitzy department store. Sigh…

Featured photo credit:  Child Afraid of Santa Claus via Shutterstock

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Last Updated on September 18, 2020

7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

Learning how to get in shape and set goals is important if you’re looking to live a healthier lifestyle and get closer to your goal weight. While this does require changes to your daily routine, you’ll find that you are able to look and feel better in only two weeks.

Over the years, I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to get in shape. Although anyone can cover the basics (eat right and exercise), there are some things that I could only learn through trial and error. Let’s cover some of the most important points for how to get in shape in two weeks.

1. Exercise Daily

It is far easier to make exercise a habit if it is a daily one. If you aren’t exercising at all, I recommend starting by exercising a half hour every day. When you only exercise a couple times per week, it is much easier to turn one day off into three days off, a week off, or a month off.

If you are already used to exercising, switching to three or four times a week to fit your schedule may be preferable, but it is a lot harder to maintain a workout program you don’t do every day.

Be careful to not repeat the same exercise routine each day. If you do an intense ab workout one day, try switching it up to general cardio the next. You can also squeeze in a day of light walking to break up the intensity.

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If you’re a morning person, check out these morning exercises that will start your day off right.

2. Duration Doesn’t Substitute for Intensity

Once you get into the habit of regular exercise, where do you go if you still aren’t reaching your goals? Most people will solve the problem by exercising for longer periods of time, turning forty-minute workouts into two hour stretches. Not only does this drain your time, but it doesn’t work particularly well.

One study shows that “exercising for a whole hour instead of a half does not provide any additional loss in either body weight or fat”[1].

This is great news for both your schedule and your levels of motivation. You’ll likely find it much easier to exercise for 30 minutes a day instead of an hour. In those 30 minutes, do your best to up the intensity to your appropriate edge to get the most out of the time.

3. Acknowledge Your Limits

Many people get frustrated when they plateau in their weight loss or muscle gaining goals as they’re learning how to get in shape. Everyone has an equilibrium and genetic set point where their body wants to remain. This doesn’t mean that you can’t achieve your fitness goals, but don’t be too hard on yourself if you are struggling to lose weight or put on muscle.

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Acknowledging a set point doesn’t mean giving up, but it does mean realizing the obstacles you face.

Expect to hit a plateau in your own fitness results[2]. When you expect a plateau, you can manage around it so you can continue your progress at a more realistic rate. When expectations meet reality, you can avoid dietary crashes.

4. Eat Healthy, Not Just Food That Looks Healthy

Know what you eat. Don’t fuss over minutia like whether you’re getting enough Omega 3’s or tryptophan, but be aware of the big things. Look at the foods you eat regularly and figure out whether they are healthy or not. Don’t get fooled by the deceptively healthy snacks just pretending to be good for you.

The basic nutritional advice includes:

  • Eat unprocessed foods
  • Eat more veggies
  • Use meat as a side dish, not a main course
  • Eat whole grains, not refined grains[3]

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Eat whole grains when you want to learn how to get in shape.

    5. Watch Out for Travel

    Don’t let a four-day holiday interfere with your attempts when you’re learning how to get in shape. I don’t mean that you need to follow your diet and exercise plan without any excursion, but when you are in the first few weeks, still forming habits, be careful that a week long break doesn’t terminate your progress.

    This is also true of schedule changes that leave you suddenly busy or make it difficult to exercise. Have a backup plan so you can be consistent, at least for the first month when you are forming habits.

    If travel is on your schedule and can’t be avoided, make an exercise plan before you go[4], and make sure to pack exercise clothes and an exercise mat as motivation to keep you on track.

    6. Start Slow

    Ever start an exercise plan by running ten miles and then puking your guts out? Maybe you aren’t that extreme, but burnout is common early on when learning how to get in shape. You have a lifetime to be healthy, so don’t try to go from couch potato to athletic superstar in a week.

    If you are starting a running regime, for example, run less than you can to start. Starting strength training? Work with less weight than you could theoretically lift. Increasing intensity and pushing yourself can come later when your body becomes comfortable with regular exercise.

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    7. Be Careful When Choosing a Workout Partner

    Should you have a workout partner? That depends. Workout partners can help you stay motivated and make exercising more fun. But they can also stop you from reaching your goals.

    My suggestion would be to have a workout partner, but when you start to plateau (either in physical ability, weight loss/gain, or overall health) and you haven’t reached your goals, consider mixing things up a bit.

    If you plateau, you may need to make changes to continue improving. In this case it’s important to talk to your workout partner about the changes you want to make, and if they don’t seem motivated to continue, offer a thirty day break where you both try different activities.

    I notice that guys working out together tend to match strength after a brief adjustment phase. Even if both are trying to improve, something seems to stall improvement once they reach a certain point. I found that I was able to lift as much as 30-50% more after taking a short break from my regular workout partner.

    Final Thoughts

    Learning how to get in shape in as little as two weeks sounds daunting, but if you’re motivated and have the time and energy to devote to it, it’s certainly possible.

    Find an exercise routine that works for you, eat healthy, drink lots of water, and watch as the transformation begins.

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    Featured photo credit: Alexander Redl via unsplash.com

    Reference

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