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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 March 13, 2019

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

1. Work on the small tasks.

When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

2. Take a break from your work desk.

Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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3. Upgrade yourself

Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

4. Talk to a friend.

Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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6. Paint a vision to work towards.

If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

7. Read a book (or blog).

The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

8. Have a quick nap.

If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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9. Remember why you are doing this.

Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

10. Find some competition.

Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

11. Go exercise.

Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

12. Take a good break.

Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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