I love Christmas!  Regardless of your religious beliefs, it is genuinely a time of family joy and togetherness.   However, unlike previous years when I’ve finished work a good few days before the big day, this year I finish on the 23rd and I’m feeling the pinch.  Having two kids who are 3 and 1 to care for when you’ve already got a million and one things to do can be tough.  It doesn’t help that we both work in demanding professions.  To give you an idea I left the house at 7:30am yesterday and returned at 11:30pm.  Obviously something has to give.


Unfortunately, for us, what sometimes gives is our precious outdoor time.  Factor in the dark winter nights and we seem to be fighting a losing battle at this time of year.  I’m sure many of you share these feelings; it’s tough going.  So, what can we do to ensure that we get a good of dose of Vitamin N over this relentless period of family get-togethers and food and drink gorging?  Simple: go easy on yourself and, if you can get out, plan ahead.


Go Easy On Yourself


We had a conversation the other night about going easy on ourselves.  Sometimes we’re our own biggest critics and can find faults where none exist.  When I’m not feeling confined by cabin fever at this time of year, ready to pull strands of hair from someone’s head, I can, during short moments of relaxation and clarity, reflect that overall we don’t do a bad job.


I look back on 2016 and consider all of the things we’ve done with the kids and it makes me smile.  Like you, I need to remember to do this from time to time, otherwise we’ll spend much of the festive period beating ourselves up for being fat and bloated and stuck in front of the TV for yet another grim-reaping Deadenders Christmas Special.  Christmas comes but once a year; so what if we don’t get out every single day of the holidays?  Enjoy your time as a festive slob.  Just don’t get too used to it!


If you do manage to get outside over Christmas, make sure you plan ahead.  By planning ahead you’ll be able to identify some opportunities for some quality, uninterrupted down-time.  Nat and I had a brief chat in the kitchen this morning while we were busy prepping meals for the day ahead.  We verbally agreed (if your house is anything like ours, a verbal agreement is bound by law!) that there were opportunities to be had on Christmas Eve afternoon and Boxing Day morning.  Setting these times in stone is important because, family being family (we love you all really), people (often in hordes) can just drop round unannounced at this time of year.  Like a plague of locusts they’ll not only eat away at your outdoor time, they’ll devour your chocolate reserves too.  You have been warned!


Keep It Simple


The next thing you can do is keep things simple.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m planning a good couple of more adventurous hikes during my much-needed time off, but they’re for another day.  In the small number of days that envelop the festive period, with pot bellies, hangovers and excitable critters to deal with, no parent wants to risk anything remotely off-piste.  As such, make the most of your local parks and forests.  And, if you do decide to take a drive out somewhere, keep the destination and terrain simple.


Sometimes a couple of hours of fresh air are all you need to redress the balance.  Our Christmas Eve walk, for instance, will definitely be a local one.  We’ll still have so much still to do that evening that anything more would be foolish.  However, hangover permitting, it will be nice to get a few miles under our vastly loosened belts on Boxing Day when time is less of an issue.  We’ll take new toys with us to keep the kids engaged, maybe even recreating some classic battles between superheroes and super villains en-route.


Above all have a great time as a family.  Eat, drink and be merry.  Remember you’ve got the whole of 2017 to enjoy the outdoors so, unless it’s going to be both feasible and enjoyable, don’t attempt to cram it all into just a few days of festive mayhem.  However, if you do manage to escape outdoors, remember to tag us in your festive adventures over on Instagram.  So, from us to you, have a very merry Christmas and an adventurous New Year.

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