Family time is not just for Christmas

December 19, 2017

When you think of Christmas Day, what comes to mind? A mammoth roast turkey with all the trimmings, presents galore scattered beneath the tree, an afternoon nap in front of the TV or a reunion with your family (war over a game of Monopoly is optional)?

Family time tends to be at the forefront of our minds during the festive season, more so than at any other time of the year, but it might surprise you to learn that 1.5 million British adults only see their immediate family once a year – on Christmas Day.

A person holding a birthday cake

A recent study by Center Parcs found that one in three (36%) of us only see our parents once a year and a half (52%) of people see their siblings less than six times a year. Despite nine in ten (90%) people saying they like spending time with their families, 38% say it’s too difficult to regularly meet up, citing distance from each other, juggling busy diaries and lack of space as the main reasons.

However, the research found that Christmas is the time of the year when people do make the extra effort to arrange the logistics, with the average person starting to discuss plans on the 19th August and locking them in a whole two months before the big day. In fact, one in fifteen (7%) find it so difficult, they start planning where they will be for Christmas a year in advance.

Even though we happily go the extra mile to make sure we see our loved ones, we still don’t want to host the day, with 41% having refused to host Christmas at their house blaming the size of their house (16%) and the amount of work that goes in to hosting (10%) as the main reasons we’re not keen. And herein lies the problem…

There is so much pressure on families to have the ‘perfect’ Christmas, with expensive gifts, an Instagrammable tree and play happy families for a whole day, which can often end in family tensions running high. Sadly, parents and those who host the day often get so caught up in making sure everything runs smoothly, that they forget to sit back, have a sherry and take a moment to enjoy the day.

A close up of a decorated cake on a table

So, how can we stop everything hinging on Christmas Day?

Psychologist Emma Kenny says that quality time together as a family unit throughout the year – and not just at Christmas – is essential to mental wellbeing, with nine meetings a year the magic number for happiness.

Emma says; “Approximately nine meetings a year is – in my mind – the perfect amount for family togetherness. By meeting more than every two months we reduce the pressure that’s put on each gathering which means we look forward to it more, rather than feeling the pressure of the whole affair. And if a few people can’t make it that time, it doesn’t matter as another gathering is just around the corner.”

If you feel like you’d like to see your family more and want to avoid the stress, Emma has revealed her top tips for stress-free family gatherings:

  1. Meet semi-regularly
  2. Delegate responsibilities
  3. Have fun
  4. Get organised
  5. Take turns hosting

Find out how to get together again at:  

A glass display case, with Christmas Day

This post is brought to you from Center Parcs

Photo Credit: erin walker

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