Welcome back to Sarah Louise and thank you for popping by. I’m still amazed people are reading this blog and liking my posts; it means a lot.
Last weekend, I travelled down south to Cambridgeshire to celebrate one nephew’s third birthday and the other one’s Christening. I relish weekends like this because family time is one of my highest priorities. Huge celebrations bring together family and friends from far and wide, and are some of my favourite weekends of the year. However, as someone who suffers from anxiety, being around lots of family members can also be quite daunting and overwhelming. As the youngest sibling, I usually get picked on (all in love) and there are guaranteed conversations of, “How’s everything going?” And “What are you up to these days?” several times with several different relatives. I adore my family and usually do not mind these kind of conversations, yet sometimes, I find myself seeking out a quiet corner where I can be in my own space without anyone coming up to me; what can I say? I’m an introvert at heart.
Before I appear too cynical and miserable, let me explain exactly what the weekend consisted of. Firstly, we went to a soft place centre called ‘Giggle Wiggle’ (need I say more?) where 20+ small children were running, laughing and generally having a jolly good time climbing through plastic tunnels and diving into a pile of tiny, colourful balls. To my nephew’s delight, I was more than willing to run around like an overgrown child, playing hide-and-seek and racing down the slides. Following this, we all trooped to a beautiful barn in the countryside – Manor Farm – to set up for the Christening. After a few hours of diligently arranging flowers and hanging bunting, we took our cold toes to our Premier Inn hotel to check in for the night.
Evening came and we had a scrumptious meal at the Wyboston Lakes’ restaurant, Ride Leisure. They had stayed open late just for us and it was a truly wonderful evening. I ordered a pepperoni pizza, which was bigger than my bed! Well, maybe not that big, but you get the point; it was big.
On the Sunday, we had the continental breakfast at the Premier Inn – hello pastries and pancakes – then went to the church for Ollie’s Christening. I had my little shadow, Jack, with me the entire time and I loved it. He even came up to stand by my side when I sang (‘The Virgin Slumber Song’). After the Christening, it was back to the barn to eat tiny food, make small talk and entertain children.
Now that you are aware of what the weekend entailed, here are my tips of how to survive a weekend with your family.
1. Find the nearest baby and snuggle on down with it. Baby duty may not be for everyone but I would highly recommend it as a way of keeping your hands tied to avoid more strenuous tasks. Not only are babies super squishy, with a delightful smell (I’m currently working on my new perfume Eau de Baby – keep your eyes peeled for that one), they can make a person feel happy just by holding them. In fact, if you’re a mother, being around your baby triggers the release of oxytocin – the ‘ love drug’ – so surely that must work on people like me, who are permanently broody and love babies. When large families gather, there’s usually at least one baby, so make sure you grab one when you’re feeling stressed for a quick cuddle, and feel the tension release from your body. The best thing is, you can give the baby back to its parents when they cry.
2. Eat as much free food as you can. At family events there is always free food, and sometimes free drinks. To avoid those awkward conversations at the table, hover around the food and just keep eating. Firstly,you’re kept busy and secondly, you have a mouth full of food so you can’t possibly hold a conversation.
3. Deep breaths and remind yourself of how great you are. Ok, so the first two may have been a bit silly but this one is something that really does help with social anxiety. When you start to feel panicky, take some deep breaths and say some affirmations to yourself, or recite some scripture that encourages you. Then, remember the acronym FORD:
F – Family
O – Occupation
R – Recreation
D – Dreams
This is Joe’s conversation trick that ensures an easy flow of chatter without any anxiety. Next time you’re feeling socially anxious and don’t want the attention on you, rather than hiding in a corner, try the FORD trick and see if it makes talking to distant family and friends any easier.
Overall, it was a wonderful weekend and I was reminded of how important family is.
That’s all for now,
Sarah Louise x
1. What are you tips for dealing with large family gatherings?
2. What’s your favourite kind of family event?