This Christmas we should take the opportunity to put and treat ourselves first

LOOKING for presents down a crack in the internet, I came across something I wanted to buy for myself (self-gifting happens to me a lot).

It was a packet of pink cards with a glossy gold trim. They were blank permission slips to write to yourself – granting you the freedom to do such crazy things as “slow down” or “have a long bath.”

Before I had a baby I would have thought these were a cute idea, but not for me. They were the kind of thing only a wellness blogger would actually do, like keeping a gratitude journal or talking about their “self-care ritual” with a straight face. But now that I have a baby and taking a shower and brushing my teeth in the same day feels like a luxury, I can suddenly see the value in presenting yourself with a pass to put yourself first. 

Your self-hygiene is probably a bit more evolved than mine, but perhaps there is something you’re holding yourself back from without even realising it?

Eat, Pray, Love author Elizabeth Gilbert talks a lot about writing yourself “a permission slip from the principal’s office”. She says: “For some reason, and this just boggles my imagination, there are still just huge swathes of women who never got the memo that their lives belong to them.” I’m nearly 36 and I feel like I’m only just getting that memo.

I wish I’d given myself permission not to hate my body as a teenager. I could have used one of these pink slips during the many years it took me to start writing a book, waiting for someone else to tell me that I was “allowed” to be creative.

Even carving out the time to write this column – as the baby naps on my chest and the piles of dirty cups and clothes stack up – requires all sorts of mental gymnastics to justify it

While we might be skipping a lot of the traditions that usually mark out this particular time of year – from office Secret Santa to takeaway Christmas sandwiches – there is one thing yet to change, which is the pressure women (and it always seems to be women) put on ourselves to make it special.

’Tis the season to get stressed-out, do things you don’t really want to do and cater to everyone but yourself. 

Even when we’re not tying ourselves up in tinsel trying to be perfect, women do the bulk of household chores (according to the UN, women already do more than double the domestic work of their heterosexual partners).

The pandemic has meant even more emotional labour, and you can now add home-schooling, mask-remembering and queueing outside the supermarket to the mix.

This week I’m…

Eating… DabbaDrop

Zero-waste takeaways that come in reusable tins filled with vegan curries – yum!

Relaxing with… Mela

These weighted blankets have soothed my anxiety. Sounds weird, but it works! 

Listening to… Fetch The Bolt Cutters

Fiona Apple’s new album is just the thing when you want to stomp out your stress.

But on the plus side (and there has to be one, right?), I feel like Covid-19 has written the whole world one big permission slip to do Christmas a little differently in 2020. Maybe this year we can take the opportunity to ditch those things that don’t serve us. 

What would Christmas look like if someone wrote you a permission slip not to stuff the turkey or embroider your children’s stockings on Christmas Eve? A bit more joyful, maybe? 

Perhaps this is actually the perfect time to forge new festive traditions instead. Like eating an entire tin of Quality Street in the bath. It’s OK, don’t worry. I have a permission slip. Signed by yours truly.

  • Follow Kate on Instagram @katewillswrites.

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