Christmas is just a few weeks away and families are busy with shopping, preparations for school music concerts, house decorating, baking traditional family recipes and visiting family and friends! For many, it is a time of year filled with joy and good will, opportunities to spend time in conversation with those who are not a part of the week-to-week activities in our lives. It is also a time of expectation – of seeing the delight on the faces of children as they open gifts they have been longing for….welcoming new members to the family circle whether it be a new baby or a new boyfriend/girlfriend or partner/spouse.

However, this time of year can also be extremely difficult if we are forced into socializing with people we don’t see often or with people that we feel uncomfortable being around. Work-related gatherings can also be anxiety-provoking and stressful!

Sarah is finding this year particularly difficult as she recently left her husband of 10 years and is facing the realities of celebrating Christmas as a single parent for the first time. Between working full-time and caring for her two children – Isaac (age 7) and Naomi (Age 5), she is not only feeling exhausted but also overwhelmed and sad. She smiles and carries on as best as she can but beneath the workplace chatter, children’s parties and laughter is a deep feeling of loss and sadness that Sarah finds difficult to express to others.

Sarah is not alone! There are many others who can identify with the loneliness, anxiety and despair that she feels. What can Sarah do to survive through this difficult time? Here are a few tips!

1) Accept all offers of help from family and friends who are willing to babysit while you finish shopping or when you need a break so you can buy groceries and wrap gifts without curious eyes looking on.

2) If attending difficult social events, plan an exit strategy before you go. If you are attending with a friend or family member, establish a code word that can be used when you have had enough and need to leave. It often helps to be with another person at these type of events, even on the good days.

3) Check out your benefits program at work for counselling services offered through an Employee Assistance Program (EAP). Even three session to sit and speak with a counsellor – during your work day – can make all the difference in being able to recognize your own needs and articulate what you are thinking and feeling at this time of year.

4) Recognize that life has a way of bringing unexpected joys when you least expect them! Look for the simple circumstances of life  that can bring comfort and care to you and savour these moments (i.e. listening to a favorite sound track while you bake, attending a Christmas Candlelight Service at a local church/place of worship, enjoying the fragrance of apple cider or fresh brewed coffee as you read the cards people have sent to you or simply enjoying a walk with your children through your neighbourhood to look at the Christmas lights.)

5) Be gentle to yourself! Life happens and sometimes there are no words of describe how you really feel. Just be in the moment and know that you are not alone.

The Institute for Parent and Infant Care (IPIC) has expanded their services to Kitchener, Ontario. We are located at The Family Centre located at 65 Hanson Avenue just off of Homer Watson Blvd. Both our locations in Stratford, Ontario and Kitchener offer one-on-one counselling, breast pump rentals and much more. We will be operating during the holiday season by appointment only. Call (519) 272-0441 to make an appointment.

If your need is urgent or you are in need of a breast pump, call (519) 949.8701 or email: and leave a detailed message. You will receive a return call. 

Carol Hamilton is also available for one-on-one counselling for issues related to anxiety, family stress, depression, work-place stress, bereavement and parenting concerns. Call 519.272-0441.




CAROL L. HAMILTON RN, CPIC, BScN, MDiv has worked for 30 years with new parents and infants in Toronto and more recently in Stratford, Ontario where she is the lead nurse consultant at the Institute for Parent and Infant Care (IPIC). In this clinic setting, parents can obtain private prenatal education tailored to their specific needs or help with crying and colic, breastfeeding challenges or post-partum depression. With sensitivity and care, parents who have experienced a miscarriage or stillbirth find hope and healing after speaking with Carol. Carol has written two professional publications for the nursing profession and continues to mentor and educate nurses in issues affecting new families or in ways to establish an independent practice in Canada. In 2001, she returned to full-time studies at the University of Toronto, graduating with a Master of Divinity Degree and was ordained in the Presbyterian Church of Canada. She has also received certification as a bereavement  counselor. Carol brings a wealth of knowledge, expert skill and caring compassion to each family she counsels! Check out clinic times and location at or call 519.272.0441 for more information.    

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