During life BC (Before Children) Christmas was a fairly relaxed and subdued affair. Maybe you fondly recalled the excitement of being a child at Christmas, but as an adult it was just an excuse for a break from work, good food and a big ol’ drink.
But from the moment we become parents there can be a lot of pressure to make every Christmas moment magical and memorable for our kids. Don’t get me wrong, Christmas with kids is amazing. They reignite our old excitement and bring so much joy to the whole family. But only if we let them. If we get too caught up in creating a wonderful Christmas bubble we can sacrifice our own holiday happiness by becoming too anxious and stressed out.
I only have one child, and a wonderful, supportive family, so I’m not going to pretend I know how it feels to create Christmas for a haggle of children but I just wanted to share the small steps that help me to feel less on edge during the festive period.
Much as seeing Christmas decorations in the shops in September is somewhat excruciating, starting your planning in November isn’t a bad idea. Buying presents early can make the cost feel less overwhelming and planning your Christmas meals in advance can take the pressure off a little.
I often wonder how I would get through the day without lists. There is something very comforting and satisfying about getting all your tasks on paper and, especially, crossing items off. I know some families don’t believe in making lists for presents but it’s a big thing in my family. Keeping a list for my son’s presents helps ensure he gets items he’s really going to enjoy and that nobody doubles up. Likewise, making lists relating to meals, Christmas cards or upcoming events or special dates helps you feel more organised and, subsequently, calmer.
I know this isn’t an option for everyone sadly but if you can find someone to watch your children for just a couple of hours while you do present shopping or the big Christmas food shop then this can mean relief from restless little ones and frayed nerves.
Who doesn’t love to bury themselves in Pinterest looking for the perfect Christmas craft, homemade table centrepiece or beautifully decorated house? Inspiration is brilliant but if you then become a little obsessed with making sure your house, your food and your children’s experience is perfect you’re setting yourself up for a fall. The best Christmas memories tend to be the ones where we embrace life’s little disasters and imperfections
Find your inner kid
My absolute favourite thing about Christmas with my son is being able to rediscover all the excitement of my own childhood. So during those grotto visits or festive gatherings I try to forget about adult responsibilities and whether everything on the to do list is ticked, and instead bask in my son’s innocent excitement and live vicariously through him. If only for those few minutes. Because it’s the tiny, unexpected moments that tend to make Christmas as a parent feel truly magical.
Fundamentally Children is an organisation dedicated to helping children develop skills through play. They provide independent expert advice on a range of topics including play, toys, apps, children’s tech, e-safety, child development, special needs and other parenting issues. They are also the home of the Good Toy Guide and Good App Guide as well as a raft of other useful advice for parents, carers and childcare professionals.
Find out more by visiting www.fundamentallychildren.com.