How to be a parent at Christmas (and not completely lose your shit)

Ahhh Christmas. The time of peace and goodwill to all men (and women. And the bloody kids too I suppose). The ‘goodwill’ bit really is one of my favourite things about the festive season. Strangers saying “Merry Christmas” when you pass them on the street on Christmas Eve, popping in for a sherry with your elderly neighbours, telling everyone how fabulous they look in their party outfits – and really meaning it. Grudges are given up, bad feeling put aside. If I could bottle that goodwill I would; imagine the power of it for profound societal change if that was the craic all year round!

Yep. I’m down with the goodwill. Sign me up for lots of that shizzle.

I just have one quick question (and if you know me; you know it won’t be quick in any way shape or form): Where the fuck has the ‘peace’ bit of ‘peace and goodwill’ gone!? There is literally not another month of the year which is such a thief of peace. Not even August, when the kids have hit the ‘I’m bored’ phase of the summer holidays and you get that ‘I need a gin’ twitch at 2pm instead of 5pm. Nope, August is a walk in the peaceful park in comparison to December.

As well as the insane amount of year-round life admin that is required to look after myself and four boys; in the run up to Christmas we can add in the following:

•Christmas Jumper Day. At my work and at the boys school. But obviously not on the same day as that would be too easy.

• School Christmas parties for both big boys. Again, not on the same day…don’t be silly. Parties require not only an outfit but a plate of party food, wrapped in cellophane. Plates must not contain any nuts or recreational drugs.

• School nativity costumes. Don’t. Get. Me. Started.

• School carol concerts. At differing locations across the borough. Definitely don’t hold them in the school hall. Too straightforward.

• Gifts for teachers, teaching assistants, student teachers. Competitive wrapping/gift boxes required. Woe betide you if you’re the sorry shower-of-shit Mum who takes in a box of Maltesers from Spar. (Always me.)

• Forms to say your child can go to the carol concerts off-site, forms to say children can take part in the nativity/disco/party/orchestra/camel parade. Obviously most of the forms will also require cold hard cash to accompany them. Excellent.

Those are just a few of the ridiculous Christmas-related minutiae which result in grown women breaking down in Sainsbury’s and sobbing into a random cashiers bosom on December 21st. I’ve seen it happen.

And the worst thing about it is that so much of our Christmas stress is self inflicted. We have collectively stolen that peace from ourselves. We have given ourselves an insanely long list of #makingmemories instagrammable shite that we just have to do. Because you know; we want it to be magical and wonderful (and also we don’t want Helen from the PTA ringing social services on us to report that we haven’t taken our kids to feed a reindeer yet and it’s already the 3rd of December.).

We have replaced our festive peace with elves on bastard shelves, Christmas Eve boxes (for fucks sake), tea-parties with Santa (which completely balls up the story we drum into kids that Santa only leaves the North Pole on Christmas Eve) and visits to Winter Wonderland which we have to take out second mortgages to pay for.

Think about your memories from Christmas as a kid. I bet not one of them involves Lapland or a ‘once in a lifetime gingerbread-making with Mrs Claus experience’. Most likely you remember going to an an-dram pantomime, meeting Santa outside Woolworths in your local precinct, finding the presents your Mum had hidden in the cupboard under the stairs. No frills, no fuss, no huge expense. But those memories still give you all the warm nostalgic feels don’t they?

Now I’m not griefing you and claiming to be immune from all the aforementioned festive lunacy. I’m as likely as the next parent to fall victim to it… I’ve been known to create a bloody reindeer runway in our back garden on Xmas eve (well my husband does; but I take the credit like the smug instawanker that I am). I don’t do the elf on the shelf though. Or the Christmas Eve box. Cos you know; I’m not mad. Neither am I some kind of Grinch; I absolutely love Christmas… I’m just not so keen on the sky-high stress levels which often accompany it.

Anyway I’m making it my mission from now on. Peace is going to be as high on the agenda as goodwill next year. I’m not booking a ride on Santa’s sleigh in September at a cost of £20 per child. I’m allowing myself to breathe. And if that means my kids are the only ones wearing school uniform for Christmas Jumper day…then someone will just have to call social services.

2 thoughts on “How to be a parent at Christmas (and not completely lose your shit)

  1. I love this. It’s such a breath of fresh air to hear and so true. The memories our kids will have will be of spending time and having fun with us. Let’s try and enjoy Christmas instead of putting ourselves under ridiculous pressure to keep up appearances. Thank you!


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