There are people who are brilliant at doing Christmas. They spend November desperate to get on with it. December arrives, the tree goes up and they’re off. They manage to embrace all of it, effortlessly: the shopping, the cooking, the house and even the music.
If that’s you then this Sitster blog might not be for you. You’re excused and free to go off and enjoy your mulled wine.
That just leaves the rest of us, feeling just a bit Grinchy and with a really long to do list.
There’s a story that seems to appear in our newspapers annually : the disastrous Winter Wonderland which is just a muddy field with a depressed donkey and weeping children with an angry Bad Santa. That’s my metaphor for Christmas. Lots of hope and promise but brutally expensive and leaves you exhausted and with disappointed children.
Truth of the matter is that Christmas inspires, for some, a mix of irritation, sadness, stress and guilt. That’s a pretty toxic mix right there and we haven’t even had that side helping of hangaxiety.
The pressure is real because the stakes are high. We love our children but they are set to reach record levels of excitement matched only by X Factor contenders hearing “you’ve got four yesses” . We don’t want to let them down. We may not be fans of this time of year but we’re not monsters – we don’t want sad children on Christmas Day. Plus, this year, more than ever, we all deserve some fun.
So I’ve been giving this some thought and here’s some tips on getting through Christmas when feeling festive doesn’t come naturally.
1. KISS. It’s ok, it’s nothing to do with mistletoe but Keep it Simple Stupid. I’m not going to buy a gift for anyone who isn’t a child. After buying for children, nieces, nephews and Godchildren, buying for a brother-in-law feels like a chore. Phone the adults in your life and do a deal not to buy each other anything. While you’re at it you could agree a spending limit on presents for the children. January is bleak enough without feeling broke. If the adults in your family are expecting gifts then KISS by buying something they can eat or drink.
2. Christmas Cards : thanks to my smartphone, I’ve forgotten how to hold a pen. After three cards my hand is in agony and my writing is illegible. Save yourself hand pain (and a few evenings) by resisting the pressure to send one to everyone in your child’s class. Only send cards to people you really want to.
3. Be considerate to future Christmas you. Don’t start any traditions for your children you’re not prepared to keep up for a couple of decades. Elf on a Shelf seems exciting but finding new inventive places for it every December day for 15 years sounds like a bit of a drag. Letting them have their advent calendar chocolate at breakfast is thrilling enough.
4. It’s natural to put off things you don’t like and aren’t much good at. But procrastination leads to panic. Panic buying, panic cooking, panic drinking and then panicked hangovers. Obviously, I’d much rather be on Instagram and drinking wine too. But now isn’t the time to fall into a scroll hole and lose yourself in a perfectly curated instagram feed. There’s nothing worse than feeling like you’re running out of time and under the pressure to put on a perfect day. Book your food delivery shop, buy the stocking fillers, book the trip to the grotto (if you can face it). A little bit of pre-planning goes a long way (and guilt free instagram loafing later). If you have another half, don’t forget to delegate and outsource. Christmas is, predictably, heavily marketed to Mums and the expectation seems to be we should do it all. We know that’s not true.
5. Fake it. We don’t really love Minecraft do we? That You Tube video they’re telling us about is boring us to tears but we’re still smiling. Sometimes when we really need to swear we say “fudgity fudge face” instead. Parenting is full of faking. So us Grinches can fake some Christmas cheer. Ditch the guilt that your food isn’t Nigella worthy and embrace the ready made. A happy you is more important than attempting homemade michelin star worthy amuse bouche. Fake smiles, fake tree and fake roast potatoes. Do whatever you need to do to avoid unnecessary pressure. And it’s scientifically proven that you can fake it until you make it so all this faking might even have you thinking Christmas is brilliant after all.
Let us know your top Christmas survival tips and may the festive force be with you.
Merry Christmas Sitsters!
By Emilie Silverwood-Cope
Sitster is a mobile app to help friends organise a babysitting circle. Sitster makes it quick and easy to arrange babysitting amongst a group of your trusted friends, using a points system so it’s completely free and fair.