Tis’ the season to be jolly…unless you have kids, and then quite frankly, it can be anything but jolly.
There's nothing like seeing Christmas through the eyes of your kids, but getting through it with them in tow can be exhausting.
Parent admin is off the scale in December, especially if you have school-age kids, and it is easy for parents to become overwhelmed by the pressure to ‘do it all’, leaving many feeling absolutely knackered by Boxing day (if not before).
So, as we head towards the main event, here are a few ways that you can keep your Christmas spirit alive during the next couple of weeks and on Christmas Day itself.
If you have younger children…
Social media is full of wonderful Christmas art and craft ideas, but before you take out shares in Baker Ross and Hobbycraft, think realistically about what you and your little one will be able to achieve.
Younger children, you may have noticed, have a short attention span and there will be a million other things that you will need to cross of your ‘to-do-list’, so trying to fulfil all the things that you have pinned and saved, is likely not going to happen.
Kids thrive on routine and Christmas should be no different. Keeping structure to their day is important, including on Christmas Day, Tired, ‘hangry’ kids, isn’t a good recipe for Christmas cheer, so try to keep to their usual nap and meals times to avoid over-tiredness and to ensure that they eat well.
Less can be more
Younger children can often find Christmas overwhelming, especially a mountain of presents to open. Staggering the present opening over the course of a few days works well for some. Little ones usually want to play with a present (or the box) as soon as it is opened, so allowing them some time to play quietly away from the chaos can be helpful.
If you have older children…
Get them involved
Older kids may like to be involved in your Christmas planning. From the food shopping list to gifts for others, give them some responsibility. Perhaps they may like to oversee arranging the gifts under the tree and handing them out on Christmas Day or setting the table for Christmas dinner.
Let it be
You may love a matching Christmas jumper and pj's, but not all older kids feel the same. Ask before you buy and let it be if they really do not want to be part of a photo shoot looking like Christmas has thrown up over them!
As kids get older the number of festive things that they want to do gets less, so don't expect them to be making family members cute Christmas cards anymore or wanting to make a gingerbread house. Let them choose the things that they do want to do, perhaps suggesting a new family board game or letting them be in charge of Christmas movies to watch.
Give them some space
Older kids and Teenagers in particular, like their own company or that of their mates on Facetime. It's important they still get that space however, chatting through your expectations of what you would like them to do/be a part of is a good idea to ensure they understand that Christmas is not just about them.
How to survive Christmas Dinner
Christmas dinner is one of the highlights of Christmas Day for us adults. However, when you have kids, particularly those who are small, it can become a little stressful.
Don’t force the sprouts – If your child is not used to a roast dinner and sprouts, or is one of many who doesn’t like them, do not force them into eating Christmas dinner. Christmas Day should be a happy day for all, making your children eat something they don’t like will just end in tears. Instead, make sure that there is something they will eat, served up alongside, or give them their favourite meal instead.
Give them choice - Instead of serving up their dinner for them, let them dish up their own - allowing them to choose what they want. You might be surprised what they put on their plate when there is no pressure!
Colour in table cloth – Christmas dinner is often a long affair, and it can be hard to keep small kids entertained. Having a tablecloth that they can colour in and draw on is a great idea, particularly if you are eating in a restaurant or at a relative’s house.
Let them be excused from the table early – It’s unfair to expect little ones to sit for longer than they are able to, so allow them to leave the table when they are done, even if you are not.