I read a heartfelt post recently by Wendy from Naptime Natter about PND at Christmas. It got me thinking about the pressure parents can put on themselves to make Christmas perfect for their children, even when they’re really tiny.
Be it going all out on decorations, chasing down every last item on the baby gift guides, taking them to ALL the Christmas activities or stuffing in as many charming Christmas traditions as possible… We love our children with so much vigour, it’s hard not to get swept up in the ‘magic of Christmas’ and want to do all these things for them.
And there’s nothing wrong with doing those things, IF you have the mental and physical capacity to fit them in.
For any mums out there with young children who are just grateful to be able to shower and get 2 solid hours of sleep in a row… here’s the story of my daughter’s first Christmas, and why it’s OK to not bring the magic….
I became a first time mum in early 2015, so at my daughter’s first Christmas she wasn’t far off a year old. I remember being excited about it being her first Christmas, but endlessly exhausted to boot.
It was also my mum’s 60th a week before Christmas and I’d somehow thought it would be a good idea to organise a surprise meal and secretly put together a celebratory video with messages from all her friends near and far, complete with custom song written and performed by my sister and me. I spent precious hours pouring over that video, brainstorming song ideas, chasing people for video messages – and in my sleep deprived, new parent state, I still managed to forget to include some of the clips!
She loved it anyway of course, and I absolutely don’t begrudge the time spent working on it – I would do it all over again – BUT, it had taken so much of time and my physical and mental capacity, that D’s first Christmas was an after thought.
I like to think I’m quite pragmatic about such things though.
I could easily have let the parent guilt creep in, worrying that I hadn’t done enough to make her first Christmas exciting and missed out on all the adorable photo ops that having a baby at Christmas can bring. But really, she wasn’t even one yet. She was entertained by picking minuscule bits of dust off the carpet, or pulling herself up onto her feet and bobbing up and down. She wasn’t going to be impressed by going to see a big strange man in a lairy suit or being put in an expensive Christmas outfit. So no stress if we don’t do those things.
She didn’t understand the concept of presents, and preferred her familiar toys. So instead of getting myself down about not buying her amazing gifts, I gave myself a break, and listened to my daughter with my parent intuition.
What would she REALLY like for Christmas?
And the answer I came up with?…For my daughter’s very first Christmas, her presents from us were:
- A book about animals
- A balloon in a cardboard box
- A wooden spoon
That was it. For about £3 she got some presents that she was totally excited about!
Of course she was spoiled rotten by other family members, which we’d anticipated, and that was another reason we didn’t want to go over the top. Plus the fact her birthday would come round quite soon in the new year so it made sense to keep it low key in anticipation of that.
And do you know what? I felt pretty proud of myself for not succumbing to the allure of the Christmas sirens and beating myself up to do ALL the things. It was a nice, calm, low key Christmas which was exactly what we needed after our first year of being parents. And, although they say Christmas is all about the kids, I think while they’re still tiny, and until they understand it, it should really be all about the parents. A time to relax, to recharge, to recollect yourself and your thoughts, ready to face the new year.
Being a parent to tiny people is HARD without the added pressure at Christmas. Acknowledge your hard work, and be kind to yourself at Christmas time.
(She still has the wooden spoon by the way, and we use it to bang her drum or have sword fights or make Duplo soup!)
Did you feel under pressure to make your child’s first Christmas magical? Or did you go low key as well? What advice would you give parents of tiny people at Christmas time?