The Christmas Mental load

There’s something magical about Christmas is the movies. The picture perfect decorations, tables laden with food, Pintrest wrapped presents and everyone smiling. However, we rarely speak of how who carries the pressure of Christmas upon their shoulders. The true Christmas heroes who work tirelessly year long to ensure that magical experience of Christmas is felt by the entire family. The Mum’s.

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Us Mum’s know all too well where that load falls. I for one have had Christmas at the back of my mind most of the year. Starting in January I buy Christmas decorations on clearance and stuff them in my spare cupboards. During the year I hoard away stocking stuffers, and as of September I’m in full blown Christmas shopping mode. Somehow I’ve convinced myself that my constant preparation for Christmas will somehow reduce the stress I feel as the day draws closer. There is just so many jobs that need to be done ahead of Christmas Day itself; soaking the Christmas Fruit, ordering the food, buying the wrapping/ribbon/tape, wrapping the presents, decorating the house, baking….Not to mention all the other Christmas associated events that you need to be ready for. You need the advent calendars ready to go Dec 1. If you’re crazy enough to commit to Elf on the Shelf they’ve also go to be ready Dec 1 with new shenanigans everyday of the month. You need to have booked you Christmas photos and organised everyones outfits, and now there’s the new trend of matching Christmas PJ’s (make sure you’ve bought those too). The school and workplace functions. These often need food prepared, Secret Santa presents, thank-you gifts for teachers/bosses, concerts that need costumes, dinners that need outfits.There’s also all those gifts that have to ready ahead of time for family that you see before Christmas, Friends, colleges, neighbours.

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If you make through all of this there’s Christmas Eve- Attend Christmas Eve event, feed everyone, dress everyone in their Christmas PJ”s and make sure you leave out the carrots, milk and cookies. Once the kids are in bed eat said cookie, nibble carrots and drink milk. Next quietly dig out all the presents you’ve been hoarding all year. Build the toys that need assembly and silently wrap them and place under the tree. Start prepping food for the next day. Remember to go to bed before midnight so that you can have at least 5 hours sleep before the kids are up.

Christmas morning itself is magical. It’s the real pay off for all the stresses to see everyone filled with joy sharing presents, playing Christmas music and having fun together. As per usual the dad’s are sitting there pretending they know what’s in the box. If mum’s lucky they’ve picked up on you’re not so subtle hints about what you’d like for Christmas, and if not you’ve got another candle. But mum’s just don’t stop. You hand out the presents, you’re racing behind cleaning up all the paper, you’re taking photos and organising breakfast as well as starting on the Christmas lunch/dinner. Then you’re posting the pics you took to socials whilst stirring a pot of sauce and putting the roast on. Before you know it you welcoming guests, or rounding up everyone into the car for the next event.

The whole day can feel like a race for mum’s who like me probably swear they’re never going to do it again. We’re exhausted from the mental load of pulling off yet another Christmas. Surviving barely on the oxytocin from seeing the pure joy on our children’s faces on Christmas morning.

To all the Mumma’s out there you are the Christmas champions, the ninja’s, the greatest elves of all. We are all so lucky to have you spreading magic and your hard work is not unnoticed. I appreciate how hard it is, we just couldn’t do it without all of you.

Mumma Z xxx

One day Christmas Day will be about Me!

For many Christmas Week in general is basically event hoping and for many of us, myself included it is actually one of the most stressful times of the year. Not only is it the financial stress of Christmas but the emotional toll it takes. I spend the week trying to make Christmas amazing for everyone else, decorating, baking, going to each and every events so as not to upset anyone, ensuring we’ve visited those that are lonelier over the holidays and last year with a toddler it was a strain. This year I’ve got to do it with a newborn as well, send some serious help!

A few years ago though one vital decision was made by my in-laws which did reduce the stress of Christmas week significantly. For a while when I first started dating my husband I was the only partner therefore there were no considerations for the fact that we would have to try and be in two places at once on Christmas Day and man the stress. I felt like I was letting everyone down, I was clock watching the entire day and I was not enjoying myself at all. Just thinking about it gives me grey hairs. Luckily a few more partners came on the scene and they weren’t as people pleasing as me. They just said they couldn’t go to the in-laws event because their families was on at the same time. Now why didn’t I have the guts to do that…anyhow’s, the in-laws made the decision to have their Christmas lunch on Boxing Day so that the majority could be there and my and my husband rejoiced. For the first time in years we could relax on Christmas Day without the worry of rushing off somewhere else.

Fast forward a few years and the in-laws asked us to host the Boxing Day lunch..worst decision ever! Now although we didn’t have to rush off on Christmas Day I had no time to prepare for Boxing Day. After enjoying my Christmas lunch I had to come home and spend all evening prepping, cleaning and setting up. Needless to say there was no repeat of us hosting the year after. Now with two kids under three there is no hosting in sight!

This year brings new challenges- nap time. Navigating naps at different peoples houses around present opening and such is super tricky. Do I put them down early at home and wake them if they sleep too long? Do I risk it and take them awake and hope they go down for a nap there? Do I make everyone work around our schedule regardless of the fact that lunch would then be served at 2pm? There is an argument here for hosting it..but trying to cook for 15 people with a newborn and a toddler really isn’t realistic. I think I’m going to do a mixture of options. For Christmas at my parents the kids are used to sleeping there so I’m going to put them down for naps there between preset opening and lunch. For the in-laws I’m going to put them down for naps early at my house then take them there when they wake up. There would be nothing worse then over tired kids at the in-laws. Plus afterwards we have another event to drop in at so they need to have had a good rest.

In terms of baking and preparing plates to take to each event this is going to be done Christmas Eve Day. That way I am doing no cooking or cleaning on Christmas Day itself. If I can buy it I’m doing it. I know as a mum I’m acting as Santa and Christmas is about the kids so I will be running around like a headless chook trying to make it perfect for them but I have made one condition with my husband. One day Christmas will be all about me. Selfish as it may seem I would like one Christmas in my life before I have daughter in-laws and grandkids where I get to relax and have the Christmas I’ve dreamt of from the holiday movies. When the kids are old enough we’re going away for Christmas. I just want one Christmas in my lifetime that is a white Christmas maybe Germany I don’t know and if we win lotto a Hawaiian Christmas too. We will stay in a nice apartment, we’ll do Christmas presents on Christmas morning, we’ll eat at restaurants and there will be no people pleasing and that Christmas will be all about me. It’ll be just about my immediate family, building memories where no one is stuck in a kitchen. Where I can have as many drinks as I like because no one has to drive, and I can have a nap whenever I feel like it. That’s the dream, let’s hope Covid and my bank balance allow it one day!

Merry Xmas Mumma’s

Mumma Z xxx