Welcome to 12 Days of Parenting – A series of blog posts by a lovely group of bloggers, leading up to Christmas, with all sorts of themes, tips and ideas to survive the festive season with small children in to as well as some great sponsored posts and giveaways.
Adventures of A Novice Mum has shared her tips so now it’s our turn.
I was going to post a picture of a bottle of gin, tonic, ice and lemon, because to be honest, sometimes that feels like the only way you might survive Christmas, managing family, in laws, small children, gift shopping, cooking, cleaning up and all that comes with the celebrations at this time of year, but then I thought I would also share a few tips as well that I have learned over the years, as a parent.
Christmas is a very emotive subject and time. Everyone has their own ideas of how things should be, traditions, things that have always been done a certain way, how the day or times should work, and expectations and emotions can run high. Whilst you want to keep everyone happy, and make the day or time enjoyable for everyone, you also have to keep your sanity, especially if you are hosting, or taking children to visit family or places they aren’t used to, or even places they are used to.
My tips are
If you are hosting:
Plan things the way you want them to be, but also accept that plans can change, especially with small children in tow. Lack of sleep, sickness (Emily’s first Christmas she came down with a horrible fever on the day, and spent most of it, miserable and not really enjoying things, and neither did I, of course) and people changing plans or not sticking to plans, are always things to have in the back of your mind. Be realistic about what you can cope with (if you have a newborn and are hosting, for example, you may not want to be cooking the whole Christmas meal, and might want to ask for people to bring a contribution, or let people help you)
Set some house rules and boundaries. It’s your home and your Christmas. Whilst you want people to enjoy the time and be a good host, you also get to call the shots. You decide when lunch or dinner is, based on what works for your family (especially small children, who may not be able to wait all day for a late lunch that might be a family tradition) you can also set the tone. If you want to watch the Queen’s speech, after lunch, then let everyone know. If Aunty Geraldine is a staunch republican and doesn’t want to watch ten minutes of her Majesty making her Christmas speech, then let her know so she can either potter off into the kitchen whilst it’s on, or play with the children or go out in the garden for some fresh air.
Check the dietary requirements of your guests, especially anyone you don’t know well and if possible don’t rely on word of mouth, but ask the person themselves. (I had a guest arrive on Christmas day that I had never met before, brought by a family member, who was allergic to prawns, and of course I had prawns as a starter, for the meal, but didn’t know before hand. I felt awful, and had to scrabble for a substitute at the last minute. If you can provide for your guests, it’s a good thing, and there are loads of websites, blogs and social media spots with ideas for meals for those with allergies, intolerances and preferences. The days of a dry, nasty looking nut loaf are long gone. If in doubt, you can ask your guest to bring something. For example, I have a friend who is a strict vegan, and she will always bring something she can eat to contribute to the meal, although I would happily cook for her.
Try and relax, if you can, and at least get some time to enjoy things. It’s hard if you are hosting and also running around after small children (you can of course pass that job onto visiting family, let them play with the kids, admire new toys and watch a Christmas movie, leaving you free to do what you need to do either in the kitchen, or actually to just sit down yourself and relax) and also know that it’s a long, exciting day for everyone, especially the children, and the odd bout of tears or a meltdown may happen.
If you are going to someone else’s for Christmas:
Plan, if you can around meals, gift opening times etc, if you can. If you know you are going to your in laws and they don’t eat dinner until 4pm, either ask about making sure the kids get some food before then, or pack snacks and stuff, so you don’t end up with cranky, hungry children. If you or a family member has food intolerances or allergies, check with your host, about what you can help with the meal, do they need menu suggestions, or ideas, or can you bring things to help that you can eat? Don’t assume they will know. I for example have had to explain that butter replacement spreads, just because they are low fat, or made with olive oil, still contain cows milk and therefore aren’t suitable for my dairy allergic big and small boy. If I can, I will take things that a host may not want or be able to get hold of, and I don’t get offended if I am asked to bring something that they can eat.
Set your boundaries about what time you are leaving, arriving, if the day is going to be too crazy. If your little ones are going to be beside themselves with tiredness and over excitement by 6pm, then let your hosts know that you will be hoping to leave by then, so they know and no one gets upset when you start making a move to leave at the time you have said you will. Don’t feel that you have to bow to pressure, to stay a bit longer, despite the fact your child is mid it’s 3rd overtired, exhausted meltdown and needs to go to bed. But, on the other hand, do arrive on time, if possible, so that you are able to make the most of the day and your hosts can spend time with you.
On both sides, gifts can be a touchy subject, whether people are coming to your house, or you are going to theirs. It’s better to be upfront and honest. For example, on one side of our family we don’t do gifts for adults, and the other side does. So with my brother and his family, we make a fuss over the children, and give gifts, but the adults don’t. We all know and agree. But with my in law side the adults do gifts, so we do that, but if we are all together as a family we try to exchange gifts privately, so no one is left out or watching gifts being opened without one themselves. If your host says not to bring a gift, or make a fuss gift wise, that’s fine, but I always do bring something small, just to say thank you, even if it’s some wine, or some flowers, or something they can enjoy afterwards. We also make sure we take notes as we and the children open presents, so we can make sure the person who gave it gets thanked.
Try and enjoy the day, go with the flow where you can, accept help in the kitchen or clearing up if you are hosting, and if you are someone else’s home for the celebrations, be thankful that’s not your carpet you are going to have to scrub red wine or gravy stains out of on Boxing Day.
And if all else fails, there is always….
Now you can hop to Mummies Waiting to get her top tips for surviving Christmas
Today’s post was kindly sponsored by LycraWidow
You can enter the fabulous giveaway by clicking on the Rafflecopter link below
Our code word is : tantrums (how appropriate!)