24 December 2016
Christmas as a working mum is that wonderful relaxing time of year where we are expected to combine working full time with relentless shopping, present buying, house decorating, food shopping, mass catering, pot washing, house cleaning, family visits, bed stripping, present wrapping, party organising, nativity watching and marital mayhem.
Marital Mayhem because Christmas as a working Dad (well it is in my house) is very different and involves only two tasks:
Task 1 - Tree selection and erection. This task generally involves Alpha males meeting in a forest and hunting down only two types of trees. Either a tree so big that it will require a full joinery ensemble to remove the offending branches, saw and mould it in half to enable it to fit into place in lounge. The second type is the bonsai Christmas tree that is so small it fits neatly and effortlessly into the boot of the car.
Task 2 – Policing the children to stop them killing each other, destroying the tree or eating the Christmas decorations.
To help you survive this Family time here are some of my basic rules to help the Big Day go effortlessly:
Rule 1 - Buy, wrap and tag your own presents
Although you indeed go to extraordinary lengths to rescue the Santa letter, decipher the hand written Santa list, and track down and find the children’s wonderful chosen items that include the hard to find Seasonal top ten rated toys, this gesture will be returned to you in the form of being bought nothing. Buying your own gifts is a sure way to keep happy and festive, knowing everything is the right size, smell, colour and type.
Rule 2 – Keep receipts
Parents, Parent in Laws, Grandparents, Aunties and such like are all very familiar with the concept of store 28 returns policy and the cash refund. Happily dish out all receipts at the same time as the gift is given and this will stop your chosen item being displayed in the shop window of your local charity shop or the possibility of it being recycled back to you next year.
Rule 3 – Destroy all evidence of pre-cooked food packaging
When cooking Christmas Dinner you will be entertaining 3 generations of expert Christmas dinner makers from years past. They are only too happy to share tips, recipes and advice to make your dinners taste as good as they did when food was rationed. They will constructively criticise your Aunt Bessie roasters whilst polishing off every morsel, spitting the potatoes at you as they talk, in the hope you will take note and improve for next year.
Rule 4 – Record as many Disney films and cartoon channels for immediate viewing
Once all Christmas presents have been opened, toys played with and bikes ridden, you will have approximately 30 minutes until your children are bored. Press play and let the digital screen work its magic buying you enough time to open the Prosecco.
Rule 5 – Teenage children
Teenage children are not very fond of Christmas and don't particularly like going anywhere because they want to spend quality time with loved ones. By loved ones I mean their mobile phone. They will spend the majority of Christmas Day on social media discussing and plotting how they will escape the house and meet up with their mates to celebrate Christmas properly in the local bus shelter or shop doorway.
Rule 6 – Vegetarian options
On Christmas Day there is usually a member of my family who is a newly converted Vegetarian after the Nursery trip to Stockley Farm where they stroked the pet Turkey. Now Vegetarians are the subject of concern and quiet hatred from the older generation in my family who see this ‘food allergy’ as disturbing and an illness that hopefully will pass.
Rule 7 – After dinner mints
Children, unlike the older generation at the Dinner Table have no concept of the after dinner mint and the consequences of taking one and eating it BEFORE DINNER. This small action will be seen as the start of your children slippery slope of rebellion that will surely end in a Young Offenders Institution. Take preventative chocolate measures and stock up on Asda 2 for 1 celebrations buckets and keep spares in the shed, garage and loft for emergencies.
If you use my 7 rules as tools then you will hopefully survive another year with only 364 days till we start again. Have a wonderful Christmas and a Fantastic New Year everyone.
(Managing Director of Evolution Childcare)