One of the best things about the festive season is that you can get away with breaking all the parenting rules and blame it on Christmas.
Mince pies before dinner tonight? Why not, it’s Christmas!
Sherry in the afternoon? Don’t mind if I do! It’s Christmas!
CBeebies for two hours while I recover from that afternoon sherry, you say? Sod it, it’s Christmas!
Bedtime half an hour late tonight? Oh, go on then – it’s CHRISTMAS!!!
As parents we spend most of our lives trying to be the perfect mum or dad. We read the books, we consult the forums, we ask Google and compare ourselves to every other parent we meet.
Day in, day out, we follow the rules. The Rules we set for ourselves to ensure our children turn into half decent human beings.
So by the time December comes along we are tired. Tired of the routines, the schedules, the bed times, dinner times…Tired of everything having a TIME!
We are exhausted by the guilt.
I feel guilty when I let my little one sleep in my bed, I feel guilty when I don’t.
I feel bad if I don’t play with the kids so I can get Stuff done, I feel bad if I do play with the kids and don’t get Stuff done.
Let’s face it. Trying to get everything perfect is bloody tiring. Which is why at Christmas I give myself a break. I do not want a perfect Christmas. I want a lazy, messy, disorganised, rule-breaking, guilt-free Christmas.
HOW TO HAVE A PERFECTLY IMPERFECT CHRISTMAS:
1) BE ROUTINELY INCONSISTENT
Most of us have a bedtime routine that we stick to NO MATTER WHAT. Whether we are exhausted or sick, we do the children’s dinner, bath and bed at the same time every single day. After all, we all know about the IMPORTANCE OF A CONSISTENT ROUTINE and if we dare to stray from the system who knows what might happen. We could turn our children into psychopaths, criminals or worse…so best not to risk it.
Except at Christmas. To achieve maximum imperfection ensure you occasionally stay out past the normal bedtime, skip the odd bath or let the children stay up an extra hour.
2) LET THEM EAT CAKE
So you have presents to wrap, cards to write or simply really need to sit down for five minutes and have a cup of tea; then bring out the cakes and biscuits!
Admittedly, I am guilty of ‘Biscuit Parenting’ all year round. Bribery is one of the most valuable tools I have as a mother and I use it on a daily basis. But over Christmas, at least I don’t have to feel guilty about it.
3) USE THE TELEVISION TO BABYSIT
On a good day I have Television Rules. Thomas the Tank Engine serves as a Really Useful babysitter while I have a shower, make dinner, drink coffee, but I usually limit the television viewing when possible.
But nothing says Imperfect Christmas like watching TV in your pyjamas for an entire day.
4) IGNORE THE CHILDREN
Obviously, not completely but for a truly inadequate Christmas let them entertain themselves occasionally! Forget heading out for a brisk walk in festive knitwear to ensure the children have their fresh air fix for the day. Don’t bother turning off the Peppa Pig in order to do something dull and crafty with the little ones. They have shed loads of new toys, books and an imagination – so they will probably survive one week without you constantly making them ‘do stuff’.
5) DON’T GET THE KIDS EVERYTHING THEY WANT
I loved Christmas as a child. I have fond memories of laughing, singing and playing with my family. I remember wearing paper hats, pulling crackers, telling silly jokes and eating so much dinner we all swore we’d never eat again – then an hour later we’d crack open the chocolate orange! Yet, I don’t remember much about the Stuff. My parents didn’t have a lot of money. Instead of stacks and stacks of expensive gifts, we would have one ‘main present’ under the tree and a few small toys and sweets in our stockings. Yet, those Christmases were some of the happiest days of my life.
Like many families in the UK we have a virtually non-existent budget for the festive season. My kids will not be getting every single thing they want for Christmas but I do not feel in the slightest bit guilty about it. Because they will get everything they need. Our love, our time and our attention. So don’t beat yourself up if you can’t afford that singing Queen Elsa doll or electronic Tracey Island – chances are they’ll enjoy themselves anyway. Besides, if they are anything like my kids they are just as happy to play with a pack of baby wipes.
6) GIVE YOURSELF A BREAK
The Imperfect Christmas is the ideal time not to beat ourselves up for every little thing we do that doesn’t involve tending to a child. Messing around on Facebook, taking too long in the bath, texting a friend or having the odd hangover are all perfectly acceptable during the holiday season!
So this year have a break from the worrying and the routines, and try to enjoy some guilt-free family time!
Do you break any of the parenting rules over Christmas? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below and join me on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. Find out more about the first book ever written about babies and sleep to contain no advice whatsoever over here.