Christmas is coming … and Mum is getting frazzled

I love Christmas – I really do! Starlit nights, presents under  the tree, and a baby in a manger bringing peace and goodwill – it all gives me a happy, warm glow inside.  But once we turn the corner of the year into November, I feel an nagging knot of stress lodge itself in my stomach.  Christmas is coming – and there is so, so much for Mums to do!

The problem is that it all just takes such a lot of work.  There are presents to be bought and wrapped, cards to be written and posted, relatives to be invited and catered for, special meals to be organized … the list goes on and on.  For each child in school or nursery there will be at least one Christmas play or concert, for which Mum will be expected to make a costume (I got off lightly with Rudolph the red nosed reindeer this year – a costume you can buy) and then take time off from work or domestic duties to attend the event.  Brownies, churches, clubs all have their own parties, nativity plays or carol concerts – they’ll bring tears of happy pride to your eyes, but they do all take up that precious, precious time.  Of course we are expected to keep up with all the normal expectations of family life – meals, shopping, school parents’ evenings, keeping everyone and everything clean-ish and dealing with the ten or so urgent pieces of paper that land in our kitchens every day.  Christmas doesn’t let us off any of that – oh no!

The past couple of years I have arrived at Christmas Eve feeling honestly rather run down and sick of the whole thing.  All this was then compounded by guilt because, actually, I love Christmas and I want it to be a special time, for my family and for me too.  Not a time when Mum is weeping with exhaustion .

So, this year, it has got to be different.  To achieve this,I am trying to work out ways of reducing some of the workload, without losing that Christmas magic. And here are some of my ideas so far (many of which were in fact contributed by my long-suffering family!)

  • Buy and wrap only one main present for each child – they don’t really need or enjoy dozens of parcels to open all on one day, and they will actually prefer going shopping in January to spend money from relatives
  • Allow someone else – Dad, Granny, Uncle, or in my case older teenagers – to take charge of the whole Santa Claus stocking filling thing
  • Shamelessly buy ready made mince pies, Christmas pudding, gravy mix, pre-prepared vegetables etc, rather than trying to be a domestic goddess on the busiest day of the year
  • Try where possible to meet up with relatives at a restaurant, for a picnic (maybe indoors!), or (bit cheeky, this one) at their house, so I don’t have to be the perfect hostess
  • Beg, borrow, buy or steal (ie don’t make) costumes for plays, and be brave enough to tell the teacher why, if necessary
  • Do all shopping online, especially for food

Those are all the lazy bits, which demonstrate me to be a selfish, lazy and uncreative old Scrooge.  But … hopefully they will set me free to enjoy the bits of Christmas that I really love, including…

  • Feeling the tears well up at all those lovely nativity plays
  • Doing some special cooking with the children, making Christmas biscuits to hang on the tree, or sweets to give to relatives
  • A chilly, rosy- faced walk all together in the woods on Boxing Day
  • Having some time just to myself, to take a long, scented soak in the bath, or go out for a bracing run
  • Exchanging cards and letters with so many dear friends we hardly ever get to see
  • Letting the children decorate the tree, even if it doesn’t look as perfect as I would like
  • Coming home from church on Christmas Eve, feeling that there is magic in the air
  • Actually spending time with the people I love

This is what I am hoping for this Christmas, but I think to get it I will have to swallow some of my pride.  Fighting off all those unrealistic expectations foisted on us Mums by the movies and magazines can be tough, but it has to be worth it.  We are not domestic goddesses – we are all too human!

by guest blogger Karen Lawrence

Karen Lawrence lives in Billericay with her husband, Adrian, and their seven children, whose ages range from twenty-one down to three. Her family life is busy, varied and full of challenges and fun.  She gives her job title as “Mum”, but also works part time as a baby signing teacher, helping young children develop early communication skills.  Her hobbies include running, cooking and karate, plus anything else that helps her stay sane.

Unique Ideas for Christmas on Essex Mums

Are you looking for something a bit different this Christmas? Kids have too many toys, looking for something handmade and ethical or just a bit unusual? Come and take a look at the Essex Mums Alternative Christmas Guide! It’s full of ideas for unusual presents and has plenty of discounts just for users of Essex Mums! Keep checking back too as there will be more added over the next few days – you’re sure to find something you like!

If you have something you’d like to advertise yourself, please get in touch as there’s still plenty of time.

Please let me know if you have any comments, and send this on to as many people as you can!



Official Prediction Of Christmas Best-Sellers

Each year the Toy Retailers Association releases it’s prediction of what the 12 best selling toys will be at Christmas.

This year’s list includes toys from Hasbro, LEGO, VTech and other popular brands, and to reflect the current financial climate the list only includes toys under £50.

The 12 dream list toys 2009 in alphabetical order -

Bakugan Battle Pack Available From £15

Battle Strikers Available From £20

Ben 10 Alien Force Kevins DX Action Cruiser Available From £18.99

Bendaroos Mega Pack Available From £15.99

GO GO Pets Hamsters Available From £9.99

GX Racers Tightrope Terror Available From £14.99

Kidizoom Multimedia Digital Camera Available From £39.99

LEGO Games Minotaurus Available From £15

Monopoly City Available From £19.99

Princess Peppa’s Palace Available From £30

Sylvanian Families Caravan Available From £34.99

Transformers Movie 2 Voyagers Figures Available From £17.99

Read about & compare prices for each of the top toys here >>

What do you think about the 12 toys chosen?

Are there any toys that you think should have been on the list, but aren’t?

Are there any toys on the list that you don’t think should be on the list?

Are any of these toys on your children’s Christmas lists?

List compiled by Paul Dixon who runs the website Christmas Toy List which is full of toy ideas for Christmas 2009


Click here to subscribe to the Essex Mums Newsletter

This website and its content is copyright of Essex Mums - Essex Mums 2013. All rights reserved.