Category Archives: Christmas

My parents had Christmas so easy….didn’t they???

Surely they did??

Our Christmas as kids was pretty simple. Through my hazy rose tinted glasses at any rate. Probably didn’t feel that simple to my parents . Same financial pressure , same pressure to make the kids happy. There just didn’t seem to be so many little extras.

It was kind of basic our Christmas but oh I did absolutely adore it.

We’d watch The Snowman on Christmas Eve , presents on Christmas morning (after our dad had played some kind of pantomime scrooge , pretending to take aaaggggeeesss to get ready to go downstairs and see if ‘he’d been’ ) Have a huge Christmas dinner (after my mam had barred everyone from the kitchen whilst she created her masterpiece!) , board games , a film then another load of food under the guise of the Christmas tea buffet (a tradition I have since adopted for us )

It sounds so very simple, but was Christmas the most exciting time as a kid ?? Absolutely.

Laying Christmas Eve too excited to sleep but knowing you really have to , awaiting true magic to happen is just something never replicated as a grown up!!

I absolutely adored Christmas as a kid . It just seems like it was a little less busy back then.

Things my parents never had to do :

ELF ON THE SHELF

Seriously elves making a mess all over the house?? My mam would have had a fit! She liked our place clean and tidy thank you very much!!Flour snow angels all over the kitchen floor? she’d have rounded up the little buggers and put them in a cage till they could learn to behave)*

*Disclaimer – my sister and I were never put in cages till we could learn to behave I promise. Mainly because I was born impeccably behaved , and well my sister was cute enough to be able to get away with her nonsense.

SCOUT THE BEST SANTA EXPERIENCE EVER

(then book it 3 months in advance)

Now no one wants their kid to see a crap Santa , that is a magic of Christmas ruiner!

My mam took my sister and I to queue in Alders for an hour if she was feeling fancy. Bransholme centre if feeling less so!! -Job done ?

When in years past checking out santas for small girl I’m looking at garden centres? What’s the gift quality like? Are there ACTUAL REINDEERS????

REINDEER FOOD FOR CHRISTMAS EVE

Again mess??? Litter ?? not a chance!!

CHRISTMAS CRAFTS

I bloody love Christmas crafts , small girl is a fan too!!

We love making christmas crackers (although we do buy a box too because i am not having Christmas pass me by without getting my hands on a fortune telling fish!!) , salt dough decorations (one time our scented versions will actually work) , tree ornaments?

Hobbycraft at Christmas is our idea of heaven!

I do know that everyone doesn’t feel the same way about crafts. I know some parents hate it and fair enough it’s a messy , frustrating with the very small ones , time consuming business. All I’ll say is I never remember my mam having to glitter herself into a festive meltdown because HOW CAN YOU RUIN YOUR KIDS LIFE BY NOT MAKING SALTDOUGH WITH THEM!!!!Or thats how the pressure feels at times!!

We used to get a pack of those cheap paperchains that you licked to get them to stick together…..only they never did!!!

CHRISTMAS BAKING

Obviously we have small girl – masterchef extraordinaire!

Shortbread Christmas trees , melted snowman cupcakes , rudolph muffins she’s up for all that , it makes her happy. My mam ONE years made butterfly buns . My sister and I are still traumatised by the taste , the texture and the whole occasion. I blame this entirely on why I don’t like cake. Bless my mam she wasn’t a natural baker – as I am not.

CHRISTMAS DAYS OUT

Winter Wonderland , Christmas markets , festive concerts , going to chop down your very own tree (may or may not be a thing)

We had a Christmas disco and fair at school (parents didn’t even have to show up , just send you off with your 20p in an envelope and all was good!)

I guess the point I’m making is that Christmas as a kid for me was the best best thing ever ever ever, even a bit simpler. Maybe we could all do to take a breath and realise we don’t have to do ALL the things in order to make Christmas a goer. Christmas is going to be magical for the little ones nevertheless.

I love all the Christmas fuss , crafts and elves and all that nonsense . However if we don’t make Winter Wonderland Christmas isn’t going to to be a disaster!!

Also I have to confess to a bit of a hunch….my mam seemed to have less pressure to do all the festive fuss when we were kids , however if she was still alive now you can bet your bottom dollar she’d be knee deep in glitter and elves and Christmas Eve boxes for the grandkids – mess or no mess!!

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Musings Of A Tired Mummy

How to survive Christmas when it’s not ‘your turn’ with the kids

I like being a single parent.

I like that all the decisions are mine.

I like that we’re a solid little unit of 5.

I like that our family dynamic is so lovely an we all just fit.

I do not like sharing the kids time.

I especially do not like sharing the kids time over Christmas. There’s no two ways about it , it sucks. Hard.

It’s bad enough that most of the big retailers Christmas ads are full of images of that perfect family unit , I even as a content single parent feel put out that I and the kids don’t have that it’s sold to us so intensely.

Some parents Christmas’ don’t look like that. It’s not mummy and daddy looking over the children rushing downstairs to see if Santa has been before tucking in a huge dinner all together with extended family gathered for extra cheer.For some parents Christmas comes with a gut wrenching incompleteness. Some years it’s simply not your turn.

I’ve done ‘not my turn ‘ with small girl a couple of times now and I thought maybe I could share how you can possibly ease the awfulness even just a tiny bit.

1) Don’t feel obliged to join other people

When people find out you’ll be alone at Christmas they’ll likely invite you to join theirs (nice humans will anyway!) If you know being in someone elses Christmas will make you feel worse though , don’t do it. It’s hard to know how you’ll feel if it’s your first time.People you are close to though I am sure if you change your mind and cannot stand sitting home alone later in the day will greet you over .
Also though

2) Don’t be a misery martyr

If you do want to take up a lovely invitation from friends and family don’t say no for daft reasons such as – they’re only asking out of politeness or that you feel that you’re betraying your children in some way if you dare crack a smile without them. You sat crying into the Quality Street will benefit no one if you’re wishing you’d have just gone to your friends rather than take up emotional self flagellation as your new hobby.

3) Have an early (or late) Christmas Day

So Santa is a tricky one if you don’t have the kids the actual day the big guy comes but I’ve found the elves are pretty open to an email explaining the situation . They’re usually good to drop a little gift off on an alternative day , nothing so huge as to upstage Mr Claus but just something to open.

Then get your Delia on ,do your turkey ,pop on a silly paper hat and have your Christmas! I’m a silver linings kind of a girl so I’ll just say if you have ‘your’ Christmas after the 25th – half price turkeys!

4 ) Remember it’s just one day

I know this is hard. Almost impossible hard. It’s THE day ,the one everyone has been banging on about for months . Tomorrow is a new one though , as is next week and you can fill the little people’s festive period with so much fun stuff. Pantos generally go in into the New Year , festive events like Winterwonderland too go on after Christmas day itself.

5) Seek out #joinin on Twitter

Ok now this one has cheered me up out of my misery on a few festive occasions. Even on years all four children are around,once they’ve gone to bed on Christmas Day I can feel a little lonely. I’m someone who enjoys my own company all year round ,but I don’t know Christmas just seems to highlight my solo-ness. It’s probably the one time I lament the absence of another adult person on my sofa.

The amazing Sarah Millican began #joinin for anyone alone on Christmas who doesn’t want to be. She explains it better here , have a read. I can vouch for it as a perker upper though. I’ll be there on and off throughout the day as really I’m often surplus to requirements once presents are done and dinner is eaten!!!

I’m @daydreamer_mum on Twitter so should you fancy slating annoying relatives , chatting about eating your own body weight in chocolate , discussing the Christmas TV or just fancy a chat over Christmas if you’re lonely tweet me . Social media has its low points but surely over Christmas we can make it a force for good.

Nothing I can say can make Christmas without the kids any less shit. I so wish it could. Take very good care of yourself if it’s not your turn this year. Remember it’s just a few days and there’ll be a gang of cool kids on Twitter around for chat!!

Xxxxx

My Facebook page is here if you fancy

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Not Just the 3 of Us

To the mum enduring an abusive relationship at Christmas time… 

Dear friend,

We don’t necessarily know one another but maybe we do. Living with abuse I know is torturous and I know you feel so alone, so I just wanted you to know that I know.

I know how your abuser hates Christmas and uses this as a mantra in order to justify his behaviour. That he’d never have torn the Christmas tree down if you hadn’t made a fuss when you know he hates Christmas.

I know that you’re going to spend the whole of the festive period treading on eggshells, trying not to draw attention to yourself or the children. Trying to quietly play with them,make them feel loved and nurture them whilst keeping them from being too noisy or too messy so as not to unleash his temper.

I know all the work will have been left to you, all the food shopping and present buying. Even if he’s withheld money you’d still have been expected to get presents, and you probably have.

I know whatever presents you have bought will be wrong. You’ll either have bought the wrong thing or you’ll have bought too much and he’ll call the children spoilt. He’ll tell you you’re an awful mum but he’s wrong. You’re not. You’re incredible.

I know that Christmas time might be a lonely place for you. Maybe you’re isolated from your own family and friends so have to spend Christmas with his. Having to watch him turn on the charm in public and play the devoted family man.

I know you’ll have not been able to get it right if you’ve been round his family. If you’ve been quiet he’ll accuse you of rudeness and being stuck up, asking who the hell you think you are and ensuring you continue to feel like shit.

Alternatively if you’ve been chatty you’ll be accused of flirting with his brother, his friends, his dad. Accused of having an affair, called a slag whilst simultaneously told you’re so fat and ugly no one else would ever want you.

I know maybe he’ll not buy you a Christmas present, he’ll tell you you’re not worth it. He’ll spit that he didn’t get you anything from the kids because you are such a terrible mother. Maybe it’ll go the other way though, maybe he’s presented you with the grand gesture, an expensive gift in front of people that’ll likely be smashed into pieces at his hands by new year.

Alcohol is a factor at Christmas too I know. He’ll use it as an excuse for his appaling behaviour. Blame it on the drink. Should you pour a glass of wine though then you’re back in awful mother territory. An alcoholic. A disgrace.

I think that there is likely still a tiny glimmer of hope inside you. You’ll ignore it for the most part because it is terrifying, you can’t let your mind begin to daydream about another way. You’ve just got to put all your energies into making the kids feel loved, keeping them safe. Focus on just surviving, your thoughts almost exclusively trained towards preempting his next move, keeping him calm.

You probably have even forgotten it was there, than tiny spark of hope. It’s been dampened over the years certainly but not extinguished. It’s lying dormant waiting for the day it’s safe for you to leave. It makes me sick to even say that. Safe to leave. We know the statistics though, we’ve read the newspaper stories, we know leaving abuse can be dangerous.

When it’s safe though, when you’re ready that tiny glimmer of hope will see you through.

I’m sorry that your Christmas is an ordeal. I’m sorry everywhere you look you see happy families enjoying cheery Christmases with devoted fathers and husbands and you wonder why you don’t get to have that. Even the TV bombards you with smiling festive families and I know it just makes you want to weep for your children and for yourself. I know you do your weeping in secret. I’ve been you.
I’ve done years of Christmas being a time of violence and of criticism and shouting and screaming and pain. I didn’t think there’d ever be a time that that wasn’t my life. I couldn’t have ever envisaged that one day the children and I would be safe here in our house, able to do Christmas our way, able to enjoy rather than endure. Here we are though. It is possible, there can be a light at the end of the tunnel. I know you can get there too.

Just please know this,

You are valuable and you deserve to be free. You are loved and cherished and there is a whole army of women out here ready to mobilise and support you when you are able to make those steps.

I wish you a safe Christmas and a peaceful new year

Xxxxx

If you are in an abusive relationship and you need help the Women’s Aid website is here for help and advice

The Freedom Programme which helped me immeasurably after I’d left the abusive relationship but also is open for women still in the relationship has groups around the country as well as an online course. Their website is here

My Facebook blog page is here

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Not Just the 3 of Us

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3 Little Buttons



Top Ten things about school Christmas concerts… 

1) The sheer excitement

The kids are so giddy that they’ve been let out of their classrooms, the announcement that Frosty the Snowman is the next song getting cheers I’d not heard since telling my sister it’s ok to drink at breakfast time on Christmas Day.

2) The naughty kids

The ones having a laugh, jabbing people and chatting when the teacher has already put his finger to his lips. Usually prompting a TA to crawl over to them telling them they’re spoiling it for everyone else. For the record kid, you’re not spoiling it for me, I’m having fun.

3) Fake festive teachers

Yes you are wearing a santa hat or a Christmas  jumper. Yes you’re smiling and pretending to be jolly, but if anyone dare uncross their legs you are on it like a ninja. Christmas or no Christmas.

4) Terrible singing

Why do kids do that that thing of shouty singing? . Hate to be all Simon Cowell about it, but you can pull off shouting through 12 days of Christmas THREE FRENCH HENS!!! Sounding like a football chant. Doesn’t work to bellow Away in a Manger. All about the song choice kids, all about the song choice.

5) Alternative Christmas plays

If your school ditches the Nativity and goes rogue your child could be ANYTHING my child was once a garden gnome!, in her first school play eldest girl was a piece of tinsel. This involved just standing by a tree silent and still for 20 minutes.

6) Wrong words.

Always the child singing that bit louder than the others getting words so wrong but so enjoying themselves. I want that child to come to my house and sing carols wrongly, yet enthusiastically whilst we eat our Christmas dinner. Unless it’s people singing ‘Good tidings we bring to you and your KING?? In We Wish you a Merry Christmas.. That just grates!!

7) The thank you speeches.

You know where the headteacher thanks all the parents for the lovely Christmas gifts. You’re either feeling terribly guilty at this point as you forgot or very smug as you were sure she was looking directly at you as she said it as yours was totally the best present. Walking past the staff room this morning I have to say I’d be giving a thank you speech too if I’d managed to accumulate that much wine and chocolate!!

8) Candles.

Always a risky combo candles and kids and don’t the teachers know it. Everyone is edgy, breathing a huge sigh of relief at the end when they’re blown out. I get a feeling the caretaker is just the other side of the door with the fire extinguisher secretly hoping for his big hero moment after 20 years of unblocking loos.

9) Joining in!!

The actual joining in bit isn’t my favourite, in fact the phrase’ you too mums and dads’ is an anxiety attack trigger I am sure. My favourite bit is looking around and realising all the other parents feel just as awkward and uncomfortable with doing the actions to 6 geese a laying. Well all except one parent who’s whole heartedly embracing the singing and dancing.

10) It’s an excuse for a therapeutic sniffle

Kids singing Away in a Manger just ends in tears every time. Their cute little faces are just too much to stand. Please don’t make the sweetest cutest one sing a solo though, that makes the therapeutic sob into ugly, snotty , crying.

So here’s to school Christmas concerts – just no-one mention that this is small girls last ever Christmas in Primary School or those ugly, snotty tears will be back!!

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JakiJellz

 

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Mission Mindfulness

Christmas ads fib!

Yes it’s still November but the Christmas ads are out so I’m allowed to now use the C word!!!

I love a soppy Christmas advert, I do. They make me feel emotional and nostalgic and warm and fuzzy inside. You can’t beat them to make you really feel festive . They make me feel something else though too.. a bit of a failure. Our Christmases don’t look like the ones on the ads, I feel guilty about our non advert perfect Christmas.

Then I get a grip. It’s all fibs to fool you into buying stuff!! I’ve thought about the perfect Christmas scenes the ads sell us and how my more real scene unfolds at home!

Christmas ad scene :
Perfectly wrapped colour coordinated gifts under an exquisitely decorated tree. I’m always so jealous of the trees.

Real scene:
I’m a good gift wrapper. I love it, luxury paper, ribbons, bows, sprigs of holly (too far I know). That only extends as far as grown up gifts though. Kids gifts are usually wrapped in £1 a roll Asda special paper. The tree?? Oh my!! I let littlest girl decorate the tree so it’s now become her thing. She’s so giddy and enthusiastic about it and the tree always looks… interesting.

Ad scene :
Gorgeously dressed table, glistening turkey, perfectly cooked vegetables, mountains of food.

Real scene :
I do a good line in table dressing. I can compete with an M&S ad, no problem.

It. Ends. There.

Lovely food on the table, candles, place names it’s all there. Then I take my seat at the table. There’s a call of “where’s the pigs in blankets?”

I can’t even say ‘shit!’ silently in my head what with it being Christmas so I rescue the pork products from the oven JUST before they burn and return to the table. I should confess here that dinner is always at least an hour later than I say it’ll be. It’s become a tradition.

Soooo.. dinner late, close call with the pigs in blankets but it’s OK. We’re still on for ad perfect Christmas dinner. Let’s pull the crackers.

Chaos ensues – cracker pulling elbows knock over drinks. I still can’t say ‘shit!’ silently in my head what with it being Christmas. I chirp ‘It’s fine’ clean up mess and yet again return to the table.
“mummy my gravy tastes of lemonade”
For jingle bellsy ho ho ho sakes!!

Ad scene: Huge family Christmas
Loads of kids, mum and dad, aunts and uncles, grandparents. Everyone smiling and dozing and having fun.

Real Scene : Loads of kids, that I can do.
Other than the kids though, there’s just me! Lots of smiles though… well until the early start and excitement catches up with everyone and there’s a bickerfest around 5ish!

Ad scene :
The bit at the end where mum sits on the sofa, sighs a huge sigh and curls up with a much deserved glass of wine.

Real scene :
There’s a brief sit down post dinner before tackling the washing up. Glass of wine that was poured with lunch remains largely untouched but slurps are stolen as operation clean up begins. Then time to prepare supper buffet. Doctor Who is sit down time though. That’s the rules.

So our Christmas isn’t ad picture perfect.

Our tree decs are wonky. Dinner will almost certainly be late and missing a vital ingredient. There are only the kids and I and no rest until Doctor Who. You know what though?? That’s our perfectly, unperfect Christmas.

I love it.

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