The Holidays Are Brutal for Parents

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christmasHere's the thing: I've always loved the holidays. Everything is pretty and sparkly and the kitchen smells good and people give you stuff and there are way more little foil-wrapped chocolates around than usual. Oh, and peace on earth goodwill toward men and that's what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.

Here's the other thing: Holidays once you're a parent are a whole 'nother snowball fight. As soon as I had kids I realized that all that shiny happiness doesn't just magically happen. It's a parent's job to manufacture those warm and fuzzy feelings.

No pressure!!!

Absolutely every aspect, every nuance of the season is fraught with potential parental failure. And yes, I know that sounds excessively neurotic but I also know that no matter how laid-back a mom you might be, a little part of you knows what I'm talking about ...

Let's start with gifts. When your kids are little, you must avoid screwing up the presents at all costs. You just can't screw them up, because if you do, you run the risk of laying a lifelong "Santa doesn't love me because I'm not a good boy!" complex on the poor child.

It's the exact same thing when your kids are bigger, by the way, except the official name for the complex is "Mommy doesn't love me because I'm not a good boy ... and so, I will punish her with horrible adolescent antics for the next several years."

Oh, but it doesn't end there! Consider Christmas dinner. The rule of thumb, essentially, is that your kid will want you to replicate the meal served in his favorite holiday special/movie/book. "But on Caillou's Christmas they ate turkey and you made ham!" "Why can't we have roast beast like the Grinch??"

This goes for other "traditional" holiday practices that may or may not be traditional in your family but have been presented to your child, by a teacher or friends or pop culture in general, as Things Everybody Does at Christmas. Woe to the parent who unwittingly makes a choice outside of the pre-determined box! "But we're supposed to have an angel on the tree, not a star!!!"

I suppose it all works out in the end -- that's probably why A Christmas Story is such a classic film. At some point we all look back fondly at our dysfunctional childhood holidays and laugh, right?

At least that's what I'm telling myself ...

Are the holidays stressful for you as a parent?

 

Image via The Stir

 

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RLT2 RLT2

HEHE -I'm glad I'm not the only neurotic running around here trying to find the perfect roast beast! LOL-I know people it's all about the sentiment and being with family not gifts- I already get, know and appreciate it thanks :) But, in our house-making sure Santa brings that 1 wished for toy is important too, just as important as the fact that the reindeers nibble the carrots or we go see the same light display every year. It's alot of pressure, I agree, but I love it all!

phoen... phoenixmom2011

I enjoy every moment of making the holidays a magikal time for my family, from putting up the outside decor to triming the tree, and from finding the perfect gift to all the baking and cooking to be done, I love the holidays, I find nothing tedious or strenuos about the holidays.

lynnd4 lynnd4

Luckily my boys are just happy with what they get and they don't care about stuff like this. I try to make Christmas magical, but I don't stress over it being perfect. They don't equate gifts with love, but I had to teach them that since grandpa tried spoiling them after he and grandma divorced.

nonmember avatar Priscilla

I must be a different kind of mom because I typically didn't get my daughter what was on the top of her list but I got her something she had mentioned over the past few months and forgot she really wanted. My daughter never acted like a spoiled brat and got upset by not having something someone else had. Thank goodness she was and is happy with any and all things she had and received. She's 16 now and today she is volunteering her time with Toys for tots and used her birthday money to donate to the same organization. I must have done something right!

shera... sheramom4

I have never stressed about anything on the above list. My kids (8, 9, 12, 16) each get a few gifts at home and then have a LARGE extended family that spoils them to death, so we get them one thing each from their lists and then things like art sets, football gloves for my son, watches for each, books, and the Christmas Eve pajamas. This year we also did two board games for the 4 of them (that was a challenge, but they love to play games together). Christmas dinner is usually anything from the full deal to ordered Chinese food (A Christmas Story is my favorite movie, I would love to learn to properly cook duck), and after a trip to Grandma's house in the early afternoon (other grandparents the night before) we come home and chill out. Our tree is far from perfect, our house doesn't look like a movie, and we have cheesy traditions like the pajamas on Christmas Eve, dopey movies all month long, putting glitter (or failry dust) on the porch so the reindeer can find us, and putting out eggnog and cookies for Santa, along with marshmallows and carrots for his buddies and a wrapped bag of cookies marked "for the elves." If one of those things falls through, its okay, its not the end of the world. And if a child's worth is based on how many gifts they get, that is the real problem.

Eques... EquestrianMom

Lol! Are the holidays stressful? OMG! YEAH! I am juggling running a full time business with the cooking, cleaning, oh, and total lack of money for christmas. I think we can get a christmas tree, maybe? But my son is learning at a very young age to appreciate what few things he gets (well, at least from me) and to appreciate giving homemade and personalized gifts, cause we can't afford to buy everyone something. 


 But whats really hard is trying to keep it fun, while hearing OOOH! I want that toy/game/etc! And having to know that "santa" isn't bringing that. Or new shoes. Or knowing that every other christmas has brought us a big crowd, much cheer, and more food then an army can eat, and this christmas, we are gonna make santa skinny, and the guests won't be here. And those who do come are on a potluck basis! Me being stressed is hard to keep under control, so my boy can enjoy his christmas. At least his daddy and their family will make it a merry one for him!

GaleJ GaleJ

Okay everybody, take a deep breath and repeat after me...Christmas is what we make of it! Now please don't make yourself crazy trying to replicate the perfect Hallmark, or for that matter, anybody else's Christmas. Instead just try to relax, be in the moment and enjoy whatever is going on no matter how crazy it all feels. If your kids are constantly asking why you don't do "such and such" just turn it around on them and ask them what they think and offer to adjust as you can. For instance the deal with the star versus the angel on the top of the tree. If you have the "wrong" one let them make whatever they think should be there and if they do make something then put it on the tree. Please try to make it your own and have fun, all to soon they will be grown up. 

momsa... momsangel143

They aren't stressful if you don't make it stressful. Sure I love looking for the perfect present, but after years of stressing I have learned that just being together as a family and celebrating the true meaning of Christmas.

Mom22... Mom22Gurls82

I love this time of year, and for me, the only stress is the chaos surrounding the day itself!  We have multiple Christmases to attend, and after the last one, we are EXHAUSTED!  My husband and I have tried to make Christmas more about the spirit of peace and love rather than the material, and in doing so have taught our children that it isn't about how many gifts you get or how big they are, but that getting gifts at all means that you are loved and thought of during the season as well as all year long.  When we hear a "But I wanted _____", we always remind them that some children don't have any gifts at all for Christmas, and that they should be thankful, because Christmas is a time for generosity and kindess of the immaterial kind, not for being selfish!

Bethy16 Bethy16

I dont find this time of year stressful at all! My kids arr only allowed to ask for one thing and both of them (7&3) said they dont want anything but could they getbsomething they need? He asked for a new karate uniform (his is too small) and she asked for a new blanket for her bed (I already got her one with the princesses on it) They love all of the stuff like decorating the tree and making chocolates. The holidays are what you make it and if you stress it takes the fun and wonder out of it all! Happy Holidays everyone and all take deep breaths!

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