The Workingmums’ guide to surviving Christmas

Gingerbread, Christmas, panto


Yes, it’s that time of year AGAIN. How did that happen? Well organised people will have had the whole of Christmas sorted out by September. Some of you may even have shopped for this Christmas in January’s sales with an eye to the impending financial catastrophe. The rest of us, however, are looking anxiously at the calendar as the days speed by before the onset of the December madness, humorously described by non-mothers as the season of goodwill. Here are some tips for surviving the month ahead.

Here’s how to get through it and still manage to make it to January in one piece.

1. If education, education, education was the mantra of the Blair years, the working mums Christmas mantra is lists, lists, lists. Even if they are on an old envelope or a wet wipe, always, always write everything down the minute you think of it and the second before it disappears from your mind for ever.2. Allot particular tasks to particular days so you can tick them off in order and feel some sense of control over the whole thing. That is before the school asks you to make 1,000 things for the Christmas parties/fayres and selects your child to be chief reindeer in the end of term play at which point the whole sense of control thing goes out of the window. Lobby very hard via your child for them to get a narrator role by emphasising how very central the narrator is to all Christmas celebrations and much more important than, say, Mary, Joseph or any animal-related part on the basis that narrator parts rarely involve last minute panic sewing sessions.

3. Limit all present buying to two or three shops or online. Mould all present ideas around these shops by subtly emphasising the benefits of products from said shops at every occasion. It’s called subliminal advertising and if it works for the big guns why shouldn’t it work for you?

4. Give yourself something to look forward to at the end of each and every day in December. The kids have their advent calendars. You need to find yourself an equivalent.

5. Remember to talk to your partner, if you have one, because, as High School the Musical put it so aptly, ‘we’re all in this together’. Otherwise, whole months [and even years] could pass and you may even forget who they are. On the bright side, you could then enjoy the whole getting to know you thing all over again.

6. If you can’t afford a Christmas outing to a panto or such like, get the kids to put one together for you or invest in a bargain basement Christmas DVD and get the entire family, including pets, to dress up for a home cinema Yuletide experience. Ho, ho, ho.

7. Do not on any account invest in cheap shiny wrapping paper. The hours of stress spent trying to get the sellotape to stick to it are not worth it. Limit Christmas cards to genuine rather than Facebook-type friends and keep a few spares for neighbours who will inevitably post a card at 11pm on Christmas Eve in an attempt to make you feel really bad.

8. Don’t get het up about the Christmas dinner. It’s just a glorified roast. The best thing is not to build people’s expectations. Play everything down beforehand and they may be relieved just to survive the experience.

9. Ensure you have at least some time off when you are not rushing in the lead-up to Christmas, even if it is only at the office party. Don’t drink too much or you will end up sobbing over the fact that you are now so old and knackered that you actually welcome gifts of bath salts and bubble bath.

10. Remember to allow yourself ample lost days after Christmas when you drift around in pjs watching endless reruns of Love Actually to unwind so you can build up to doing it all over again next year.


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