December brings a sackful for overwhelm and guilt for parents. It is full of lists of things you should be doing - from visiting Santa to the nightmare of Elf on the Shelf. As an antidote to all of that, here is our Not To Do List for December.
1. Do not start Elf of the Shelf.
The sinking feeling when you get into bed when you have not done the elf is like no other. There is plenty of magic around this time of year without an elf. If you really do feel like you want to have an elf, make him or her part time, even once a week. Don't feel FOMO at seeing the social media photos. Look behind the photo and be glad that you are not scouring Pinterest at 10pm at night looking for ideas.
2. Don't finish all your shopping by 1st December.
It's good to be organised so you can relax and soak in all the excitement but if your little ones believe in the magic of Father Christmas, you feel the pressure to get them what they have asked for. There is a feeling reserved for parents when someone asks their child what they want for Christmas and it is not what you have bought. Especially when it is the must have toy.
3. Don't leave your wrapping until Christmas Eve.
Christmas Eve is the calm before the storm of Christmas Day. It's arguably better than Christmas Day. Don't fill it with lots of things to do, keep it simple. See it through your children's eyes. Which are filled with magic.
4. Don't compare your Christmas to Christmas' you see on social media.
The hardest one to do but the most important. Comparison is the thief of joy. Don't let those fingers scroll.
5. Don't have expectations of how your Christmas Day will be.
If this is your first Christmas as a family, you may have expectations of how it will be. It probably won't be anything like what you imagined it would be. Set the bar low. Overwhelm can affect children too and if you have expectations of how the day will be, it can be a recipe for disaster.
6. Don't go and see Santa when your baby is small.
It is so tempting to get the obligatory photo and have the experience with Santa. It can be completely overwhelming. An alternative thing to do is to take them on a walk to see the fairy lights instead or a trip to a garden centre with all the decorations.
7. Don't take all the photos and not be in one yourself.
Your children will want to look back on photos when they are older and see photos of them enjoying Christmas with their parents. Make sure you get in front of the camera.
8. Don't go over the top with presents.
The cliche is true. They will want the box. They will want to play with the thing that isn't a toy. Ask friends and family to buy experiences instead of gifts. Things that last all year like National Trust membership are such good gifts.
9. Don't go off-list.
You can spend so much time choosing surprises only for them to be still in the box 11 months later unplayed with.
10. Don't worry you haven't done enough.
You are enough. That is all that matters. Your little ones want parents that are present at Christmas time. If you only remember one thing from this blog, let it be that.