I’m Planning an Average Christmas this Year

December 6, 2017 | 21 Comments

I’m feeling like a failure at the moment. There are so many balls in the air, demands and pressures that I’m just not keeping up. And the one area that I really feel I’m being distinctively average at lately is parenting: because I’m not doing enough to make this holiday time magical for my kids.

Where does this inner dialogue come from though? There’s a clear answer: social media. And although social media is to blame a teeny bit, I know that the primary responsibility of monitoring my usage, and of monitoring how I REACT to what I see on there, lies squarely with me. But I also completely know why I feel this way. This is how my thought process goes:

Scrolling through Instagram: Oh look, that mom has made her own advent calendar using recyclable educational wooden toys. Shiiiiiiiiit ADVENT CALENDARS – I forgot! *rushes off to Woolies on 31 November only to hear that they are out of stock. Runs to Pick n Pay and wrestles the last overpriced Lindt one from under another mother’s nose. Thinks back to the days when I was a kid and all we found behind the little windows were random festive pictures (not chocolates). And also how our parents made us reuse them, so we had to sticky-tape the windows closed again and act all surprised next year when we opened them up again.

Fast forward to the next day when I glimpse some gorgeous reindeer cookies another mother has made with her child. Baking! I MUST bake something with these kids of mine! And the Ina Paarman Brownie mix doesn’t count. Or does it?

Next day: sees multiple imaginative places friends have hidden the Elf on the Shelf, and handwritten notes and magical dust they have sprinkled. Compares it to last night when we had a few glasses of wine and we forgot to move our blasted elf, so we had to scream downstairs at 5:55am and toss her from above the stove to into the grocery cupboard.

Other days: sees pantomimes parents are at with their littles ones, mother & kid crafting tables, DIY wrapping paper, gingerbread houses people are decorating, all the festive wreaths I’m not making and table settings people are already planning for the 25th.

Why am I such a failure?

Although am I really? No. Because the mom making the cookies is probably not the same one hand-making wrapping paper. Or the same one that has made her own tree with artwork the kids produced all year. Most of the time at least, these are completely different people but they begin to form this one ideal in my mind of how the “perfect parent” is acting over the holidays, and how everyone is doing a better job than me.

But this needs to stop because it is damaging to our own happiness. Because we’ll always feel “less than”. Because we’ll cause ourselves stress, when all our kids really want is time with us, whether we’re singing a silly carol, or lying outside on the grass, or heading to the beach with an empty yoghurt container in our bags (I keep meaning to remember to buy a new bucket and spade and I keep forgetting).

Does this mean I look down on those who make an effort? Not at all! In fact, I’m clearly envious of their festive and magical skills. But I need to monitor my reaction to everything I see, lest I become confused about an ideal that’t not even real. I need to remember that we had very little of these activities or shows growing up, and our childhoods were not short on magic. Not at all.

So of course they’ll get presents – although some may be last minute Crazy Store vibes.

There will be delicious food too, planned much closer to the time, when I’m not up to my ears in work deadlines.

There may be nice table decor but there may also just be some shells the kids picked up on the beach because we’re staying in a rented house.

But there will be love and laughter. Warm days and cold drinks. Full bellies and sandy feet. A blessed life and a memorable holiday season, albeit not a “perfect” one. Who’s with me?




  • Reply Kajol December 6, 2017 at 8:54 am

    This post was absolutely FABULOUS!!!
    Last night as I put my 7 year old daughter to bed, I discreetly shed a tear – all because schools are out and she has to spend 3 weeks of the holidays with the daycare aunty (and my 20 month old is there as well), and I felt hard done by coz I have to work whilst many of my friends are SAHMs who are already baking etc etc with their kids…..BUT on the flip side we have the last 3 weeks of holiday planned together and in between they’ll be getting the undivided attention and the simple things in life that make kids happy and not the false realities that we create for ourselves as you said.

    This post just struck a chord – and no doubt we all do our best for our kids -despite social media wanting us to think differently and despite the unrealistic pressures we place on ourselves!!

    Happy Holidays 🙂

    • Reply Belinda Mountain December 7, 2017 at 8:07 pm

      Ah I understand why you felt so sad Kajol, but your kids will have a great time until you go on leave – and such special times await over the holidays! Enjoy every minute with them, x

  • Reply Louise Jackson December 6, 2017 at 9:22 am

    Can totally relate! A completely overwhelming time for everyone… Haven’t even got off my backside enough to get my brother and his wife their birthday presents (and they were in Sept and October respectively!). Have only just managed the teachers’ gifts and donations at school (last-minute charge around the shops). And yes, we started the advent calendar a day late. Woollies also out of stock but a lucky find – Clicks for R20. And the chocolate is YUM according to Tom 🙂

    • Reply Belinda Mountain December 7, 2017 at 8:08 pm

      Oooh Lou – bookmarking the Clicks calendar for next year!

  • Reply Elana December 6, 2017 at 9:50 am

    I relate to everything is this post! I am also working so hard and it feels like there is no end in sight. I feel so guilty to have my children in aftercare for the first two weeks of the holidays, but then again this was our life as children and we still LOVED holidays and turned out OK. 😉 We are doing okay.

    • Reply Belinda Mountain December 7, 2017 at 8:09 pm

      You are certainly doing okay Elana and your kids will turn out fabulously – just like you!

  • Reply _eatwithaspoon December 6, 2017 at 9:55 am

    Totally with you here! Time for all the things when work calms down, right? Even if those things are just the ordinary things, they are ordinarily magical when you do them with love.

  • Reply Jo December 6, 2017 at 10:41 am

    Thanks Belinda, all you said is so true. Us Mums need to learn to be kinder to ourselves!

  • Reply Cath December 6, 2017 at 10:52 am

    The Ina Paarman Brownie mix totally counts!

  • Reply Cassey Toi December 6, 2017 at 11:53 am

    Such a great post lady. Imperfect is perfect, and as long as there are laughs, hugs and love I figure we’re doing okay.

  • Reply Nats December 6, 2017 at 11:54 am

    I’m sorry you might be having a average Christmas……100% effort for New Year though…..No slacking Bee!!

  • Reply Nienke Richardson December 7, 2017 at 3:40 pm

    I loved this post. This morning I had to run to work and my 3yo was crying for me to stay. My natural instinct was to say.. “Blake, Mommy will buy you a puzzle or Mommy will take you out when she comes back from work…” He responded: “I WANT NOTHING… please stay home Mommy!” Needless to say he continued crying as I left home and I balled my eyes out on my way to work. Our kids wants US! Yes the advent calander and all the exciting elves are fun… but all they really want is US! Quality time with their parents….

    • Reply Belinda Mountain December 7, 2017 at 8:12 pm

      Oh I HATE THIS! I’ve been there Nienke:( So hard. Wishing you many wonderful moments together these holidays. x

  • Reply caleyjaderosenberg December 7, 2017 at 6:29 pm

    YES! YES! YES! Everybody’s magical Christmas looks different to another family – you do what works for you, what you are able to do and what your family will love and enjoy!! x

  • Reply Bridget McNulty December 9, 2017 at 9:37 am

    Totally – and also, I always remember when I take ‘perfect’ Instagram shots of the kids baking together happily… and 10 mins later there’s a total meltdown that isn’t captured. I use Instagram as a way to freeze slices of joy in time, because a lot of the inbetween stuff is less joyful… so I try to remember that other people are probably doing the same!

  • Reply Caroline Scott December 10, 2017 at 12:26 pm

    Great post. Virtual parenting and real life parenting are oceans apart in reality It’s difficult being a mother today. It’s far too easy to compare and beat yourself up with virtual comparisons. Looking forward to 100% effort for New Years.

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