Everyone who knows me, knows that I’m a bit of a perfectionist. I am your typical Pinterest mum. I have this deep rooted need to make sure every tiny detail is perfect and planned to the last second! Holidays have an hour by hour itinerary, days out are planned using many, many lists and birthdays and special occasions are organised months (years…) in advance! I always have so many plates spinning, I don’t know what’s what most days.
Until Henry came along. I’ve already spoken about how hard I’ve found it adjusting to being a mother of two. Alfie’s at a difficult age, I’m constantly tired and snappy, my husband and I don’t get any time together…life has been hard this year. But that is exactly why I am making some changes, starting with Christmas.
Last Christmas was awful. I was heavily pregnant, not dealing with it very well, I had constant anxiety and stress, I was feeling under appreciated at work, but also feeling like I was doing everything wrong (but not really caring because I was leaving). Because it was Alfie’s last Christmas on his own before his little brother joined us, I was adamant it had to be perfect. We had to get everything right, down to all the tiny little details otherwise it was all going to be ruined.
And even with all my advanced planning and stressing to make everything perfect, it wasn’t perfect. It was nowhere near perfect. It was possibly the worst Christmas I’ve ever had. In my head anyway. Most people would probably think that we had a brilliant Christmas but because of who I am, it wasn’t perfect to me. A lot of it is to blame on pregnancy hormones – I went a little crazy and wasn’t myself at all when I was pregnant – but some of it is purely down to my own desire to have the best, most Instagramable Christmas you could ever have. But, of course that doesn’t really exist.
Alfie was 2 and a half last Christmas and I was hoping he would be really excited about it but he didn’t really understand or care what was happening. We had an accident with TWO special baubles that got smashed (I cried both times). I wanted to do lots of lovely crafts and Christmas baking but 1) Alfie has the attention span of a gnat (nothing has changed) and 2) I was just exhausted all the time!
On Christmas Eve Alfie wouldn’t sit and watch the film I’d picked so we all ended up going to bed early. On Christmas morning my husband’s phone failed to record Alfie’s reaction to seeing his presents under the tree (and it was a pretty awesome reaction!) We had a quiet Christmas at home just the three of us and it was so odd. I’m from a huge family so am used to lots of people and lots of noise and this just wasn’t how Christmas was supposed to be. I cried a lot – I couldn’t be bothered to get dressed but cried because I felt like a slob. I cried because I didn’t want to cook dinner but my husband was doing it all wrong (he wasn’t). I cried because I looked fat in my outfit (I was 35 weeks pregnant and no one saw me anyway…).
Mentally it was not a good day.
So, this year is going to be different. This year I don’t want it to be perfect. I’ve still planned lots of things and I’ve thought carefully about Christmas presents and days out but the difference is I’ve not put loads of emphasis on these. I haven’t shared a lot so I’m not competing with anyone. I’ve coached myself over and over that Alfie isn’t going to enjoy everything and that’s ok – I need to take joy in the things he does enjoy.
So far we’ve done a few Christmas days out and they haven’t gone to plan but I’ve learnt to remember and love the bits that were great! Our first Christmas outing was to see Father Christmas on the train and after hearing so many people rave about it, I was thoroughly disappointed. I thought it was expensive for what you got, the description was misleading and the toy was cheap! BUT Alfie had an amazing time! He loved being on the train and seeing all the different scenes in the woods. He loved seeing Father Christmas and adores his little toy. He got to have his face painted and was so pleased with it! And he got to eat a hot sausage roll which I’m sure was the highlight of his day! And that’s really all that matters.
Our second Christmas outing was also a bit pants. We went to the zoo, but it was pouring with rain, we got to the front of the panto queue to be told it was full and all the animals were hiding because of the cold. So we only stayed an hour and then went home. But we went home and had hot chocolate, Christmas biscuits and a cosy film so actually it was a brilliant afternoon in the end.
This year I am determined to see the best bits for what they are – our boys making memories! I still want to have a lovely Christmas, especially with it being Henry’s first, but I’ve lowered my expectations MASSIVELY which means less pressure on me, less stress for me and hopefully a more enjoyable festive season all round. I am going to take joy in my boys opening their presents, knowing that Father Christmas has been to see them and then spending the day with my family and having lots of fun with them. This year is going to be low key, low expections but hopefully filled with lots of love.
Here’s to a thoroughly average Christmas!