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Doing It All: 15 things you don't have time for at Christmas now you're a mum

December 20th 2014 / Emma Bartley / 1 comment


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A time for giving, a time for laughing, a time for waking every hour in the night to soothe a coughing child and now you want us to start fiddling about with fairy lights? Don't think so...

As I’ve documented before, mums of small children don’t have much spare capacity at the best of times. And the run-up to Christmas is not the best of times. So excuse me if I don’t manage to find a moment for...

1. Meeting up before Christmas

I get that everyone wants to do this, but I needed to book a babysitter back in June, and obviously I did not do that.

2. Fairy light issues

So one of you little f***ers isn’t working and I have to go through twisting each one around until we find out which one of you it is? While my desperate toddler weeps LIGHTS ON PREASE? MUMMY LIGHTS ON PREASE? Never going to happen, my twinkly friends - I’m binning you and buying a new lot.

3. Birthdays

I know that you're 80/my godchild/my sister, and of course it's not your fault your parents were too stupid to realise that unprotected sex in March was a bad idea that would saddle you with joint Christmas and birthday presents for life, but there's only one person whose birthday I have time to think about in December and that is Lord Baby Jesus. And, er, sorry the card is late.

4. Stylish home decorations

My friend Lucy hand-crafted her own holly wreath for her front door. When? How? Mine’s going to be a £12.99 job from Wilko. And it will show.

5. Going to the Post Office to collect things

Pretty much guaranteed that you can occupy your house solidly for three days and the moment you go out to buy bread/nappies/milk/vodka (see 15) is the moment the postman will arrive with all your shopping.

6. Thoughtful gifts

I can just about get something for everyone if all the men get booze and all the women get bath products. Confession: it doesn’t help that every time I attempt to do my Christmas shopping, be it online or in a real, actual shop, my brain goes “Shopping! I remember this! Look at that silvery skirt over there we need that we need it we need it! You can wear it on Christmas day! Aaaaand there's the checkout.”

7. Pre-Christmas diets

I told myself I was going to lose a couple of pounds before Christmas, to offset the couple of pounds I’m going to gain, but that didn't happen. You know what happened? Mince pies happened.

8. Santa politics

Different branches of the family spending Christmas together means you have to agree in advance whether presents go by the bed or by the tree. Which stocking gifts are wrapped and which aren’t (there’s always someone who wants to put a sodding bow on a satsuma)? Can we hide one set of kids from the other so they don’t realise that FC has been significantly more generous to the ones with rich parents? Is there a way to do this without causing a bitter rift that will last for generations? Almost certainly not.

9. Christmas cards

Sometimes I think about what would happen if humanity could start again, from scratch. Would we still bother inventing Christmas cards? As the person pulling an all-nighter tonight to finish them off (my husband will write some if I give him whisky but appears to believe that they address and send themselves), I rather think not.

Since her third baby arrived my friend Annie can't even bring herself to open hers: "Something to do with the accumulating guilt of not having had time to write any for, well, years actually."

10. Elegance

“Christmas is the one day of the year I allow myself to wear a fancy frock and heels when dealing with the children,” says my fashion writer friend Stacey. “I feel fabulous for about an hour until something goes wrong - the baby pulls the tree to the floor, the dog eats all the turkey, the toddler throws up a stolen stash of chocolate - at which point I relent, open a bottle of wine and change into reindeer slippers and a dressing gown.”

11. Delivery delays

Listen up, Australian toy shop. If the toy I bought my nephew isn’t available for three weeks YOU SHOULD NOT HAVE DISPLAYED IT ON YOUR WEBSITE ON DECEMBER 23.

12. Kodak moments

We dressed the baby up for a photo in front of the tree last year - reindeer slipper socks, festive bib, the whole bit - but I hadn’t washed my hair, or slept properly for six months, and the flash washed the three of us out so badly it looked like The Christmas of the Undead.

We all know someone who has a blog full of beautiful photographs of their families - kids outdoors in cute bobble hats, or playing quietly in front of the designer range cooker - but I like to think that immediately after these shots are taken their kids start emptying all the cupboards and banging their heads on the floor. Like mine.

13. Parenting

I took my daughter to soft play so I could write some cards this week. She’s also been watching quite a lot of Peppa Pig. #mumoftheyear

14. Disease

Of course, they’re all ill at this time of year, which means they’ve given it to you. But you have to just carry on as usual (my husband particularly enjoyed the part where I lost my voice and had to do all my nagging and complaining in a whisper for two days).

15. Sobriety

See all of the above. •swigs mulled wine•

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