I braved my local supermarket this afternoon to grab a couple of last-minute Christmas bits and pieces and buy all the food for the festive season.
It was horrendous in there – so busy. People were getting frustrated because items they needed were not on the shelves, the queues at the checkouts were huge. I witnessed a few episodes of trolley rage.
While there, I also bumped into four other mum friends all doing the same as me, all looking frazzled about getting everything done in time for the big day.
It got me thinking just how much we mums do in the run up to Christmas.
I’m sure in some households that dads, grandparents and other family members are the chief Christmas organisers, or it’s done equally, and in that case, this article applies to you too. If you’re a lone parent solely or predominately in charge of Christmas, whatever your gender, then this most definitely applies to you.
But after quizzing my mum friends, in most families I know, it seems to be the mum who spends every last minute in December doing her best to make Christmas so magical for her family.
For a lot of us, it starts months before December, picking up bits and pieces in the sales, smuggling them into the house and hiding them from little eyes. We’re on the email lists for all the toy shops so we know exactly when they are running special offers, or when that must-have toy comes into stock.
We are the ones booking the festive events, the tickets to see Santa, and organising festive get-togethers with friends.
We are the ones up late shopping online for gifts. Arranging childcare not so we can have a couple of hours chilling out, but so we can go Christmas shopping without the little people (and calling it me-time, no doubt).
And in December, it goes into overdrive.
We are the ones buying the Christmas cards, writing them, posting them. Sitting with our young children patiently while they write cards for all their little class mates. Sourcing costumes for their school nativity. Helping them learn their lines. Presents and cards for their teachers. Maybe even organising a collection for a joint class present and chasing all the other stressed parents at the school gates.
Not only do we buy the Christmas presents for our children, but often we suggest ideas, order and deliver gifts to grandparents and other family members to pass on to them too.
A lot of us also seem to buy the presents for everyone in our other half’s family. I was chatting to some of my mum friends last week and all of us were joking that our respective husbands will be just as surprised on Christmas Day as our in-laws when they open their presents.
We plan in festive film nights and festive cookie decorating and the rest of it. We get into bed and remember we forgot to move the damn elf so we get back up again, even though we are exhausted. We tidy the house in the run-up to Christmas and have a good clear out of all the old toys to make room for the new ones soon to arrive.
It can be mentally and physically draining.
I was trying to figure out just why so many of my mummy friends are the chief Christmas organiser in their house. Most of us are in pretty equal relationships with our other halves. Most of my mum friends work or stay at home to look after their children, or a combination of the two, so it’s not like we have bags of spare time. In fact, most of us spend all year feeling like we are juggling too many balls and never get a moment to ourselves at the best of times. Yet every year we somehow find the time to make Christmas as memorable and magical as we can.
Are women generally more predisposed to Christmas organisation than men? Are we more emotional and sentimental about it all than our other halves? Is this one of those jobs that we women naturally pick up because we love it, or couldn’t bear it not to be done in the way we imagine?
I read an article a little while ago saying that women are more likely than men to be the organiser in the relationship – birthday cards and presents, booking social events, and the rest of it. Christmas just seems to be one huge extension of that. In defence of my hubby at least, he excels in certain areas of household management such as doing the bins, general DIY and anything car-related. And as I’m vegetarian, he has cooked up an amazing Christmas dinner on several occasions. (Admittedly, I’d done the online food shop and pre-made desserts and a few accompanying dishes, but he was chief chef and was awesome.)
Who knows why we women seem to be the real-life versions of Father Christmas?!
Whatever the reason, we don’t get the credit in any case.
We act surprised when we see what the elves have been up to in the morning. And when our little ones see what Father Christmas has bought them. We let the grandparents take the credit for gifts we’ve sourced on their behalf.
It wouldn’t even occur to us to take the glory. Because to see the excitement on our little ones’ faces, to feel the magic all around, is reward enough.
So to all you chief organisers of Christmas, mums and otherwise, who are absolutely exhausted by this time of year and wondering if it is all worth it.
Well done! You are amazing! You totally rock Christmas!
And in case nobody has said it to you, thank you. Thank you for buying and wrapping all the presents, thank you for writing the cards, thank you for getting all the food, thank you for all the magic you’ve worked so hard to create.
Thank you for making Christmas so flipping awesome for your family.
Thank you for creating today their happy memories of tomorrow.
See all of my Christmas posts here.