As the first Christmas after having a baby rolls around, everyone starts telling you that Christmas is going to be so special from now on. It’s going to be magical, wonderful, you’re going to make so many special memories… But there are some key things that no-one tells you about Christmas with toddlers, and you have to discover all by yourself. Here’s my tongue-in-cheek guide
1) The pressure is on
We’ve all got those friends on Facebook. The ones who have those lovely, well-behaved children, who post pictures every year of all the brilliant Christmas things they do with them. They make their own cards with little paint footprints turned into reindeer. They bake and decorate Christmas cookies. They share gorgeous pictures of their whole family in matching jumpers and everyone is looking at the camera AND smiling! So you figure you’ll have a go. You get out the brown paint and explain to your 3 year old what you’re going to do. You can see in your head how the reindeer cards are going to turn out… And when they turn out looking like poos with eyes (yes this is what my version resembled!!) you give them out anyway, and the family still love them because you and your small person made them with love.
2) Nothing is safe.
Once they are on the move, the tree, the gifts, the decorations are all so wonderfully alluring! Shiny, sparkly, bright coloured things! You find yourself unable to turn your back even for a minute, for fear they might end up either unwrapping Auntie Barbara’s present, or under the toppled tree. I repeat: nothing is safe!
3) Elf on the Shelf will ruin your life
It seems like a fun idea. This little elf visits for advent and perhaps he hides around the house, or maybe even gets up to some kind of mischief. But when you already have a million things to remember, with Christmas rapidly approaching, the chances of remembering every single night that it needs moving are fairly minimal. If you’re anything like me, you find yourself remembering JUST as you’re dropping off to sleep, and having to traipse back out of bed and downstairs to desperately find somewhere to shove it, before your small person finds it unmoved from yesterday and starts freaking out. By Christmas Eve you’ll have resorted to shoving it up a coat sleeve and hoping for the best.
4) You need to be an expert personal shopper (of sorts)
If, like us, you’re lucky enough to have a big family, chances are there are many people who want to shower your little one with gifts at Christmas. But – here’s the thing – they often also want your input. My second son already has everything – because his brother had it all before him. It’s hard enough to think of things to buy him myself – let alone coming up with ideas for 8 well-meaning relatives asking what he wants. Apologies to my sons who are almost certainly getting pyjamas from everyone this year as I resorted to a default answer!
5) Sometimes they’re little baby Scrooges
You’ve found the cutest costume, which you can’t wait to get them into and show off to everyone. It’s going to be utterly adorable. But they decide they’re not playing ball and sit there dressed as the world’s grumpiest reindeer. (Ok I’ll be honest, they’re still pretty cute despite the sulk!)
But, in all honesty, Christmas really does become more magical. This year, my smalls are 2 and 5 so it’s the first year they’ll both get it. The little one’s face when he came home and saw the tree that I had put up (with a bit of help from his brother) was just lovely. I can’t wait to see them on Christmas morning when they open their presents together… It will almost make up for the sudden cold sweats every time I realise I’ve forgotten to move the elf again!!