Christmas stress

It happens every year. One minute Christmas is ‘ages’ away, the next it’s crept up on me and suddenly it’s a few weeks away and I’m nowhere near ready.

I’ve seen stuff on social media that you shouldn’t let Christmas affect your mental health. Of course you shouldn’t, but it’s also really hard to cut down on Christmas. I don’t have anxiety or depression, but I am one of life’s worriers and I would be lying if I said it didn’t affect my mental health.

I’ve seen something else on social media saying women shouldn’t do all the work for Christmas and that men are perfectly capable of helping. Of course they are, but it isn’t always practical. My husband works 12-14 hours a day. Every day. He still has 17 days’ leave to use up before 31st December, which clearly he isn’t going to use. He is the main breadwinner and I only work a few hours a day. My job is to look after the kids.

And unfortunately Christmas is an extension of that.

I don’t hate Christmas, but I’m not one of those people that gets overly excited about it, either. I don’t love buying presents, I don’t love wrapping presents and I don’t love decorating the house and tree (although I quite like it).

I would happily do Christmas every other year.

Because getting ready for Christmas is pretty much a full-time job. A full-time job which has to largely be carried out while my kids are at school. While I’m supposed to be doing my part-time job, earning money for the family.

This year, we have 18 people to buy for, including our own kids and my husband. We don’t buy for many adults – just my parents, my mother-in-law and my brother. With the other adults, we have an agreement that we will just buy for their kids. But even the adults we do buy for are hard work. My parents don’t like ornaments and clutter. They don’t like candles and toiletries and all the stuff which is endlessly recommended on gift guides. So buying for them takes a fair bit of thought. And, believe me when I say, I really do try to get it right. Because my parents are amazing. They’re always there for us, helping out when the logistics of life gets a bit too much. They deserve a good present.

We have a fair few little ones to buy for and they’re easy. I would go as far as to say I DO enjoy buying for them. Because you can buy pretty much anything. There are so many toys and books to choose from, so many gorgeous cute clothes.

And my daughter is a pleasure to buy for too. She’s 12 and there’s lots of nice stuff out there suitable for 12 year old girls. She also chooses what she wants and lets us know, right down to allocating presents to her grandparents etc.

Then there’s the teenage boys… Seriously, have you ever tried buying for teenage boys? We have our own two, plus two other family members to buy for. While we can get away with vouchers for the other boys, we have to buy proper presents for our own sons. And I would love to buy them something meaningful and something they really want. But boys are notoriously difficult to buy for.

My younger son genuinely doesn’t want anything. He has everything he needs already and doesn’t see the point in getting things he doesn’t need. This is a great attitude to have. But it makes Christmas quite challenging. In the end, he opted for some new headphones. His beloved old headphones, which he wears for hours a day, have broken slightly, so he wants some new ones. They’re expensive ones, slightly over the budget, but it means we literally don’t have to get him anything else. (We don’t really do ‘stocking fillers’, partly because the boys are so hard to buy for and I’m also a big believer in not causing excess waste by buying stuff for the sake of it.) Luckily, he doesn’t mind that he won’t get anything else, because that’s all he wants (clearly he will get stuff from other people, which may or may not be what he wants).

Then there’s my eldest. Who has recently developed a taste for expensive clothes. He’s earning more money at his new part-time job and also seeing these brands as he goes into work and now he wants them for himself. So the budget will only run to a couple of T-shirts and a couple of pairs of socks, at £18 a pair (yes, really!). Luckily, he knows the value of these items, so doesn’t mind that he won’t get ‘much’.

My husband and I took a very rare day off work to do Christmas shopping, and actually managed most of it, which massively relieved my stress. We even did my brother’s present, which we usually end up doing on approximately 23rd December.

If I had my way, all Christmas shopping would be done between the middle of November and the start of December, but it never works out like that.

Needless to say, there are still a few bits left to get, including the other two teenage boys in the family, my parents and something else for my niece, who most inconveniently has a birthday very close to Christmas.

And the Christmas stress hasn’t completely gone, because now I have to find hours which don’t exist to wrap presents and hours to write the Christmas cards. Every year, I moan about Christmas cards, every year I say I won’t do them next year or I will do less of them. And every year, I write the damn things again, moaning as I go.

And on Boxing Day, you will find me breathing a sigh of relief that Christmas stress is over for another year.

Christmas, Christmas stress, Christmas presents

Clearly my presents don’t look ANYWHERE NEAR as good as this

Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash

Author: Sarah Mummy

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  1. I am a control freak when it comes to Christmas. My fella does help and is willing to but only when I let him. hehehe
    I only have to buy for one teenage boy, my nephew and that’s enough. He’s nearly 18 and he usually ends up with vouchers.
    This year I am donating to the hospital where my girls had their heart surgery instead of sending out Christmas cards.

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    • So many people donate to charity instead of sending cards. It is a good idea! I give a fair amount to charity throughout the year, but don’t do a specific Christmas donation. My husband has good ideas for presents and I’m always happy to accept his help. Unfortunately he just has very little time, so the bulk of it falls to me.

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  2. Oh yeah I get this. I’m not that keen on it all either. I need to find the time to make my Christmas cakes but I’m about done other than that, I did virtually all my shopping online and I’ve bought brown paper and string to wrap things in because I hate the waste. I don’t really do cards either, for the same reason. I think your children are great in knowing what they want and not wanting much, so much easier than children who want the world on a stick as they get older!

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    • I’m really pleased that my kids don’t want too much. I think we’ve taught them the value of things quite well over the years and they all know that there is a budget for Christmas. I love the idea of wrapping in brown paper and string. I really should try that. They will recycle non-foil wrapping round here, as long as it doesn’t have sellotape on it. So you will find me pulling it all apart for recycling on 27th December! x

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  3. Have to admit to being glad my children are grown now as far as Christmas is concerned. I was always a trawler of charity shops when they were young and it never really dawned on them that some of the boxes had no wrapping on, just made it easier to open them – and Santa has to check some toys and random by opening them and looking.
    I use to like spending the day with them and just playing, but agree it is such hard work beforehand and you do wonder if it is worth all the stress for one day.
    I don’t do cards anymore either but buy a donation for a food bank instead. As I dont give I dont get many so not got to worry about having them cluttering up the place.
    A small fibre optic tree again this year will go up on the 24th and down on the 27th and only going up cos the kids are coming over on 26th else it would not be.

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    • It is so much trouble to go to for one day! It’s good that your kids never questioned why some of the presents weren’t wrapped. It just proves that a lot of people go really OTT with Christmas and it really isn’t necessary.

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