Do YOU BREAK THE RULES at CHRISTMAS?

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I LOVE Christmas with children.

It is full of joy and laughter….But what I especially love about the festive season is that you get to break all the rules and blame it on Christmas. This year was our first as a family of four and I did not want it to end. Seriously. EVER.

Because I knew once it was over we would pay for our sins. And we did.

We began the New Year as we definitely DID NOT mean to go on.  With an overtired, biscuit junkie, TV addicted toddler and a baby who had gone from being a really bad sleeper, to just refusing to go to sleep at all. And it was all Christmas’s fault. Stupid, joyful, brilliant Christmas….

THINGS WE BLAMED ON CHRISTMAS THIS YEAR

1) LATE NIGHTS. On a normal non-Christmassy evening we have a bedtime routine that we stick to NO MATTER WHAT. Whether we are sick, exhausted or have the flu, we do dinner, bath and bed at the same time every day.  We do NOT leave the house after 6pm unless we really have to, and if we are out we RETURN before 6pm. After all, we are told time and time again about the IMPORTANCE OF A CONSISTENT ROUTINE and if we dare to stray from the system who knows what might happen?  We could turn our children into obese psychopaths, criminals or worse…so best not to risk it.

Except at Christmas.

At Christmas we can come home late, skip bath time or let the children stay up a bit later, you know, to ‘wind down a bit,’ because they are ‘far too excited to sleep.’  But deep down we know that the only thing the baby is excited about is new Stuff to eat off the floor in the form of pine needles and mince pie crumbs etc. And at two and a half, while the toddler likes the presents, (for about five minutes) she could probably take or leave the whole thing.

2) EXTRA BISCUITS.  So you have presents to wrap, cards to write or simply really need to sit down for five minutes after shopping all morning … out come the biscuits! Now I am guilty of Biscuit Parenting at the best of times, especially now I have two very demanding little ones to look after.  There is literally nothing the toddler won’t do for a chocolate Hobnob; and a Biscotti will keep the baby occupied for a good ten minutes. I bribe them with biscuits on a daily basis.  But over Christmas, at least, I don’t have to feel so guilty about it…

3) TOO MUCH TV.  On a good day I have television rules. Thomas the Tank Engine serves as a Really Useful babysitter while I have a shower and make dinner, but I usually have the TV off in between.  But what with all the shopping, present wrapping and re-decorating the tree every few hours, we had to call on Thomas more often than usual.  And then of course, there were the festive films that we claimed ‘the kids will love’ but secretly just wanted to watch ourselves.  In reality, the baby thinks the TV is for wiping her hands on and unless it is about tank engines, the toddler is NOT that interested. But it was Christmas so we persevered.  We put on the subtitles, gave the girls a biscuit, and through a smear of sticky handprints, attempted to watch them anyway.

So for the first week of 2014 we reaped what we had sewn during the Christmas holiday.  The toddler’s sleeping patterns were all over the place, meal times were messed up and arguments about watching Thomas were a regular occurrence.

But it was TOTALLY worth it.

As parents we spend the entire year following all the rules. You know the ones I mean. The Rules we set for ourselves to ensure our children are happy and healthy and have some chance of turning into decent human beings.  So by December we are tired.  The sleep-deprivation and the constant worrying about being a Perfect Parent has taken its toll and we desperately need a bit of down time.  And Christmas holiday is the perfect excuse for this.

But after a couple of weeks of quiet time at home (which is actually quite nice after Christmas anyway) things are finally back to normal. The toddler is sleeping again, the baby (aka The Sleep Thief), is still keeping us awake, the biscuits have been eaten and Thomas is taking a short break…

So this is my new Christmas tradition. From now on during that last week of December I will TRY to have a break from the worrying, the schedules and the routines, and just enjoy some guilt-free family time.

And if my kids do turn into obese sociopaths because of it, well, I will just blame Christmas…

Emily-Jane Clark

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About Author

Jonathan

As well as being one of the founding members of refluxSUPPORT...Jonathan is a Board Member and trustee of Living with Reflux – the only UK Charity for infants with reflux related conditions.He is also a stakeholder in the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) – Gastro-oesophageal reflux in children and young people.He has three daughters of which the eldest is now seventeen. Two suffered from severe reflux.