Don't Let the Christmas Guilt Get You as a Parent!by Jenny Taylor
If there is one thing I make sure I am aware of every year, it’s how much I buy my kids for Christmas. Or rather how much I don’t buy them! Too often, we are guilted into buying more than they need. Too often, we push our budgets far beyond our means that isn’t necessary.
Why do we do it?
Guilt? Competition? The need to give them more than we had as kids. Whatever it is, we need to stop. In a world full of expensive technology and gadgets, the pressure to buy more, buy bigger, buy expensive is pushing us over the edge.
In reality, the kids will be excited and happy with whatever they are given. It’s usually the things we least expect them to connect with too. My daughter’s favorite present last year was a glow in the dark, bouncy ball in her stocking that cost 20p.
I try to keep the balance of what I can afford to give them, what the trendy toys are, and make sure I am not overdoing it for them or me.
You can buy too much!
I have witnessed kids saying things like, “I don’t want to open any more!” Or worse just ripping each gift open and tossing the presents behind them. Only caring how many presents they got or is it the same number as their siblings, despite a higher price tag.
I was guilty of “the Christmas guilt” when I had my first baby too. I have been there. I wanted to give him the most magical first Christmas he could possibly have. Looking back, it was completely ridiculous. He didn’t have a clue what presents were, he was petrified of sitting on Santa’s lap and didn’t understand why he was told to rip this box open when the rest of the year he is told not to touch or rip anything.
Would he remember his first Christmas? No! Will he remember his second or third? No! Even leading into age 4 and 5 where the Christmas magical really starts to sparkle…are you overdoing it for you or them or both? At ages they can’t remember, I stick to a minimum. You know the moment they open that first gift they will just want to play with it. Simple!
Trying to beat the year before!
Once they get to about 5 years old and start to remember Christmas and ask for specific gifts, the next Christmas guilt we feel is the need to outdo the year before. Now we are not only in competition with the latest trendy toy selling out or what the kid’s friends will get as the latest expensive gadget but we are actually competing against ourselves. How crazy is that! The notion that you have to get a bit more or a bit bigger the next year only will make Christmas when they are in their teens really hard for you and your wallet. I keep the same budget from age 5 for each child every year. If they ask for something more expensive, one year it was the only present they got and their Christmas stockings. You know what…they were completely ok with that and didn’t even question it.
As parents, Christmas isn’t the only time we guilt ourselves into getting in over our head. For some parents, its a daily feeling. Guilt for working too much. Guilt for not having the latest gadgets or toys. Guilt for hand me downs. Guilt for shouting when we have had a long day. The long list of parenting guilts is never-ending. So why do we put even more pressure on ourselves during Christmas?
This year has definitely had its challenges for the world. Everyone’s situation and experiences have been different. So we need to be kind to ourselves and not let the guilt of everything else pile up on us.
Why not make this Christmas a guilt-free Christmas?
Make a list of things to do that don’t cost any money if money is tight. Buy a bunch of little, fun gifts for the kids so they feel like they have been spoiled without the hefty prices. There are loads of sales on now, so plan ahead and buy earlier so you don’t get overwhelmed closer to the big day.
Get yourself a glass of mulled wine, make a small budget and a strict list to stick to for each family member, and don’t overwhelm yourself with Christmas. Make this a relaxing, guilt-free Christmas. It’s not about how much you buy your kids, it’s the memories of what you do with them that they will remember when they are grown.
Do you remember what you got for Christmas at age 5, 6, 7, or even 13? I don’t. And if one sticks in your mind that’s great but my biggest memories are making Christmas cookies, dancing to Christmas music, and painting Christmas baubles. I ask myself, ‘what will my kids look back and remember?” and that’s how I plan Christmas!
Here is a fun holiday tip: Pull out old jumpers and have an ugly Christmas Jumper crafting day. Get the glue, stickers and ribbon out and wear them on Christmas Eve to lift the spirits of the whole family