A common reaction when people first hear of how many children we have is usually asking us whether we are completely and utterly mad (very likely), followed by asking whether we have a television (yes, but mostly everything on it is total rubbish), and then commenting how great but busy Christmas must be.
Here are 3 rules I live by when it comes to keeping my head and my wits about me at Christmas:
I try to stay organised
When the family was much smaller I was much less prepared for Christmas and not as organised as I am now. As the family grew, I realised that things were far more manageable if everything was spread out over a longer period than the six or seven days right before the 25th that I previously allowed. Now, I try to shop throughout the year and aim to have the main gifts bought by the end of the first week of December at the latest. Not only does it help with budgeting but also ensures that I can usually get those ‘absolute must-haves’ popular products that shops usually sell out of closer to the date. Last week, when Mike took 11 of the children to participate in the Remembrance Day Parade, I stayed home with a supply of hot coffee from Gourmesso.com and a stack of presents which are now wrapped and stored. The turkey and pigs in blankets have been bought and I feel far less stressed than I was two weeks ago.
I know that more expensive gifts don’t equate to a better Christmas
Too many people think that spending more on gifts will mean your children will have a better Christmas. It doesn’t. Realising this freed me from a lot of pre-Christmas pressure and post-festive financial ruin that would often run into the following year. Our kids don’t really watch mainstream TV but stick to Netflix, so they tend to ask for what they are actually interested in rather than the latest fad. This means that there is an annual staple gift stash of art and craft stuff and Lego, all of which can be bought throughout the year when there is an exceptionally good deal on. Besides, our house isn’t a mansion so there is only room for so much ‘stuff’. So we tend to give gifts of experiences rather than things, and keep most of the ‘things’ small and inexpensive.
I brace myself for the Christmas Vomit Fairy
When it comes to Christmas decorations I know that the kids will want to go wild and my house will look nothing like the beautiful interiors magazines. The tree will lean to one side because all the baubles will be hung on a total of three branches within an inch of each other. Someone will step on the lights. There will be an argument over whose turn it is to put the angel on top of the tree and all hell will break loose over who is wearing the tinsel when they shouldn’t be. As a result, our Christmas décor looks the result of a visit from the Christmas Vomit Fairy. But this is what life with so many children looks like.