Monday, 17 December 2012

Managing Christmas expectations

It's easy at this time of year to feel slightly inadequate; you may know you can't afford all the toys the children want, or feel your house isn't quite big enough to fit in all the people who want to stay the night and perhaps it's going to be a struggle to find the money to feed everyone.
I'm sure, apart from the rich and famous, most people feel like that to some extent. So, keep things in perspective and manage people's expectations. Your children may not get everything they want but then who does? And you wouldn't be a good parent if your children got everything they wanted all the time. Explain in advance that Father Christmas simply doesn't have a big enough sack to carry all those presents and that there has to be enough presents for everyone in the world. If there is one big present that your child really does want and you feel they deserve, but you simply can't afford it then see if you can club together with a few other people to get it. If you look back at your childhood Christmas's, it isn't the presents you remember but the coming together of families and having fun together - keep this thought in your head! If it is your turn to host Christmas but you are struggling for money, then ask everyone to bring a part of the meal and if there are offers of practical help make sure you take them up. Some families meet up on Christmas Eve to prepare the vegetables or set the table which cuts down on what you have to do on the day itself. Mums and mum-in-laws are normally very willing to help and even if you prefer to keep the kitchen to yourself you could ask them to bring dessert or the starter, which they can prepare in their own home. Everyone is aware money has been particularly tight for many people for the past couple of years. So, if you struggling be honest with those that are coming to you over Christmas and ask if they could bring some drink or desserts, for example - I've never known anyone who isn't willing to chip in. If the list of people you buy presents for gets bigger every year it may be time for a cull! We have started to do a 'secret Santa' in our family whereby you draw names out of a hat and you only buy for one person, alternatively you can put a strict limit on the amount of money you spend on each person. There's no need to feel embarrassed about suggesting this; most people are normally very relieved that someone has. The festive period should be a time of happiness and of family traditions. It isn't about feeling stressed and inadequate. You will be doing the best for your family and that will be enough for them. You will never be able to please everyone all the time, but although there will always be people who are better off than you, there will also be plenty of people who have less than your family and unfortunately may not be as happy as you. Christmas is a time to count your blessings and for ensuring your family have the best possible time within your limits.

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