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Fighting The Festive Mum Guilt

I get mum guilt over, well, everything! My current favourites are: how much my toddler eats, whether I am giving my toddler enough attention, the fact that I haven't had a full social media black out following the birth of my newborn like I did with the first. And, of course, the biggie: Christmas.

Festive mum guilt is kinda like regular mum guilt but on steroids. It consumes you. Where once was a woman who could just put up Christmas decorations without it having to be a thing now stands a woman (with bigger eye bags and slightly greyer hair) trying to put up Christmas decorations whilst also worrying about whether it is a special enough experience for the children. A woman worrying about whether we have enough Christmas traditions. Whether we are really cherishing this time enough. Whether our tree is as big as the other kids have at home. Whether she is doing enough. Whether she is enough.

This year I have felt this hard. I guess because this is our first Christmas as a family of four, there is a huge pressure to make the most of it. And it is the first Christmas that Ava can really get involved so I can't really use the excuse of her just being a baby anymore. I find myself scrolling through Instagram and comparing myself to other mums who are taking their kids to meet Father Christmas or going away on festive mini breaks as a family or just having a really nice house which is beautifully decorated. And it sucks. Especially as we aren't in the best financial position at the moment. And it does get to me sometimes. I do wish I had more money to buy the best gifts and fill every day with activities and have a really nice, comfortable home for us all to enjoy. And the whole pressure of the season really exacerbates these negative feelings. Where I should be just enjoying the festivities, I am instead worrying that the memories we are making as a family aren't good enough and feeling guilty that I can't provide a better life for my children.

And I can't say that these feelings have fully gone away. I still struggle with the whole Christmas mum guilt - especially over presents. But I have learnt that the root of this stress is two things: comparison and consumerism. I find myself comparing my bad days to the highlight reel of other people's lives. I mean, no one shows their toddler's tantrums on insta, do they? And that makes me feel bad. Sure, it is true, there are people that are better off than I am. And the majority of the people I follow on social media are in a far more comfortable financial position. But that doesn't mean that there is no value in what I have. It doesn't diminish how much Ava will enjoy the gifts she gets this year. And just because my house may not be 'insta-perfect', I should be grateful that I do have a home this Christmas.

The other cause of stress is consumerism. At this time of year, ever shop and brand and company wants your cash. So they give the hard sell. They align love with how much you are willing to spend. And it also makes you feel like what you already have isn't enough because they never want you to be content in what you have (else you won't need to buy more, right?). This feeling of gifts being somehow an indication of how much someone cares about you - an idea that is deeply imbedded in our culture and my mind - makes the mum guilt go crazy. You start to think that the love you have for your children has to be proven. And I felt so bad that I can't give Ava all of the things I know she will love because I simply can't afford to.

But then I realised that what is more important is time. Giving the gift of time is the most valuable gift I can give my children. Giving them attention. Sharing my everyday with them. And the memories that stay with you aren't always the fancy meals out or designer labels, it is in the small things. It is the dog stealing the Christmas turkey off the table. It is singing along to Christmas songs in the car. It is walking around the village at night looking at how everyone has decorated their houses. The small things make Christmas and make memories that last a lifetime.

So, this year, I am not going to let the devil on my shoulder make me feel inadequate. I am not going to overspend. I am going to take it easy and breathe. I am going to let myself enjoy the festivities. I am going to put my phone down and just be in the moment for a bit.

You may also enjoy:
I'm Not A Cool Mum & That's OK
I Love My Postpartum Body But...
An Honest Conversation About Being A Mum Of Two
Reclaiming My Identity Postpartum

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