For all the talk of Christmas being “the most wonderful time of the year”, spare a thought for all the exhausted mums out there. Because for them, it’s also one of the most stressful.
Not only are they navigating their normal (monumental) to-do list and mental load, they now have a once-a-year extravaganza to organise on top of everything else. A high stakes event that the kids have been looking forward to for weeks (which she has almost certainly been worrying about and planning for far longer). There are gifts to buy, magic to keep alive, decorations to put up, lists to put together, cards to write, Christmas school admin to manage, festive meals to plan, places to go and people to see.
The pressure to make it all happen is immense. And despite how much the family dynamic has changed over the past 50 years, for some reason festive responsibilities have stayed stubbornly stuck in the past, with so much of the Christmas workload still ending up on mums’ shoulders.
This week, I surveyed more than 400 mums on Instagram to get a sense of how they are feeling in the run up to Christmas, and the results were worse than I imagined. Only 1 in 20 are feeling jolly or festive, with the remaining 95% saying they feel knackered, stressed and overwhelmed by what they still have to do. Shockingly, 70% of mums said they are left to manage almost all of the Christmas admin by themselves, with only 10% feeling like their partner equally shares the festive workload.
While 20% of mums said they are happy with this unbalanced arrangement, 8 in 10 wish that us dads would do more to share the load in the run up to the big day.
If we want to break this cycle and give our partners the Christmas they deserve, it’s up to us to step up to the serving plate and take on more at this time of year. I asked the mums exactly what us dads can do to help lighten their load this Christmas, and here are the 10 things that topped their festive wish list this year…
Get involved in the planning early
Sit down together, write down a plan of who is doing what and when, and don’t leave it until Christmas Eve to finally get your head in the game.
Don’t expect her to buy presents for literally everyone
Come up with gift ideas yourself, sort presents for all the relatives on your side of the family (at the very least), and get ordering now so everything arrives in good time.
Get involved in the end of term madness
Keeping track of Christmas school admin is a full time job, and so the more “on the ball” you can be about all the key dates, special events and random things your kids need to bring into school every day, the less stressful this final week will be. Two minds are always better than one here.
Wrap like you’ve never wrapped before
Present wrapping is such a time consuming job, so the more you can take on, and the earlier you can start, the better.
Up your game around the house
With so many additional tasks on your partner’s to-do list in December, take on more of the domestic chores at home than usual. If you see something that needs doing (washing up, cleaning, ironing, changing sheets, clearing up after the kids etc), don’t wait to be asked. Just do it!
Give her a chance to let her hair down too
If you’ve had three work Christmas parties already this month while she’s been left holding the fort at home, make sure she can have a night or two out with her own friends before Christmas too.
Don’t leave her present to the last minute
After everything she’s done for the family this year, and all the effort she’s put into making Christmas a special time for everyone, make sure the presents you get her reflect how much you appreciate her. As a general rule, when buying gifts for your other half, domestic appliances should be avoided at ALL COSTS (unless she’s specifically asked for one!).
Be merry (but don’t take the piss!)
Going out and getting rat faced on Christmas Eve and leaving her to put the kids to bed and sort all the final preparations before the big day is never a good look.
I know how hectic this time of year can be, but try to get some time off in the week before the big day to help look after the kids during the school holidays. Better yet, take them out for the day so your partner can have some peace and quiet, or just get on with Christmas jobs without the kids hanging around her neck.
Help keep the magic alive
Even if your work schedule is crazy in the run up to Christmas, do your best to be home in good time on Christmas Eve so you can get the kids ready for bed together, put out a mince pie for Father Christmas and hang up their stockings as a family. It won’t be the same without you there.
So, come on guys… let’s take note, give mums what they really want this Christmas and make this the best one yet!