Why you don’t need to create a magical Christmas this year

Christmas memories with a family

The Magic of Christmas

Creating Christmas Magic. As a planner and a perfectionist, I went into parenting with some very definite ideas of the type of mom I was going to be. (Spoiler Alert: Epic Fail).

One of the items on my rather extensive list was to make sure that my children have a magical childhood-doesn’t that sound just so dreamy and perfect?

And what better time for magic than Christmas season?

You don’t even have to look far for ideas. There are loads of wonderful boards and social media posts with lists and inspirations on how to obtain this goal. From guides on how to decorate until your humble home looks like a Christmas movie set, to ideas on how to prove to your child that Santa was indeed there.

Elves on Shelves, special apps adding Santa to your photos, letters to Santa (and then of course letters back from Santa on genuine-looking personalised stationary which you need to magically procure from somewhere). Christmas Magic sure has become a lot of work, right?

And please don’t forget the advent calendars, reindeer food on your porch, Christmas scavenger hunts and all the sibling and family traditions you need to establish. Jingle baby all the way.

If you are feeling a bit like a crazy Christmas elf, you are not alone. But I bet Santa doesn’t keep a naughty list for moms failing at yet another expectation set for them on social media platforms. So relax mama, you won’t get coal in your stocking this year. Let me tell you why.

But first, why do we do this to ourselves?

There are few things that warm a mother’s heart as much as the joy on a little one’s face. And of course, kids do find joy in many of these activities and traditions. Whether they really need to have all these things to find that joy is another question.

Should Christmas Magic not be something that happens naturally?

We also remember our own childhoods and the things we found magical. Decorating the tree, and waiting to open our presents. And yes, Santa did leave us something in a pillowcase hanging on the bed post. But it was not nearly on the same level and with the same effort from my mom as what is expected from me as a mother today.

Personally, it feels like I can protect my kids from the harsh realities of this world a little bit longer by keeping some fairy tale myths alive- I don’t think there is harm in this.

So why is it a problem?

Well, because mothers are led to believe that you have to do all these things for your child to be happy.

So instead of just allowing yourself to catch your breath and recuperate at the end of another long and busy year, you have to join the reindeer race to creating the Perfect Christmas, with time and money and energy that you just don’t have.

Instead of it being something positive and joyful, the holiday season leaves you feeling even more tired and deflated than before. Which is of course exactly what your family needs – an exhausted mom stuck in a rut of guilt and shame, over something that she actually didn’t do wrong at all.

I also do believe that we raise a generation of ungrateful children that are so used to the world turning around their wants and needs, that this is what they come to expect. Sadly this does not bode well for their lives as grownups one day.

Now for the good news – why you can relax about it

Here’s the truth- Children don’t need adult intervention to find magic and joy.

Childhood is a magical time on its own because they are innocent and still allow their imaginations to go wild. In fact, by ‘providing’ all the magic and entertainment you rob them of the opportunity to use their own imagination and to look for it themselves.

Sometimes a little boredom is the best gift.  And these are skills that will really aid them later in life.

So by all means choose a few activities and traditions that you also enjoy. But see them in perspective, and don’t allow the process to steal your joy. Your child will benefit by simply spending time with you.

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Christine Klynhans is a midwife and lactation consultant with a firm believe that gentle parenting can change the world. She has worked in midwifery since competing her B.Cur nursing degree in 2004, and has a special passion for education and for writing. She currently works in a well-baby clinic and give antenatal classes and breastfeeding support. She enjoys working with parents of babies and toddlers, aiming to help them find gentle solutions to their parenting problems and assisting them in incorporating healthy habits and natural health alternatives into their daily lives.