The Naughty List, The Nice List and…The ‘Mum List’

The Naughty List, The Nice List and…The ‘Mum List’

How to find calm amidst the chaos of the festive season.

by Kate Okello Tarrant – ‘Mrs. OT’

No sooner have you finished your last secret mouthful of your kids Trick or Treat haul (mum tax for an evening spent pacing the cold, dark streets in drizzly weather) before you are suddenly confronted with final reminder emails to book Christmas experiences that allegedly started selling out back in August. The in-laws declare they want full interactive registries for the kids Christmas wish lists and you’re not sure if you can make your writing tiny enough to input the plethora of nativities, bake sales, carol concerts, and winter fetes onto the trusty family calendar – and this is before you’ve worked out the logistics of visiting all 60 family members, conveniently dotted about between Devon and the Scottish Highlands.

Whilst there is a part of me that revels in the magic of trusty Mr Claus bringing joy to the world, with stockings full of gifts miraculously delivered overnight – I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that there aren’t moments I’d quite like to out the whole affair in recognition of the (IMO) true Christmas heroes – mums.

I’d also like to add St. Nick has a full workforce of enthusiastic elves and trusty (flying!) reindeer to aide the operation, whereas, I’m certain many husbands are just as surprised about the contents of the kids presents as the kids!

Whilst I say all of the above with a side of humour, the truth is, the festive season – and the lead up – can be particularly overwhelming. Especially if you find yourself with the lion’s share of the juggling act on your plate.

It’s wonderful how many things there are on offer, particularly here in the capital, but, with that can come a crippling amount of pressure and the dreaded FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out). Whilst I, too, have had the unhelpful internal dialogues of worrying about not having booked the ‘best’ Santa’s grotto or ending up with the 9pm slot at Kew (traipsing around with overtired kids and frozen toes), I came to realise that the only person piling on all the expectations was… well, me.

So, here is my little stocking gift for you, in the hope it helps lighten your load (and your mindset!):

“Kids, Family, Tradition, Me”

Okay, so it doesn’t quite have the same ‘jingle’ as the ‘Want, Need, Wear, Read’ initiative that I’ve been slightly enamoured by for the gift giving season, but, I do think my own coined version carries the same value and effective outcome (if I may be so bold to say!).

If, like me, you could have your arm twisted into splashing out on every single sparkly marketing invite that comes your way, and rarely give much credit to yourself for how much you pull it out of the bag each year, then perhaps give my technique a try:

Something for the kids: What do they really want to do? Involve them. It’s up to you if you ask them to make a joint decision, rota each year which one gets to choose or allow them to pick one thing each if you have the time/capacity. If you have a tiny non decision-making person, what would you like their special thing to be that year?

Something for the family: What would you all love to do together? Is it visiting light displays, Winter Wonderland or perhaps a Santa train that caters to all of your winter fancies? There is a joy in that this can be different every year, so you can work your way through the multitude of options.

Something that’s tradition: There is comfort in traditions and they can often become some of a families most treasured memories. For example, my folks have attended the pantomime every year since I was a tot, and I honestly felt a little lost when Covid struck and we didn’t have that yearly pilgrimage! Find something that is ageless that you can keep as a staple part of your festive schedule – even if it’s as simple as a matching set of M&S PJ’s on December 1st! – then you can tick it off your list early without hesitation or doubt.

Something for you: This is arguably the one I’d like you to prioritise the most, because quite frankly, we don’t do it enough. Sure, it can look like getting babysitters in and going out for a mulled wine (or five) with your other half -and please, do that! – but I’d love you to ask yourself what YOU would really enjoy this Yuletide. How can you rest and recoup, and what can you have to look forward to when you’re trudging through the thick of it? Is it a night with your girls, a solo spa day out or perhaps attending a luxe mum event hosted by yours truly over here…(!)

I fully believe that there is a lot to be said about the joy of simplicity. The above method can provide welcome structure as well as reassurance that everyone’s needs have been catered for over the winter break. I also think it can help establish boundaries with family: “we will be visiting [here] on [this date] and would love it if you could join” so you don’t find yourself constantly having to adjust your schedules and timings to meet others needs. It allows flexibility for those last minute invitations that do come through; you know you’ve met your quota, so you can let the rest of your calendar fill up organically – and on your terms – as it inevitably will over this busy period.

Looking after your wellbeing through it all is key though, mama. We may be able to give our family every thing their heart desires, but a mum who is content and enjoys each moment with them during this time is probably the real unwritten item at the top of their list… so perhaps it’s okay to pop it at the top of ours, too!

For regular, honest mum talk from Kate, with a maternal mental wellbeing focus, be sure to follow her instagram @_mrs.ot and check out her website to view more content and upcoming events!

Pictured above: Kate Okello Tarrant
Main article image: Unsplash