If, like me, you’re a working mom you’re probably actively into the run up to the end of term and Christmas. As all working mothers know, the Christmas countdown for us starts much earlier than December. Working mums need help NOW!
If you’re like me, by now you have probably:
- Started or even finished the Christmas gift buying
- Let relatives know what to buy for your children
- Decided where you’ll spend Christmas
- Booked holiday care for the days that you’re not off work over the Christmas Holidays
And undoubtedly a whole lot more besides. Now, all you have to do is maybe a hundred or so other things to prepare for Christmas, then make it to the End of Term with your sanity intact.
It sometimes seems that these times of year are specifically designed to torture all parents and particularly working mums. School plays, Nativity plays, Christmas Fairs, Non Uniform Days – the list goes on and on!
Here’s a list of the additional social events in my diary over the next few weeks:
- Fred’s Christmas performance (Key Stage 1)
- Max’s Christmas performance (that’s Key Stage 2, so it’s at a different time of course)
- Fred’s school visit to the forest and Father Christmas’s grotto
- Children in Need Day (will have been and gone by the time you read this) – means non uniform, donation, make cakes etc)
- School Christmas Fair (I’m on barbecue duty. Chris is PTA Chair)
- 2 x Christmas parties for 2 x boys
- Norwegian waffles and decoration making at school for Fred – parents invited
- Fred’s 5th Birthday Party (30+ kids plus assorted parents and honourary guests 3 days before Christmas)
- Family visit to Santa on a farm
- Girls’ Christmas lunch with mum friends
- Girls’ Christmas evening out with mum friends
- Girls’ Christmas day out with close girlfriends
- Evening Christmas “do” in a pub with friends
- Christmas get together supper with friends
- Christmas get together lunch with friends
Stop press: Just added:
- Freddie drumming at Chester Cathedral
- Christingle service (this Sunday at 4pm: Note went out Monday)
Wow! Lots of fun ahead for everybody on my list, but of course there’s also the organisation that goes behind all this and I know that YOU know who is the primary organiser or babysitters, food, children’s entertainers, logistics, presents, Christmas cards and so on and so forth! No prizes for guessing.
So, here are four tips for working mums to help you to get to the End of Term with your sanity intact and a smile on your face:
1) Don’t, and I repeat, DON’T feel guilty if you can’t do it all
So you didn’t quite manage to sit down with your child and make each of his or her class members an individually hand painted Christmas card? Fear not!
And you weren’t able to bring in a basket of lovingly baked and skillfully decorated mince pies as a thank you to your child’s hard working teacher and two teaching assistants? Don’t fret!
And you may have had to miss one of the seven End of Term concerts? (Scheduled at the oh-so-convenient time of 2 pm on a Tuesday of course!) Forgive yourself!
As a working mother, it’s not possible to do it all and no one but you expects you to, so relax, choose the activities that mean the most to you and your child and focus on them, even if that’s just managing to scribble out a few Christmas Cards to their closest friends. One thing I do instead of Christmas Cards is to make a donation to a charity such as Oxfam as a “gift” from my children to the school. You can donate an amount that is used to buy exercise books for a third world school, for example. This is a great way to do some good, raise social awareness in your children… and reduce the stress that often comes from trying to cajole your kids into writing Christmas Cards.
2) Get Organised
Do a list. Yep, a list. Preferably one that you can bring out term after term and year after year. Depending on which term you’re approaching the end of, it can include things like checking their school uniform for sudden growth spurts or irreparable damage before the school uniform shop closes, buying teachers’ presents well before the night before term finishes, getting contact details for some of your child’s closest friends so that you can arrange play dates during the holidays and informing your boss early that you are going to need the odd morning or day off for school events.
Make an extra effort to go through your children’s school bags to ensure you are getting all of the newsletters and notes being sent home. This is traditionally a busy time for correspondence, we all know that children are not always reliable in passing information on and there is nothing worse than finding out about a meeting / assembly / very important event when it’s the night before! Try the “handle it only once” rule with every piece of paper. As soon as you take it out of the school bag, enter the details of the event/meeting/school trip into your diary/organiser. If it requires action, take action straight away if you can. If not, write a memo on a notice board or set a reminder on your phone so that it doesn’t slip under the net.
3) Remember that they love it!
It might be a crazy time for working mum but end of term is traditionally a very exciting time for children. Not only are holidays looming, but the concert they’ve been working hard on for weeks is about to take place, the certificate they’ve been working towards all term will soon be awarded and did I mention, Christmas is coming?
Try to avoid passing your stresses onto your children and instead, allow yourself to be infected by their enthusiasm and joy! Resist the temptation to tell them that rearranging your work schedule and sitting through their umpteenth concert isn’t as exciting for you as it is for them – praise them for their efforts with a big smile on your face (even if you are gritting your teeth) and get excited about your grown up Christmas social occasions as well.
4). Family Chill Out Time
Lastly, block out time to “flop” with your children in between all the festivities and socializing. Chill out with a cuddle and a Christmas story on the sofa in front of a crackling fire, schedule a pyjama morning this Sunday, have a family video night with a festive film and a big bowl of popcorn. If your children are relaxed and happy at this time of year, you might find some of it rubs off on you!
Being a working mum at the end of term requires that you supercharge your already finely honed skill set of organizational skills, time management, multi-tasking and self-cloning. It helps to remind yourself that all of us as mums – working or stay at home – are in this crazy, wondrous game of parenting together. It’s worth the madness!
And after all that, remember that time passes quickly and it all gets done. You coped last year and you’ll cope this year!
Hope you have a wonderful Christmas, lots of fun and a manageable run up to the end of term! I’d love to share Christmas wishes with one another, so do post your holiday wishes below and offer some support for your fellow working mums. Don’t forget to visit Coaching Mums to view our latest FREE resources for helping you achieve more balance in your life. If you’d like a little inspiration and support delivered free to your inbox, click here to sign up for my free ezine; Inspire.