Christmas can be a very stressful time for many parents so here are a few mistakes often made, that new parents can learn from.
1. Santa forgets to drink the milk and eat the cookies
Obviously Santa's not on the ball here. In the morning, if said milk and cookies are still on the table and the kids spot them first, let your kids know that maybe Santa is lactose intolerant and you maybe should have left juice and carrots instead. Unfortunately this means next year 'Santa' will be dining on vegies but this is well deserved because, really, is wolfing down milk and a few Tim Tams really that hard to forget?
2. Leaving surprise remnants of Santa
Eight-year-old Ryan announces to his siblings that Santa's footsteps, left creatively across the floor leading to the tree, are actually made with baby powder. Explain to the little ones that maybe Santa was delivering baby powder to some newborns for a present and spilt it on himself before entering your house. Then have Ryan vacuum it up, so that he doesn't speak up again. Next time, opt for scentless carpet cleaner, so Ryan can leave your carpets cleaner than they were before Christmas.
3. Running out of wrapping paper
Don't stress. No one really cares if there are gaps leaving peepholes into the gift. I'm sure no child on earth, EVER, has stopped mid-unwrap to comment on how the edges of the paper aren't meeting. Granted, babies and toddlers are more interested in the wrapping, but a small piece is usually just enough to keep them entertained.
4. Leaving preparation until Christmas Eve
You've pictured it and played it all out in your mind. Sam wakes up, runs down stairs and finds a brand new bike under the tree ready for many adventures, or Riley follows the reindeer trail that leads to a fairy tale cubby house in the backyard. Forget it. If you're planning on putting anything together on Christmas Eve, you've got a screw loose (pun totally intended). No parent has ever undergone this process and managed to wake up relaxed and refreshed on Christmas morning. Find somewhere else to store the gift so you can prepare it way before Christmas Eve, or drum up some excitement in your child by telling them you'll be putting the cubby house up together later on.
5. Santa photos
You've taken the littlies to your local shopping centre for their first Santa photo. BIG mistake. Instead of dreaming of a magical man who floats in through the chimney (or Crimsafe security doors) and leaves presents and goodies under the tree for all the good children, your kids are scarred by the site of a HUGE, larger-than-life, REAL, scary man with a white beard and no presents. I don't know about your kids, but I certainly wouldn't want him scurrying around my lounge at midnight.
6. Advent calendars
A sure fire way to ensure that on the last stressful 25 days leading up to Christmas you're dealing daily with crazy sugar-hit children. Or worse, one child forgets their chocolates five days in a row and decides to make up for it on Christmas morning. If you thought the kids were already hyper, add a big lump of sugar energy to the mix.
7. Christmas wish lists
Consider these a contract. Many times the innocent Christmas list has helped mums and dads around the world suss out what their kids would love for Christmas. Beware! Some kids will expect exactly what they've written down. Even worse, the lists are sent to 'Santa'. Unless you want to spend Christmas Day explaining to your child why Santa didn't deliver a pink unicorn or Taylor Swift to your doorstep, casually bring up the topic of what your child likes as if it's just something to talk about. If you're feeling a little more 'Inspector Gadget' eavesdrop on their conversations or pop into their rooms and ask them just as they're about to fall asleep. They won't remember a thing.
8. Christmas bonbons
No child gets excited about popping a bonbon if the only thing that comes out is a red paper hat, a 'dad joke' and a new pair of nail clippers. Check the back of the box before you buy it and make sure it's age appropriate.
9. Christmas tree decorations
There is nothing sweeter than having the kids make decorations for the Christmas tree. These are adorable but try to limit them to one each a year. No one can bear to throw out anything made by kid's cute little hands, so do the math. Three kids, twelve years? You'll need a VERY big tree.
10. You forget to cancel Christmas
You'll wish you did. Many times. But only until you see the absolute joy only Christmas can bring to their little faces.
For more of Marianne's honest parenting advice click on over to Enough With the Lemons