Mum of two, Mumfluencer, and firm Mother&Baby fave Chaneen Saliee tells us about her Christmas plans, plus how she talks to her children about Santa.
Can you believe it? It's almost Christmas. I never used to pay too much attention to celebrating this time of year when I moved out and became an adult. I simply saw it as a time to be highly stressed, trying to get things perfect and organised only for the day to whizz by in a noisy blur. However, since having children I’ve found myself easing back into the enjoyment of it. I have one rule and that is ‘PEACE MUST PREVAIL”.
“The Christmas season is meant to be a time of joy, but for many people it can be a time of stress, anxiety, disappointment or loneliness. Christmas comes with high expectations of perfect, happy families enjoying luxurious celebrations and gifts, but not all of us are able to live up to these ideals.” Explains the experts at Health Direct.
When I was pregnant with my eldest daughter, my partner and I agreed that as a family we’ll make some of our own traditions. Christmas is one of those traditions. Growing up in the UK while he grew up in Nigeria we both celebrated Christmas in very different ways.
In the UK Christmas looked like a good roast, binge watching Christmas movies and spending time in the family bubble. Across the sea in Nigeria, Christmas looked more like a big community celebration, with streets lined with tables and chairs and all the neighbourhood chipping in to share food, drink and music on a warm Christmas Day.
Now we have started our own family, we have decided that Christmas doesn’t have to look a certain way, Christmas can be whatever we make it. And year after year it is different but we chose to make it stress free.
This year the focus is on family and we are celebrating right through to the new year. We have family events and activities lined up each weekend, like an active, weekly advent calendar. Last weekend we got all the family together to go ice-skating, next up we’re going to see the Christmas lights come on in London. We’ll also pack some Christmas treats and pick out secret presents for one another. We’ll deck the halls, play Christmas music and dance a lot. We’re also doing family fun activities that aren’t necessarily Christmas themed, such as visiting go-ape. We just want Christmas to be a time of fun and togetherness.
Chaneen’s Christmas bucket list
Go ice skating
Watch a festive film snuggled on the sofa
Buy Christmas pjs for the whole family
Have an indoor snow-ball fight
Decorate home with lots of light and gold
Do some Christmas baking
Do some festive DIYs (make an angel tree topper, little pinecone people etc.)
Write letters to santa and receive letters from Santa (whilst supporting the NSPCC)
Play board games
Host a pre-christmas pj party
Visit library for Christmas books
Initiate more random acts of kindness this season
Visit a Santa’s grotto
Find a fireplace to cosy up by
Make a blanket fort
Drink hot chocolate and marshmallows with whipped cream
Play elf on the shelf (so excited for this one), Clarkes Closet has amazing handmade, diverse Elves
Take lots of pictures
Laugh. a proper belly laugh daily.
Donate to a shelter
Keep a Christmas Joy journal
Enjoy little moments
Visit a Christmas market
Learn about Christmas others traditions (historical / cultural)
You can share some of my Christmas bucket list ideas or create your own. Have fun with it and know that it can look very different from family to family and from person to person.
We also encourage our family to focus more on spending time and doing fun or relaxing activities rather than worrying about getting the best gifts. If I’ve learned anything since becoming a parent it is that children forget about their toys in a heartbeat the minute a new one comes along. On a day like Christmas where children get up to 10 or more gifts some of those toys do not see the light of day after Christmas Day.
Outings, experiences & vacations are “valued by children, both in the moment and for long afterward in their memory,” psychologist and best-selling author Oliver James explained to The Telegraph. “It’s all about talking nonsense with your parents, sharing an ice cream and moments of time in which your interests are genuinely taken into account. So if you’re going to spend money on something, it’s pretty clear which option makes more sense.”
As long as you don’t spend outside of your means or get too stressed out trying to ‘find’ the best gifts it’s fine to give gifts, particularly if they’ll be used, useful or they’ll bring genuine long term benefits. If it feels like you need to ‘find’ a gift then perhaps consider giving an experience instead. Remember that giving gifts isn’t a tradition for everyone everywhere so don’t feel like you have to stick to that tradition if it doesn’t work for you.
Now let's talk about Santa… or let's not. It’s up to you
Some families carry on the tradition of Santa Claus while others ‘nip it in the bud’ and decide they want their children to know the truth early on in life. Following my tradition of “Peace Must Prevail” Santa Claus is not something that I spend much time worrying about. I’ve decided to follow my child’s understanding and impression and be there to humour or explain if need be. I don’t believe that telling a child that Santa does not exist will ruin their childhood, so I am open to doing that, but also, I don’t believe that it is harmful in allowing them to believe that Santa exists, so I’m open to that too.
For me, over the years Christmas was sometimes about Santa, sometimes a religious celebration, and sometimes about doing what everyone else does for the sake of it. Now, Christmas is genuinely about love, family, fun and doing what we want because it is our lives, it is our Christmas and traditions are changeable.
So you needn’t do much research outside of yourself to determine whether or not you will introduce or keep the story of Santa going with your own children. You know them best and you know how you felt - that's enough to make a decision. Similarly, I’d just like to take a moment to remind you that no-one else has a right to judge the way you chose to talk to your kids about Santa and Christmas - just as none of us have any right to judge anyone else.
Happy Festive Season. As always, I'm sending you love and light.