Festive Family Smiles and Stresses


T H E  L O W - D O W N (12)

I sat down to write a post about our lovely family festive weekend. I recounted how we began Saturday with swimming lessons and then some Christmas shopping, followed by a trip to see the ‘real’ Santa at Castle Howard. With sold out tickets booked a the beginning of October this promised to be a magical, memorable day (which it was).

The thing is, as I wrote about all that we had been up to I realised something was missing…the truth, the whole truth.

You see, I noticed that I was doing something we can all probably relate to – glossing over the facts, projecting an Instagram perfect picture. There’s nothing wrong with that sometimes, after all, who wants to hear every nitty gritty part of our day!

We all know what parenting can be like sometimes!

I do think though that although Christmas is a lovely time of year, it doesn’t come without it’s fair share of family stress. So, I started my post from scratch and decided to tell the truth about our festive family weekend, including smiles and stresses!

Saturdays start with our eldest’s swimming lessons – she loves swimming but not actually having lessons so we were pleased when it all went off with minimal drama. An improvement on last week….

Feeling buoyed by our swimming success we decided to go to our local designer outlet for some hot chocolate, the play area and to get some Christmas presents. My brother in law came with us so we even had a great ratio of adults to children (i.e we outnumbered the children!). The trip started off well enough as everyone was happy having their Starbucks treats. Where it began to go slightly wrong was when we attempted to do some browsing with the two year old on her reins – I love her dearly, she is cheeky, funny and gorgeous. Did I mention she’s cheeky? As in she likes to escape and run around like a lunatic, whilst laughing at your attempts to contain her.

Naturally our eldest thinks this is brilliant and loves nothing more than joining in – it’s a situation that can deteriorate pretty rapidly. Some days it’s manageable, on one of the busiest shopping days of the year…not so much! We needed to be in the play area, not the shops, lesson learnt. The hard way!

We bundled them back in the car for the ride out to Castle Howard. We have all been so excited about this visit, I managed to get us tickets before they sold out in October (crazy, I know). Rather than a brief meeting with Santa this was a 40 minute experience with a small magic show and then audience with the man himself. Age appropriate presents given out by name and generally an all round lovely family day out.



Unfortunately for us we had two things going against us at this point. 1. my husband had been let down by an employee and now had to drive to Wakefield to pick something up meaning we would have to leave straight after Santa, which is a shame as Castle Howard is lovely. 2. We had two over excited children, the youngest of whom was missing her nap.

Castle Howard was fantastic, the girl’s were in awe of their surroundings and the ‘real’ Santa was very believable and charming. The room where it was all held was very atmospheric, complete with roaring fire and low lighting. All the children sat on little red chairs  – I was so proud of how my girl’s sat together, our eldest with her arm around her sister when she looked a bit unsure.



All the children loved Santa, I don’t think there was a non believer in the room!

Like most children, ours aren’t that keen on disappointment and our eldest was very disappointed that we had to leave straight away. Cue two parents trying to remain upbeat and super positive on the way back to the car with our eldest acting like the world had just come crashing down – it didn’t help that Santa had given her a really really girly present (she’s a total tomboy). As I explained, Santa just likes to broaden children’s horizons!

It was a day of ups and downs. The ups were fantastic, the downs were stressful.

On the Sunday we decided that the best family thing we could do was put up the Christmas tree, and we were right. The girls had so much fun rummaging through all the boxes with decorations, stockings and old bits of saved wrapping paper. It was extremely messy – at one point it looked like Christmas had literally exploded in our living room!


Once we had everything out I put on some Christmas songs and we all decorated the tree. Everyone was really relaxed and I only had to turn the volume up once to drown out their squabbles!! Joking (ish).


We all had a great time and it really did remind me that we are at our happiest when we’re just together and not trying too hard.

So that was our not perfect/Instagrammed festive family weekend.

As I write, I’m looking at our Christmas tree and remembering their happy faces and the laughter as we were decorating it.  Life isn’t perfect, it can be really stressful at times, but I wouldn’t change it for the world.

How are your family Christmas preparations coming along? Stressed or sane??


Super Busy Mum
And then the fun began...





16 Comments on Festive Family Smiles and Stresses

  1. fi_hum@hotmail.com'
    Fiona @ Free Range Chick
    9th December 2014 at 5:04 pm (4 years ago)

    I hear you. Things are definitely easier when you don’t try as hard. Young kids are so predictably unpredictable, and trying to achieve too much can add to the stress. I have a three-year-old who enjoys running away also. Fun times! Looks like the decorating was a tonic. If I had my way, I would disappear to the middle of nowhere with the hubby and kids for Christmas. We’d have a super time in the country, we’d have walks, we’d cook together and watch our kids refuse to eat, and not care because there would be nobody to spectate and commentate on our family life. I refuse to get stressed by it, by I can’t help but notice how much nonsense and pressure surrounds Christmas.

    • Claire
      10th December 2014 at 10:16 am (4 years ago)

      We actually spent last Christmas up a mountain in Spain with my parents for Christmas and it was great! I spent the weeks before we went getting really stressed about getting presents sorted/early Christmas. Once we arrived all that stress disappeared, there was so much less fuss (and a lot less commercialism). We spent Christmas day on the beach, it was a really welcome departure.
      So this year we seem to have dived head first right back into it, and although meeting Santa was lovely a lot of the stress is coming from trying to do too much. Lesson learnt, we’re going to try and scale it back over the next couple of weeks and enjoy ourselves a bit more!
      Thanks for reading. Xx

  2. mumturnedmom@gmail.com'
    Sara (@mumturnedmom)
    9th December 2014 at 10:13 pm (4 years ago)

    Ah, yes, the running away… My two year old is also a fan! I am very disorganised this year, but I’m trying to just let it go. I will not be managing to do everything that I had planned, and that’s ok, the important thing is spending time with my family. No days are completely picture perfect, but finding the good bits, that’s the trick :) #thetruthabout

    • Claire
      10th December 2014 at 10:19 am (4 years ago)

      Oh the running away!! Our eldest daughter always held our hand and didn’t need reins so we were a bit shocked when Poppy started walking and just took off – she looks completely out of control when we are out! I do wonder if she’ll still be on reins when she’s 12!!
      Enjoy Christmas and spending time with your family!

  3. Samanthacatto@hotmail.com'
    9th December 2014 at 10:19 pm (4 years ago)

    Ah! Funnily enough I’ve written a very similar post about our weekend with two year old & five year old (minus Santa – that was the week before!) putting up our tree and learning that being together and not trying too hard definitely pays off! Thanks for linking this post to The Truth about… – perfect (in a non-Instagram kind of way!) xx #thetruthabout

    • Claire
      10th December 2014 at 1:01 pm (4 years ago)

      Great minds think alike!!
      I’ve become aware that I’ve been planning Christmas like one big checklist of festivity – planning to scale back a bit now and keep our days a bit simpler!
      Thanks for hosting!

  4. bloggermummylauren@gmail.com'
    10th December 2014 at 2:55 pm (4 years ago)

    Love the honest account of your Christmas weekend. You have captured a day out with a toddler so well, my daughter is 4 and still likes to run off grinning like a mad woman at every opportunity, shopping is a nightmare!
    It’s nice to read real experiences, its all too easy to write about something and miss out some of the not so good parts but life is not perfect, and family days out are not usually perfect either!

    Looks like you had a lovely weekend, and the Santa experience looks fab xx

    • Claire
      10th December 2014 at 7:31 pm (4 years ago)

      Thank you! My husband read the post and was worried that everyone would think we had a little delinquent on our hands (we do but that’s not the point!) I keep telling him that everyone has the same troubles, we just do’t talk about it enough! Family days out can go from laughter to tears, and hopefully back again, in 5 minutes!
      Thanks for commenting!

  5. LucyBlossom@live.co.uk'
    Lucy Blossom
    10th December 2014 at 6:18 pm (4 years ago)

    It’s quite reassuring to know that not everyone has picture perfect Christmas activities – sometimes they can be so stressful.

    • Claire
      10th December 2014 at 7:35 pm (4 years ago)

      I sometimes think these activities are full of stressed out parents, smiling, but inside we’re on the verge of losing it!! These things can be so much fun but it’s not all easy – over excited children rarely make for an easy day!
      Thanks for reading Xx

  6. mummy@becomingastayathomemum.com'
    Caroline (Becoming a SAHM)
    11th December 2014 at 4:54 am (4 years ago)

    Fab post and it is good to be honest sometimes as I think a stress free outing with little kids is rare, but even with the stress it sounds like a lovely festive weekend!! :) #mmwbh

    • Claire
      12th December 2014 at 5:00 pm (4 years ago)

      We did have a lovely weekend! It’s so easy to look at other people’s perfect updates/pictures and think you’re the only one who is feeling the strain!!
      Thanks for reading!

  7. hello@shannonagains.com'
    11th December 2014 at 9:59 pm (4 years ago)

    What a wonderful post. The meeting with Santa sounds lovely, but also like it caused a lot of stress (even the fact that you had to book in OCTOBER – that’s crazy… and very well prepared on your part!) The simple things are almost always what make life feel good – and your Christmas-tree decorating sounds absolutely wonderful. :-)

    • Claire
      12th December 2014 at 5:03 pm (4 years ago)

      Thank you!
      I must admit it was my third year trying to book the tickets – I got tipped off in the playground this year and just managed to get some of the last ones!! I was like a woman possessed! Talk about starting the Christmas stress early!
      You are so right, it is about the simple things – I’m going to try and remember that going into this weekend!

  8. jenny@letstalkmommy.com'
    13th December 2014 at 10:50 pm (4 years ago)

    It’s so true its easy to share the fluffy happy moments and instagram our life away but we all have the reality the spilled sugar, the poo right as you are walking out the door, the traffic jams and the tantrum in public things that come all the time that we gloss over. but it’s great to share real experiences too and we all can relate them and know we are all in this together. Thanks for linking up to Share With Me Happy Holidays! #sharewithme

    • Claire
      15th December 2014 at 12:33 pm (4 years ago)

      I think the reality makes those ‘perfect’ moments all the more perfect!! I like the idea that we can all be in it together – it makes the public tantrums so much less daunting!
      Thanks for reading. Xx


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