How to Survive Christmas with Kids: What Every Parent REALLY Needs to Know

Twas’ the night before Christmas and all through the house nothing was stirring, not even a mouse…. 

Except in my house, where everyone was stirring each other up!

I always have great expectations of what Christmas ‘should’ look like, all sparkly, with a warm glow and soft jingly-belled music playing. But then I remember I have a child, a large family… and I don’t actually live on 34th Street.

Personally I blame too many Christmas movies and an unhealthy Pinterest addiction. So here’s a look at what Christmas really looks like in all its glitter-crusted glory.

It all starts with Christmas prep…

Let’s face it, the first of December can generally set the mood for the whole show, when the Advent calendar squabbles and present demands begin.

And the only way is up from here. Santa photos with nobody smiling, or one kid grinning maniacally whilst the other bawls his eyes out. The key is not to fuss if your Santa photos are less than perfect. Sure, it might be nicer if the kids aren’t screaming in terror. But just think about the hilarious fodder you’re collecting for their 21st birthday photo montage.

Crying santa photos

Then there’s the present wrapping. Am I the only one that imagines spending the evening sipping wine and beautifully wrapping each gift with tasteful bows and tags?

Instead you end up locking yourself in a bedroom on Christmas Eve, while the kids bash on the bedroom door wanting to know what you’re doing in there. Followed by the inevitable mad dash to the shops at 4pm because you’ve totally forgotten to buy a present for at least one person.

The key here is to forget about the frippery and remember the golden rule – the kids don’t care about the wrapping and it all ends up in the recycling bin away

Time to decorate the tree…

My expectations? A beautiful fir tree, tastefully decorated in a theme, with twinkly lights and hints of silver or gold. Of course we would all gather around and decorate it as a family while Christmas music plays.

I had the great idea of putting the tree up with my Mum and my toddler. I found a nice carols playlist on Spotify, poured us a glass of bubbles each (for Mum and me, not the toddler). Then I set to work unpacking the decorations, waiting for that sparkly Christmas glow to descend on my home.

Decorating the Christmas tree expectation vs reailty
Source: Flickr

It did not. The lights didn’t work, no matter how much my other half swore at them and mum spent the whole time chasing the toddler. And he spent his whole time taking all the decorations off the tree and tangling himself in tinsel. Alas, toddlers and perfect Christmas trees really don’t mix, no matter how hard you try. Unless you have a lot of plastic wrap in the kitchen, of course…

Which brings me back to Christmas Eve….

Do you have a lovely tradition of seeing the lights, singing carols or even going to a nativity play? Nothing says Christmas like some forced family time! Guaranteed someone – most likely your tweenager – will whinge, ‘Do we have to?’ because they just want to sit on the sofa watching YouTube.

And then there’s the Christmas Eve box. Are you imagining reading Christmas stories together, wearing matching pyjamas, cuddled up on the sofa (Mummy with a wine)? Think again because there will be arguments about which book to read and of course the youngest wants to wear his raggedy Batman pyjamas to bed instead. Let him, there’s always next year!

But who cares, when Christmas Day is what it’s really all about?

It’s Christmas morning. Oops, no, it’s 4am! You send the kids back to bed because you only went to sleep yourself two hours ago (that final present wrapping). Word them up that they can open their Christmas stockings when they wake, but only if they stay in their rooms – that’ll buy you some extra shut-eye.

Actual Christmas morning arrives and finally, joy! You watch their faces light up, because Santa has been (even though the eldest confides in you she knows you help Santa out). It is crazy and there is mess everywhere, but everyone is happy.

christmas decorations

For a minute at least. And then there’s all the family fun of searching the house for batteries, arguing over who got more toys, and shouting, ‘Don’t eat all that chocolate, you’ll ruin your dinner”. A dinner, which happens to be ducks that your mother-in-law thought were a good idea, but has left you to cook. Let the kids eat their chocolate – it’s Christmas, after all – while you Google “easy duck recipes”.

And remember, it’s perfectly acceptable to drink all day. Plus, you can definitely rely on the post-dinner food coma to calm everything down. Just whatever you do, don’t bring out the board games…

Need some more help to survive Christmas? Then come find out how to create a mouth-watering Christmas feast on a budget plus take a look at these brilliant Kmart Christmas hacks.

Avatar of Sarah Long

Originally from the UK, but now very much at home on the sunny NSW Central Coast, Sarah is mum to 18-month-old Freddy. When she's not writing, you'll find her at the beach, chasing Freddy at high speed, or drinking tea and eating cake whilst thinking about going to the gym.


  1. Avatar of Panasonic Camera
    Panasonic CameraReply

    I love that you can upload the photos directly from the camera. This is going to save a lot of time when I want to share photos of my girls.

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