Words by: Ellie Gibson and Helen Thorn
Hooray, it’s nearly Christmas! Time to dig out those elasticated trousers and dive into excess. Put your salad in the bin and cover your greens with butter. Rejoice in the mountains of mince pies, the pints of Baileys and the sides of gammon bigger than your head. Silence that tummy rumble with an entire packet of After Eights and wobble all the way to the 25th!
And don’t feel guilty about it – you need to keep your energy up. For parents, December is a multi-event assault course. There’s the sprint from work to the nativity play, then the childcare relay race so Daddy can make the office party, followed by hurdling the Post Office queue, climbing the wall of shoppers in Sainsbury’s and the marathon run home to catch that three-minute window for the John Lewis delivery. When it comes to exercise, there’s nothing more motivating than thinking about what will happen if you fail to take possession of that Lego Millennium Falcon.
This time of year can be stressful. But if you’re willing to embrace your inner scumminess, it IS possible to survive the festive season. Here’s our guide to getting through it without going Christmas crackers.
The savvy parent will start their Christmas preparations in October. In other words, don’t bother taking down those Halloween decorations. Just stick a cotton wool beard on that pumpkin, paint the witch’s hat red, and hey presto! Decorations, DONE.
Play Your Cards Right
Why drive yourself mad trying to remember how to spell Great-Aunt Deirdre’s name at 2am the night before the Royal Mail deadline? Tell everyone you’re being eco-friendly this year and give the cards a miss. Just don’t forget to drink too much sherry on Christmas Eve, then send an overly sentimental text to everyone in your contacts list, including your old driving instructor.
The office Christmas party is a chance for you to prove that although you’re a parent, you can still let your hair down. Make an effort with your outfit – for example, try wearing a dress that doesn’t have Weetabix and snot stuck to it. This is also a great time to get to know your workmates better. Why not tell your boss what you really think of him, or confide in the 22-year-old intern that you haven’t had sex for six months?
Give the Grotto a Miss
Nothing says Merry Christmas like queuing to see Santa in a shopping centre for two hours, only for your little one to announce he needs a poo just as you reach the front of the line. Why not make your own grotto at home? Bung a few fairylights in the shed, stick some tinsel on the roof and get your mum’s mate, Morris, from the allotment to put a red jumper on and fluff up his beard. It may be less convincing, but it’s a lot less hassle.
Make Present-Buying Painless
Don’t insist your kids spend hours scrawling out a barely legible letter to Santa – save both their time and yours by giving them an Argos catalogue and some Post-It notes. And unless you want to end up with another pile of hand cream and scarves, tell them what you’d really like for Christmas – such as a lie-in, an uninterrupted bath, or for the five-year-old to put his shoes on in under 45 minutes.
Keep It In The Family
Christmas is a great time for all the family to get together, catch up, fight over the last roast potato and have such a huge row over the rules of Monopoly that the neighbours call the police. Keep arguments to a minimum by insisting on a few house rules – for example, no one’s allowed to mention the word “Brexit”.
Expect Some Disappointments
You may have spent weeks choosing your kids’ presents and hours wrapping them, but expect the actual opening to be over in minutes. Try to hold on to some festive spirit as you watch them tear into the huge pile, then look up at you with an “Is there any more?” expression. For really little ones, cut out the middle man and just give them a pile of cardboard boxes. It’s what they really want anyway.
There are so many things that can go wrong when it comes to Christmas lunch – the fan on your oven goes three hours into cooking the turkey, the gravy somehow tastes like washing-up water, your brother failed to tell you his new girlfriend is a pescetarian… In case of emergencies, keep some pizzas in the freezer and a large bottle of gin under the sink.
Embrace the Post-Lunch Lull
Once lunch is, mercifully, over, it’s time to put your feet up, stick the Queen’s speech on for Granny, and pack the kids off to play their new video game. Yes, we should be spending Christmas afternoon enjoying a brisk walk in the open air, but the reality is most of us will have eaten so much we can barely make it to the front door. And don’t bother with tedious old parlour games – although it’s always fun to let the children put make-up on anyone who has fallen asleep on the couch.
Let’s be honest, the most wonderful time of the year is really Boxing Day. The relatives have (hopefully) left, the sugar high has subsided, and the fridge is full of meat and cheese. Somehow it feels like there’s nothing wrong with having mince pies for breakfast, or cuddling up on the sofa to watch eight hours of telly in a row. OK, so the house is a bit of a tip, but who cares? Merry Christmas – or should that be Christmess? – to all the scummy parents of the world.
TOP TIPS AT A GLANCE
Force them to open their cards first and take turns. Your parents made you, so now it’s payback time.
Maintain a sense of humour at all times, such as when you discover the turkey is frozen/too big for your oven.
Gaviscon. Lack of gratitude. How the f**k does anyone not burn the bacon-wrapped sausages?
Try to form a sense of national pride in your children who are terrorising each other on the Xbox.
If it all gets a bit much, pretend to play hide-and-seek and have a sneaky nap.
The Scummy Mummies host a free podcast and their book is out now. For more details and to buy tickets for their live comedy show, visit scummymummies.com. You can follow them on social media @scummymummies.