Don't Let Holiday Mom Guilt Put You in Debt

Believe me, I know the feeling.  You buy and charge and buy for months leading up to Christmas, then late on Christmas Eve, asyou’re obsessively organizing every last present under the tree, you look at your masterpiece and discover a  gap in the wall of presents!

Oh no!  There are not enough presents!  How will your children survive? How could you be such a terrible parent? Christmas is ruined!!!

Now is the time to take a deep breath, relax, and re-evaluate what's going to happen next.  In a few hours, a cacophony of little feet and happy faces will come barreling into the living room. You need to be happy and excited, not guilt ridden.

Here are 5 little reminders to get you into the right mindset for Christmas morning and rid yourself of holiday mom guilt:

  • We buy gifts to make us feel better about what quality parents we are. If we go into credit card debt over Christmas gifts, we must be great parents, right?  Not even a little bit.  When the credit card bills come in January, we’re going to look at the broken toys and become irate that our kids can’t take care of their stuff. Why put ourselves and our kids through that?
  • Kids can’t open all the presents most parents buy. I remember my husband being super panicked at T’s second Christmas that there weren’t enough gifts.  However, T would stop opening gifts after he opened the first one and would begin playing with it.  It dawned on me he would have been just as happy with two gifts, not twenty.
  • The life expectancy of most Christmas gifts is about 3 days. This is my own calculation based on any toy in a two-year olds’ hands, due to either damage or lack of interest.  There are exceptions like bikes and tricycles (which are left out in the rain and snow) but on most every other toy, the clock is ticking the moment it is unwrapped.
  • Mortgages, car payments, and utility bills still need to be paid. You can’t send the bank a box of unused video games and hope for the best.  Think of that gap in presents underneath the tree as a testament to your financial planning.
  • Young children especially are more excited about opening presents than what is inside the boxes. Seriously, what’s more fun – tearing open wrapping paper and ribbons and yanking out stuffing paper, or playing with some dumb toy that has about an hour’s happiness quotient?  The box will win every time.  Last Christmas my son was being compelled to open presents, but all he wanted was the TV remote.  My mom wrapped the TV remote and he couldn't be happier to unwrap and then play with that leaving all his new toys aside. With what I know now, I would give every child, four and under, the most elaborately wrapped present, with bows and stuffing that would take them an hour to open and find a $2 toy inside.  They would be just as happy.

When you get down to it, the message is simple:  there is nothing that you can buy your child that will keep them forever happy, no matter what you spend at Christmas time.  You can, however, create a home where love and joy and wonder sparkle over the holidays.  All the toys in the world can’t buy that. Don't let yourself fall into the “If I can buy one or two more presents, then I’ll be a good parent” trap.          

Let go of your guilt.  Hug your child.  Enjoy the holidays.  Merry Christmas!

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