Managing Great Expectations This Christmas

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With Christmas approaching I know a lot of parents are looking forward to watching their little one’s faces lighting up on Christmas Day.

Looking forward to seeing real pleasure, joy, laughter and the magic that Santa brings.

But I also feel like we need to make sure our expectations are not too high. 

We have threatened them with Santa all month; asked them to wish for things they want; got them to really focus on toys, presents and gifts for themselves, whipped them up into a frenzy…is it any wonder on Christmas Day that they may be expecting more?

There are people who rip the presents open eagerly, sometimes before Christmas and then there are others, like me, the pleasure-delayers who enjoy the built up element of surprise and wait and wait until finally the last present is opened…and then get that sinking feeling.

It’s really all over.

Another year to wait. A month (or two)  of prep and cash (!) gone in a day.

And the kids… they are still learning to manage expectations and haven’t quite got their poker faces on.

So there may be tears. 

There may be angry faces. 

There may be crossed arms and huffs and puffs. 

It’s normal.

If you are like me and freak out that you have given birth little spoilt brats then please understand it took me awhile to understand this too. It is our fault.

All that asking and santa talk and present buying – we have taught them that this is normal but have not properly managed their expectations.

We need to start talking to them about the excitement of the whole family being together, get them whipped up into a frenzy about the food, about the gifts to be given and let them focus on the gifts they have opened before making them open another.

We rush them. We hurry them up. We STRESS them out. Somehow we are teaching them that the joy is opening gifts and not the gifts themselves.

So this year to minimise my stress and theirs I vow to:

Buy less but give more. More understanding, more cuddles, more love. 

Buy more experiences, less things. I would much rather a holiday or a night out than things I don’t need so hopefully I can start teaching my kids the thrill of looking forward to these type of things and the joy that anticipation can bring, plus the event itself. 

Give generously – we may adopt an animal from the Zoo as a gift for example – a way of pleasing the child and giving to a good cause. We may also donate a load of old toys to those who need it more than we do. 

Slow down. Christmas is not a race and my little munchkins will be allowed to go at their own pace.

Put away in storage a load of their current toys so that they can enjoy their new ones without bits getting lost before they have even really begun to use them.  

So this Christmas let them play to their little hearts are content ….tell the relatives you’ll be late…because you are watching the magic of Christmas unfold. 


  1. Oh yes. Christmas is about stress, but it need not be that way. Everyone: lower your expectations! Take a deep breath! Relax! Put your feet up! Enjoy the time, really do, just being with your loved ones. Impressing them in any way is NOT the point here. Great post. 🙂

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