Monday, 21 December 2015

Kids Don't Stop at Christmas

The cattle are lowing, the baby awakes
But little Lord Jesus, no crying he makes...

Nappies still need changing.
I greatly doubt it. Jesus was a human baby - he'd have cried at some point. Just like ordinary babies. Because babies don't know that one day is different to any other day. They continue living to their own rhythm. They still need feeding and winding and changing, with very little regard for our desire to cook an over the top lunch, or watch the Queen's speech, or have a lovely afternoon nap.

A young baby, however - unlike a boisterous toddler - can be happily accommodated at some Christmas activities. We took B to a candlelit carol service at 4 months old. She gurgled quietly, fed noisily, and slept happily through the rest. Unlike the lady behind us who loudly rustled her sweet wrappers during every quiet bit.
Yep, I held her for the whole meal.
Our first Christmas with B, she sat on my knee for the whole of Christmas Dinner. I had to get the Hubby to cut up my food. And the only way we got our presents wrapped that year, and the one after, was by taking everything over to my in-laws' so they could watch her while we wrapped. M was born in November, and the year she was born was my most organised Christmas ever! We bought and wrapped everything before she was born. I planned Advent activities for B with folders containing each day's supplies, so that visitors could do something with her rather than just cooing over the baby. It was truly amazing. And I'm pretty sure it will never happen again!
Both girls were over a year old when they had their first Christmas Dinners, and we had no worries about providing separate foods, or wondering if they would try anything. We did Baby Led Weaning with them, so by the time they got to Christmas Dinner, they had both had a good number of roasts, and already had their favourite components. Roast potatoes were a big hit with both of them, and B was partial to stuffing. But even knowing that the meal will be enjoyed by children doesn't mean that you'll be able to relax. Between mouthfuls we find ourselves catching falling morsels, removing cutlery from drinks, providing second helpings, and blowing on hot food.
And this one fed for the whole meal.
Having Christmas at either my parents' or the Hubby's has been a godsend since having children. I haven't had to juggle cooking the big Christmas Lunch with feeding a baby; when they were babies I was able to sit on the settee breastfeeding, and being brought drinks and snacks. I love cooking Christmas Dinner, but being waited on hand and foot isn't too bad an alternative. And as they've got older, it's been helpful to have a few more adults to watch out for the tell tale jigging of a child who is ignoring their need to go for a wee, or to change a nappy or two. Still, I am looking forward to the day when we will have our own little family Christmas in our own home, and I can be in charge, even if it means we have to do a bit more childcare ourselves.
That lull after lunch, when you used to just sink into the sofa, with some Christmas telly on, and doze happily, has become a time of high energy. No quiet naps or reading the new book you opened in the morning; with children, you probably have to play a game, or learn how to use a new toy, or do nappy changes and toilet trips, or explain another cracker joke.

And when it comes to your Boxing Day walk, you can't just throw on a coat and hat and wander in the fresh air for a few hours. Serious planning is required. How far shall we walk? Where shall we go? Will we get back in time for lunch? Has everyone had a wee? Where is your other welly? No, you can't bring all your presents. Please don't sit on the pavement. The quicker you walk, the sooner we'll be home. And so on, and so forth.

Children don't stop at Christmas - a parent's work is never done - nothing is easy. But it's not forever, and if we play our cards right, they might just grow into teenagers who want to do the washing up after lunch!

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