Diary of a Dad: Week 19 - Christmas Pressure

by Adam Riches

Christmas with children is a magical time...mostly; the build-up, the excitement and the fun. I feel like I need Christmas this year more than I ever have before. What with everything that 2020 has thrown at us, I think we are due a break!

The thing is, Christmas can also be a really tough time and although there is the overwhelming feeling in my mind that I need a break from work, the reality is that Christmas is also a tough time for parents.

I suppose that in recent years, things have been amplified a bit because of social media, but there has always been that element of competition when it comes to Christmas. We are really trying to wind back (as we have been for a couple of years) on our social media posting in December, because it really puts others under pressure...and totally unnecessarily too. I’m not being a Scrooge, far from it actually, it’s just that realising that Christmas isn’t as joy-filled for others as it may be for you is so important.

As wonderful as it is to celebrate Christmas, have a think about these things...

Presents under the tree

Seeing peoples’ trees with hundreds of presents under fills me with dread. I always get that sinking feeling that maybe we should do more or buy more. It’s totally psychological and completely irrelevant really, but it is that underlying worry that all parents have thinking, “Have I done enough?!” This year has been tough financially for a lot of people and the additional worry of buying presents to “keep up” is something we should be aware of. Christmas time does funny things to your rational buying mind, especially if all you see on social media is trees surrounded by presents.

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Father Christmas

Seeing the boys get excited about Father Christmas coming is brilliant….it’s also epic bribing material, let’s not kid ourselves! We have gone really small this year for Father Christmas because we don’t want it to get blown out of proportion. A little stocking with a few bits in. I’ve spoken to other parents and their worry, like mine, is they simply can’t keep up and they don’t want their child feeling less loved. “What did Father Christmas bring you?” is a totally normal question for an adult to ask a child during the festive period, for some, it’ll be an iPad, for others it might be a magazine. It’s about the magic, isn’t it? That’s why we are trying to keep it small.

Family and friends

Again, this year will be strange for some people. With the current restrictions in place, it isn’t going to be possible for everyone to see everyone they want to. On a more sombre note, for some, this will be the first Christmas without loved ones due to Covid. There’s a certain trigger for a lot of people on social media when they see others with groups of people together. I’m not saying don’t get together because other people can’t, I think I’m just going to be really careful what I’m posting.

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Food

So many people this year have relied on food banks and support provided by local councils when it comes to food. It’s easy to forget that Christmas is an expensive time for food, especially those families who rely on support from schools during term time. This can mean that Christmas dinner can look very different in different homes. I know the whole impressive turkey on a table with all the additional bits thing is a staple story on Instagram...but be tentative.

Traditions (more presents)

When I was a kid, we used to beg our mum to open a present on Christmas Eve. She’d always so no but we used to pester her regardless. Over the years, there have been so many new traditions that have been shared on social media. I’ve said that wrong, the traditions aren’t new, but people have been publishing them more. It’s the whole more, more, more thing again and quickly, you can feel really pressured as a parent to also do these things. Christmas Eve boxes, Boxing Day presents, Elves, fancy advent calendars, does the list ever end? Yes, it’s nice to have some traditions, but do they always have to be about buying things?

Like I say, I love Christmas, but I’m trying to be more aware this year of what I keep private and what I make more public.


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Written by

Adam Riches

Blogger, Teacher and Father of One
Being a parent isn’t something you can ever truly prepare for (no matter how many things you read about!) I don’t think I’ll ever really get it right, but that’s what being a parent is all about for me - effectively winging it and being totally ok with just doing your best at being a dad. I’m stumbling through life as a dad of one and between extracting coco pops from my son’s nose and trying to persuade him that dinosaurs aren’t going to get him at night, I write a bit and I teach a lot.

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