My children are usually quite difficult on Christmas Day. And I wholeheartedly get it. The anticipation and excitement in the lead up is huge; they've slept lightly and risen early. They seem to experience the full range of emotions: elation, happiness, delight, disappointment, anger and sadness.
Early on in this parenting gig, Daniel and I decided that we would only have one celebration on Christmas day. Going from one set of Grandparents to another was just too much with a baby in tow - it made it stressful and exhausting, despite the fact that it was only a ten minute drive between houses. It's one of the best decisions we've made - both for the children and us (and our Christmas sanity). But still, emotions are high and patience is low.
In retrospect, my expectations of the children have been unrealistic around Christmas time, especially when it comes to gifts. You see, I want to teach them gratitude but I also want them to be honest. There's a part of me that expects them to absolutely love their gifts and be so very grateful for them, regardless of the fact that they get more presents on that one day than they do for the entire year. We keep it simple but still; they are surrounded by new toys and books - they don't know where to turn.
This year, if need be, we'll stop whatever we're doing to make sure our day is enjoyable. Presents have been kept to a minimum to ensure the overwhelm isn't too great and if I sense the onset of a tantrum I'll know it's time to step away from the crowd and seek a bit of quiet and one-on-one time (cue: reading books in bed with full bellies).
For us, the days after Christmas are always our favourites. We spend easy mornings at the beach, snack on left-overs and schedule a siesta every afternoon. There are no plans and no expectations; always a relief after the height of the busy season.
So: recognise that it's an overwhelming time for your children. If you make it easier for them you make it easier for yourself, too.
ps. a few readers have asked what presents the children are getting. Are you interested in a post about lovely, simple gifts I've found along the way?