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Mother Francien: ‘In my opinion, the month of December is one big cocktail of stress factors’

Wednesday, August 26, 2020: I was still in the middle of my summer vacation, when I bumped into the PEPERNOTEN in the store. In all variants, colors and flavors. Of course I passed by, strong as I am. Although I was confused about it for at least two days. Fortunately, the summer vibes soon returned and I managed to quell the December stress.

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Holiday month and horror month

Because oh, December. A month that we all look forward to with mixed feelings. Holiday month and horror month. Expectations for the last weeks of the year are always very high. As well as the stress. All family visits, parties, drinks, presents and wonderful evenings are rushed through in no time at the last minute of the year (although we don’t know what it will look like this year). The Great Condition: It must be fun.

Now you have those mothers who can do that too. Who, if possible, manage to turn it into a cozy time 52 weeks a year. These mothers decorate their house according to the seasons, paint their wall gingerbread brown for Sinterklaas, and then on December 6 they throw on a sparkling pine color again. The children have a cool little outfit and matching Christmas clothes. As well as the parents. Such a mother is miles away from my own reality. I am happy when I have not forgotten on which day each child is expected to contribute to the festivities at school.

A great cocktail of stress

In my opinion, the month of December is a big cocktail of stress factors. For both parents and children. Now my girls are not necessarily stressed about whether they can find a nice Christmas dress for this year or which super healthy and also culinary dish will be on the table. They just wear what is there (as long as it contains glitter) and eat what they are served (provided it does not look too healthy). Their stress is mainly in the tension, the gifts and the sweets. And as a parent you should facilitate that. So in addition to your own stress (from that dress and that Christmas dinner), you also have to deal with substitute stress for your child.

One of the biggest factors that makes this period so stressful is time. December is in a pressure cooker: there are three weeks between Sinterklaas and Boxing Day. THREE! WEEKS! That was still feasible when we only celebrated Sinterklaas once, at most twice, and only sat in church at Christmas. But these are different times.

Pressure cooker

Very recognizable for Eline (37), mother of Jeane (8): “Sint is everywhere. He visits school, hockey, after school care, swimming lessons, dancing lessons. Then we celebrate with the family and the in-laws and we also enjoy having a nice evening with the family around the fireplace. There is also a lot of administration involved, because for every evening we have different children and other budgets to take into account. I have heard that mothers keep Excel files for presents, maybe I should get started on that too. ”

So for all those Sinterklaas parties alone, three weeks is hardly enough. And then Christmas also comes at a bad pace. Of course we do not know what it will look like this year, perhaps there will be fewer Sinterklaas celebrations, Christmas drinks and dinners due to all the measures, but usually a December pressure cooker like that cannot remain fun, can it?

Eline: “The ‘compulsory’ sitting together and eating a lot is not my favorite and I often dread it a bit. But once we are there, it is often so cozy with both families that I really wouldn’t want it any other way. ” December’s eternal contradiction: we don’t want it, but we don’t want to miss it either.

Peppernut Diet

Yes, December is also the eating month. From August 26, the first people will apparently start on their pepper nut diet. I can often still control myself until mid-November (okay, October), but then I really have a lot of fun. The first December bunker is already on before the month has arrived. How do you manage that diet a bit? Or is that just impossible?

Eline is now counting on an annual vomiting party for her daughter: “When Jeane sees tasty things, she wants to taste everything. This is also the case at the school Christmas dinner. She doesn’t feel very well at the time of eating when it’s too much. That feeling only comes in the evening, around eleven o’clock. Then she wakes up and everything comes out. That relieves enormously and then she sleeps like a baby. I try to warn her every year, but she’s just a gourmand. ”

Walhalla for the dentist

No matter how hard we try, keeping sweets under control during this Valhalla month for the dentist is difficult for many parents. I also think that is a quest. At home it is still feasible, because you can’t eat what we don’t have at home (my roommates don’t know about my secret stash of chocolate kernels). But at all parties, parties, celebrations and I know a lot more, the sugars are flying around your ears.

When you as a parent set a limit here, or even worse: offer a healthy alternative, all things break out. Your heart slices are just as busy until they can take unlimited gingerbread cookies, marzipan and pastry bar. Marieke (34) is the mother of Nina (12) and Sara (10). Her strategy: “I nod, smile and sometimes brake very lightly, but don’t turn anything into a fight. With Sinterklaas and Christmas I try to keep it liveable by letting go of my usual military candy rules, sleeping times and gift limits. The hard and healthy life will start again in January. ”

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Not that Marieke thinks Sinterklaas is such a fun party now. “In the past, when we were all childless, it was fun and cozy. But now we all have children ranging from zero (screams all evening) to six (wants to open all the presents now and would rather have what someone else has) and twelve (arguing about who’s next to get a present) unpack). Horrible.”

Daniëlle (41), mother of Lenn (10) and Noah (8) thinks this is just delicious. “I don’t have any brothers and sisters myself. I did receive a present and a cup of hot chocolate with Sinterklaas, but that was it. My friend comes from a large family, where it is a tradition to celebrate the party lavishly. I am completely absorbed in that. I have been looking for good gifts all year round. For example, I never have gift stress or very high costs all at once and have fun for a year. ”

Without packages

You usually don’t have time to catch your breath before Christmas after Sinterklaas, because packages under the tree are part of the deal nowadays. But not for Marion (37), mother of four children aged 13, 11, 9 and 7. “I like to celebrate Christmas Eve, but at Christmas we remember the birth of Jesus. We spend that time with family and put a festive meal on the table, but the emphasis should not be on gifts and good food. The most important thing for us is that we go to church and realize what Christmas is really about for us. ”

Marieke does not participate in the commercial content of Christmas, but that has another, envious reason. “My oh-so-brilliant mother-in-law has her birthday just before Christmas and every year she takes her children with their families on holiday to the snow. Not being at home has countless advantages: I don’t cook, don’t share Christmas days, don’t have a tree and don’t send cards. Plus, more often than not, I have a white Christmas. And when I get home, I don’t have to clean up balls, spikes and needles. Ski equipment, but I take that for granted. The great thing is that everyone is used to it, so I don’t even get questions about it anymore. ”

To spread

Okay, I have no complaints myself about Christmas stress. Of course I have to perform with the Christmas dinner at school, because you can no longer come out with a bucket of snack tomatoes. But for the time being, at least up to grade 3, I can be a bit of a creative person quite easily. There may be some Christmas get-togethers that come with dress stress, but stuffed turkeys and spectacular desserts I don’t need, lucky me, not to conjure up on the table.

In my family, Christmas has been a non-committal event for years, my in-laws came up with the bright idea to move our gathering to the end of January, when the pater familias is celebrating his birthday. I wouldn’t want it any other way. I advise everyone to spread the festivities a bit. December is impossible, January and February, on the other hand, are often boring and slow. If we spice up those months with a package evening or a cozy dinner, I am sure that the Blue Monday phenomenon is also a thing of the past. The only risk is that those damn ginger nuts really end up in the store all year round. And those Christmas kilos also have an increasingly less temporary character.

This article is in Kek Mama 15-2020.

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