parent opinion

‘The truth is, Christmas is a brutally laborious time for women. So I'm done.'

It’s December 23rd and I’m done. The kids can stuff their own freaking stockings, the elf can bugger off early to the top of the cupboard in the laundry. And I never thought I’d say this but Mariah… shush. Just. Shush.

The truth of the matter is that Christmas is just a brutally laborious time for women. I’m perplexed as to how we have come so incredibly far in terms of gender equality, and yet Christmas pops up at the end of every year and shakes her disappointed head at the ‘feminists’ who adorably thought they were making actual progress. 

But that’s ok… like good ol’ Glennon Doyle says, ‘we can do hard things!’ Right? 

Watch: The things Mums never say at Christmas. Post continues below.


Video via Mamamia

Wrong. I mean… not totally wrong, but kind of wrong. I can do hard things. But I don’t particularly want to right now. I’m quite tired of the hard things. After doing 11 months of hard things I’d really like to do some ‘numbing’ and ‘escape-y’ things like crawling into a cupboard with some Prosecco and Lindt balls that were meant to be for my neighbour. 

My message groups between my sisters and friends all echo the same sentiments… 

…can this just be over now? 

…how is it not Boxing Day already? 

…can one of you ladies wake me up when this sh*t is done? 

Which is really incredibly sad because I/we don’t want to feel like this. We want to feel sparkly with joy and magic and warmed by connection and love. We want to be together and make memories and feel stuffed with good food and gratitude. We don’t want to wish this time away… but the reality is, we are. 

Unless you’ve been living under a rock (please let me join you for a few days - did I mention I have Lindt balls) you would be familiar with the term ‘the mental load’ thanks to the French Comic, Emma and a subsequent viral article by Gemma Hartley published by Harper’s Bazaar in 2017. 

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It can be defined as ‘cognitive labour’ which is ‘invisible, non-tangible tasks involved in running a household.’ 

I’m not going to list the multitude of invisible tasks done by women across the country in the lead up to Christmas. 

If you’ve read thus far, I dare say you have a fair idea and listing them now would give you the same feeling you get when you think about the ‘bad boys’ you tried to ‘save’ in your 20s… nauseous and kind of used. 

The fact is that Christmas’ mental load packs a freaking punch. It’s the heaviest of all mental loads. 

To make matters worse, this hefty beast is placed on our shoulders at the end of the year when we have simply had enough.

We’re on kilometre 39 of our 2021 marathon and we have not the strength for Christmas craft and street parties and finding bloody ‘breakfast marmalade’ in Woollies for the goddamn glazed ham.  

Sincere apologies Breakfast Marmalade, I know it was your one time of year to shine. Image: Supplied. 

Simple tasks suddenly feel insurmountable and we can find ourselves crashing down a spiral of guilt and shame because we’re supposed to be having FUN! 

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Aren’t these times, these moments, the ones that will be the bright and shimmering threads in the tapestry of our lives? Didn’t we dream of sharing these holidays with our children when we imagined ourselves as mothers. 

But maybe that’s exactly the problem, the expectation. We’re fed this idea that Christmas is supposed to look a very specific way. 

The traditions, food, presents, parties… the bloody Tablescape (if you haven’t heard of it, don’t YouTube it -  ain’t nobody got time for the scaping of the table.) 

The thing is, as women we can feel like the success of our Christmas is reliant on the joy experienced by the ones we love. And we feel like we are personally responsible for giving this joy through facilitating the delivery of ‘the perfect Christmas.’ 

But it’s a lie. It doesn’t actually exist. No matter how stunning your Tablescape is. 

And in the process of trying to conjure all the joy, the exact opposite happens. 

Listen to Mamamia's podcast for parents, This Glorious Mess. Post continues below. 


I realised this last night as I was unloading the Christmas groceries (breakfast marmalade is in aisle 3 by the way). 

I was sweaty and stressy and started talking about myself in third person (which is a classic sign of ‘Mumma’s on a one way ticket over the edge.’)

It went something like, ‘you know a lot of work goes into Christmas blah blah Mummy is frustrated because Grandma wants to know what to buy you two days before Christmas blah blah Santa’s not real but the patriarchy is alive and well my little loves blah blah.’

My babes stood there watching with confused expressions and sad faces. My beautiful husband shuffled them away before I did any more damage to their childhoods. 

It was then that I realised… the pressure of carrying this mental and physical load isn’t creating joy - it’s taking it away. 

My kids are 5 and 7 and this is peak childhood Christmas excitement time. This is the one short dance with magic they will get to experience in their entire lives, and I don’t want to miss it. 

So instead of asking myself what I want Christmas to look like, I’m focusing on what I want it to feel like, which I realised is pretty simple actually. 

Actual footage of me organising Christmas lunch… and dinner. Photo courtesy of my 7-year-old who is massively in favour of the menu change. Image: Supplied. 

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I want to feel connection, gratitude and love. I want the people who hold my heart throughout the year to feel seen and appreciated on Christmas Day, and I want to feel seen and appreciated too. Anything that doesn’t serve this purpose can bugger off.  

So I’ve decided… I’m delegating some of the things on my ‘to do’ notes. 

Those that can’t be delegated with be deleted. 

The ham will remain unglazed. 

The floor will remain sticky. 

The highly skilled husband will do a magnificent job of wrapping the presents, I’m sure. 

I’m going to spend the next couple of days recharging so I feel whole again. 

I feel like there will be a lot of Christmas movies and napping involved. 

I highly recommend you do the same. 

Merry Christmas.

Feature Image: Supplied.

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