FAQ: Potential Boxing Day Problem #3 – Boxing Days if you’re a parent

Reader Jane dropped me a line:

“I think I’ve figured out something that may help in terms of ‘how Mums can do a boxing day’. You may need to relax the ‘rules’. The thing is, there is always so much to do around the house and for the kids/husband/etc.

“If I had planned a bit more beforehand (e.g. booked a massage, picked a film to go and see, arranged a friend to meet for lunch, booked a table to eat alone, etc) then I might have had more of a successful BD. However, because (the rules state) you’re not ‘allowed’ to think about what you’re doing in advance, I ended up doing a whole load of chores and things that needed doing around the house. Which was fine, but not really the rest a 36 week pregnant woman with a one year old needed!

“I suggest that childcare is arranged, even if it’s just for half a day with Grandparents, and then you allow Mums to book one thing to do (or plan one thing to do) outside of the house. This would remove the temptation to go ahead and get on with chores, etc.

“A Mum’s (and I’m sure a Dad’s!) lot is a busy one and there is, like I say, always so much to do that it’s hard to put oneself first, especially if you have that rare commodity of free time. The first thing that comes to mind is something along the lines of ‘thank goodness! Now I can get that big pile of ironing done, weed the garden, cook for the freezer, etc.”

My gut reaction to Jane’s email was to point out that there’s a huge difference between pre-planning (what you’re going to do on Boxing Day) and preparing (doing whatever’s necessary so that a Boxing Day is possible). Pre-planning is bad. Preparing on the other hand, is very very good. Necessary even.

However, hot on the heels of Jane’s email, readers Kirsty and Alison contacted me with very similar thoughts! It seems it’s just too darn difficult to be spontaneous on a Boxing Day if you’re a Mum – other stuff always gets in the way. Clearly I’m out of my depth here.

So I called in the Big Guns and emailed Keris Stainton –  author, journalist, fan of this book and (most importantly) Busy Mum of two. I put the Busy Mum vs Boxing Day conundrum to her, reserved several pages in the book for her words of wisdom, and waited. If anyone would know the answer it would be Keris. Why, she’d probably end up writing a blog post or an article about it. Fabulous!

Three weeks later (I told you she was busy) I got her  response.

She was, to use her own words ‘flummoxed’ – unable to see how being a busy parent is so different from being a busy anything else. She went on to say:

If the FIRST thing you think of when you get up on Boxing Day is ‘thank goodness – Now I can get that big pile of ironing done, weed the garden, cook for the freezer, etc.’ then, well, you REALLY need a Boxing Day!

If any of this rings true for you then let me just say this; “go for it”. And if ‘going for it’ means you need to have one thing pre-arranged, or you have to have a rule that says Boxing Day takes place Off-site, or you limit Boxing Day to the hours between dropping the kids off and picking them back up again, or Boxing Day is something you do with another Busy Parent – if that ‘fixes’ Boxing Day and makes it work for you – then you have my blessing! I am not going to stand in your way. I’m just pleased that you’re finally taking time out for yourself.

If you’re a parent and have any thoughts on the challenges of Boxing Day, feel free to share them in the comments box below or on the facebook page.

7 thoughts on “FAQ: Potential Boxing Day Problem #3 – Boxing Days if you’re a parent

  1. My kids are older so it’s easier for me though being self employed I do find io tend to postpone endlessly to get client work done. However, when I do manage to actually DO a Boxing Day I tend to focus on the 8-3 time when I have the house to myself – it’s much nicer having a long bath or baking or watching rubbish tv without anyone else around.

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    1. Hi Alison – it’s really hard not to postpone Boxing Day. I do it myself. I look at my diary and often Boxing Day is the only thing I can actually move if I’m trying to find time for something. Then again, sometimes I get so desperate for a Boxing Day that even if I have someone next to me, trying to look over my shoulder at my schedule, I stick to my guns and utter the very powerful words, “I’m really sorry, it looks like I’m already busy that day.”

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  2. Hi there, my problem is that I feel guilty if I don’t do helpful stuff. Let me explain, I am a stay at home mum of a two and a half year old, and we have quite relaxing days as it is. They are not MINE, but they are relaxing nevertheless, I have to admit. No morning rush, go to playgroups, or park, or coffee with other mummys… so on the two afternoons that she is in nursery I do all the things I don’t do when she is around, i.e. housework. I have never mentioned any of this Peter, because I am very aware that in this matter, every persons circumstances will vary and I think is very difficult to cover them all. That is why, when I read you book I put into practice every single advice except the boxing day. I took that that one was for people that didn’t have time for themselves and I kind of do.
    I hope I have explained myself!

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    1. Hi Amaia – thanks for your comment. Very interesting! First thing I’d say is Boxing Day isn’t compulsory! If you feel you get enough me-time in your life, Boxing Day probably isn’t for you. Why not keep the idea in reserve. If in the future life starts to get too crowded and you begin to feel like you’re losing ‘yourself’, whip out your diary and schedule one in. 🙂

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  3. Yes, totally! I am sure I will need it when I get a job. And I am sure I won’t feel guilty about it! Thanks for your reply 🙂

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  4. Hello again – really interesting to read how other folk approach Boxing Days. I do feel that for me, a working mother, getting out of the house is probably the best option; while I’m in the house, I’m more likely to be swept up in other people’s agendas (such as the spouse’s surprise visitor, which happened to me on my last Boxing Day, as I described – or even the shock realisation that there is no cat food). Interested to know if any of you have read Kelly McGonigal’s book, Maximum Willpower. I’ve learned from her book that our willpower is quickly depleted, even from everyday fatigue and decision-making, let alone the really tough, goal-getting stuff. Boxing Day seems a great way to allow us to rest from these demands: I still think it’s a really good idea, and the fact that it is so difficult to make it happen is quite revealing. It just shows what we’re up against!

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