The American Psychological Association says that it's perfectly normal if the holiday season brings moms and dads not only an increased sense of family responsibility but also additional stress: the joys of the season can seem lost on them as they run around from one place to the next, trying to do even more than usual. It's an overwhelming time of the year.
So, to help them unwind, Bored Panda has collected the funniest and most honest parenting tweets from December. The recap of the month features both Christmas and everyday moments so even those who wish to put the holidays behind them will have something to giggle at.
Vicki Broadbent, an award-winning filmmaker and blogger at Honest Mum who is also the author of bestselling book MUMBOSS: How to Survive and Thrive At Work and At Home, told Bored Panda that parents often burn out during the holidays because they place far too much pressure on themselves to create the perfect Christmas and New Year for their kids—which can be unrealistic at best and damaging and draining at worst.
"While conjuring up a festive family dream is wonderful in theory and comes with good intention, from a place of love, it can become a huge strain for parents both mentally and financially," Broadbent said. "Debt is not just for Christmas, folks, it rolls on all year long, particularly when you overspend. Live within your means and that means on the Big Day too. The anxiety to keep up with the Joneses seems tenfold now that we're bombarded with everyone else's festive prep on our timelines, be it the ever-more-elaborate mischievous set-ups every year of that swine, Elf on the Shelf to virtual Santa visits and, worst of all, mountainous piles of presents in some sort of matching wrapping paper present Olympics by parents with their peers."
Broadbent thinks parents should ignore what they see on social media and remind themselves that children remember the quality time with their parents over the holidays more than anything (ideally, rested and relaxed, not frazzled parents).
"Think back to what you recall fondly from your own Christmases past in childhood... I'd put money on you remembering a few key Christmas gifts (me, a Cabbage Patch Kid I still own); decorating the tree, laying out the mince pie and carrot for Santa, and forcing your merry mum to watch Miracle on 34th Street for the millionth time with you."
And she is absolutely right. Psychologist Dr. David Walsh, known for translating cutting-edge brain science to everyday practice for parents, teachers, and other professionals, says the positive feelings of warmth, safety, or happiness are examples of what he calls 'emotional memories.'
"Emotional memories are very powerful and very important," Dr. Walsh writes. "Just as experiences link together different connections in our brain, experiences also wire together emotional connections. Emotions are especially powerful because they focus our attention and are a major determinant for what we remember."
While presents might feel important now, Dr. Walsh argues that the greatest gift we can give our children is to create a rich set of positive emotional memories. "Creating family traditions, focusing on the meaning of the season, and carving out time for reflection can help buffer stress and provide a foundation for memories that last a lifetime."
So how can parents do this? Broadbent suggests starting by planning Christmas in advance, especially when it comes to the festive budget (expenses for decorations, food, and presents)—becoming proactive and not reactive to pressures and changes, adversities.
"No one could have foreseen a pandemic this year, which spoiled our planned gatherings, yet here we are. Budget for a Christmas you want for your family which includes a contingency plan and that won't compromise your life for the other 11 months of the year. Remember, you are not expected to share this period online unless you want to, so don't feel a duty or pressure to photograph and share your experiences on social media," she said.
"If anyone makes you feel bad about yourself, mute, unfollow, or take a break over this more pressured time. Be in the moment, switch off as much as possible and let your hair down a little, you deserve it."
You will always be able to catch up on what's viral with Bored Panda later!