ColumnsNewsRachael Foster

Rachael Foster: ‘Tis the season to be stressed out

Being a solo mum of five this time of year is not only a struggle financially, but the amount of school activities I have to keep on top of is crazy.

With five children, in three different educational institutions and all in different year groups I need a PA just to keep up with the various events and activities. The last two weeks of school are an amass of Christmas ‘fun’. There’s the Christmas school fair, the Christmas Nativity, theChristmas jumper day, the carol concert, senior school stage performances,Christmas present buying day, Christmas bring your auntie to school day, Christmas kill a hamster day… And so it goes on.

Every morning around this time of year is a panic. I wake up thinking what is it I need to sort out today. Do I need to provide vegan friendly sandwiches for the party? Do I need to send my child in a politically correct, non-offensive slogan Christmas jumper? Do I need to provide a tombola prize (I only ate one chocolate out the box and used the hand cream once.. they will do! ) Or give my kids money to buy tat at the fair that will get broken inthe car before we even reach home. Money that could go towards my electricity bill or petrol. I am at this time of year just a taxi, bank, and memory goddess.

I am at this time of year just a taxi, bank, and memory goddess.

Not only are the last two weeks of school filled with a million things for the parents to remember or take part in, it is also the most chaotic time in the house with excited buzzing children singing carols with certain words changed so not to upset the snowflake society we now live in.

Decorations are out and the lights are continually flashing away day-in,day-out and laughing at me as my electricity meter rolls around with joy helping to provide my energy suppliers managing director with his big fat Christmas bonus.

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Then there is tinsel – which are banned in my house – yet each year somehow manages to show itself. It is used to decorate my female offspring’s hair occasionally. Once cut to size, it is a never-ending shredding machine. No matter where I hide it after it has been dissected to required size, it keeps molting with shreds appearing everywhere, yet the tinsel never seems to get any thinner. I swear tinsel has magic regenerative properties.

And finally, being a control freak: Christmas trees and toddlers just don’t bode well together. My main tree once first erected and decorated looked beautiful. I was very happy. However, over the past two weeks many a bauble, cracker and snow-tipped pine cone have been removed, thrown,chewed or rolled under the sofa. The bottom half of my tree now resembles a naked pine. Every night I replace the decorations – of which many have to be fished out from under the sideboard or sofa – which is time consuming and stressful, not fun. This is time which could be better spent wrapping and hiding presents where my teenagers may not think to look. Over the years they have discovered all my hiding places. This year my cunning plan it to wrap and hide them in the suitcases under my bed??

I’m not sure the long-haired, kimono wearing, sandal lover had all this in mind when he declared he was the saviour of man. If he now realised the amount of stress this season causes parents, I would ask him to reconsider his worldly declaration. Do you think JC ever wore socks with his sandals? Can’t stand that!

Anyway.. ‘tis the season to be merry. Have a good Christmas everyone!

Rachael Foster is a single mum to five children and lives in Netherfield. You can read her popular blog about parenting at

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