Managing Christmas As A Newly Adoptive Parent

Christmas! My favourite time of the year. I’ve always loved the lights, the celebrations, the family time. It’s just perfect. So, I had high expectations for Christmas with our newly adopted children. After all, Christmas is for the kids isn’t it? So adding two small people into the mix could surely only bring more joy and happiness!


Even though I had been in conversations with a very wise person from Adoption UK, who tried to talk to me about how to manage Christmas as a newly adoptive parent – I didn’t really listen. She had suggested that:


  • Christmas can be a very difficult time for adopted children.  They might not have had a Christmas previously, or it may have been a very hard time of year for them (for all sorts of reasons), so they may not have the same excited feeling as we did.
  • The idea of a strange man entering the house while we are sleeping might terrify the children – their idea of Santa may not be the same as ours.
  • Our expectations of Christmas may cause unwanted behaviours to appear as the children try to fit in with what may be a very stressful occasion for them.
I did listen to all of this – I promise I did!  She suggested that we keep Christmas low key, stay at home, don’t get out and about too much, and don’t have too high expectations.  


So this is what we did:


  • Bought FAR too many presents – the children had more than any one child could need and were clearly overwhelmed.  The worst part was that they didn’t even really want most of what we had bought – we were clearly (looking back now) trying to overcompensate for what we felt they might have missed out on.
  • We didn’t spend the day at home – instead we opened presents in the morning then were up and out by 11am to spend the day with family, and stay the night.  In fact we didn’t arrive back home until late on Boxing Day.
  • We definitely spent ages building the day up into a huge deal!  We talked about it constantly, did all Christmassy things (visiting Santa, watching Christmas films, Christmas Eve box, making gingerbread men, advent calendars and more!)
So, I had listened to the professionals and decided, subconsciously, to do my own thing.

The fall out?  

Well the children coped incredibly well – they really enjoyed themselves the whole way through. Great? Nope – it was me that had the problem.  Such a long time had been spent such building up to the perfect Christmas in my mind that, on the Big Day, I spent the whole morning sobbing in my room, trying to protect the kids from how I was feeling.  I just wasn’t feeling it. I didn’t feel like a Mum.  I didn’t feel the excitement I thought I should.  I didn’t feel the way other people said I should.  I just felt sad and depressed. It was awful – and it was all my own creation.


So, onto this year.  Well, the kids have been home for 16 months now.  We know each other really well and we are a proper little family now.  The children are really excited about Christmas! They have already got their Santa letters sorted (at their own request) and asked when we are going to visit Santa.  We have plans to buy a tree and decorate it as a family and we’ve talked about where we are going on Christmas Day. But there are some changes we have made this year.


  • We have significantly scaled back on presents.  This year the children will get a want, a need, a wear, a read and then a Santa present, as well as their stockings.  This has taken the pressure off everyone.  It means we can enjoy opening and playing with the presents, rather than rushing to open them all before we leave the house.
  • We are spending more time this year enjoying the season rather than the day itself.  So we have got lots of low key family time planned in. Just time to be together and enjoy the lights and the warm feeling Christmas gives us.
But the biggest thing of all? I’m letting go of what I think Christmas ‘should’ look like this year. My aim is to just enjoy being with each other and being thankful for each other. And I think that is what will make our Christmas just right this year!  

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17 Comments

  1. November 13, 2016 / 8:31 pm

    I hope you enjoy Xmas this year, your own way lol #EatSleepBlogRT

    • cherrynewby
      November 13, 2016 / 8:43 pm

      Thanks – I’ve got everything crossed it goes well 🙂 x

  2. Tooting Mama
    November 14, 2016 / 10:26 am

    I remember my first Christmas as an adoptive parent – our kids arrived in Jan build up started from then, no pressure! But the great thing is you can create your own traditions. I use Santa Tracker, to manage Christmas Eve, bake cookies, leave nibbles out for Rudolph, a tipple for Santa. Because last year was our first year in France I did a couple of videos (doing them this year!), just to let them know they weren’t forgotten – worked a treat. Have an amazing Christmas this year!

    • cherrynewby
      November 14, 2016 / 4:08 pm

      Thanks for your lovely comment! I’m hopeful that this year we can really think about the traditions we want to take forward rather than throwing everything at the poor kids and confusing the life out of them! x

  3. November 14, 2016 / 7:02 pm

    #eatsleepblogrt #marvmondays I get this, in fact as a bio mum I felt pretty simular and it was a let down – most Christmas’s are a bit naff. Your attitude seems right this year and I hope you enjoy it x

  4. November 14, 2016 / 9:55 pm

    It sounds like you are going to have a perfect christmas. What I like about Christmas is just doing family stuff and being together, and it sounds like you have a nice mix of this. #MarvMondays

    • cherrynewby
      November 14, 2016 / 10:08 pm

      I really do hope so – it’s taken a while but I feel so much more positive this year. Thanks for reading x

  5. monika
    November 15, 2016 / 12:22 am

    As parents we always want to create this perfect Christmas, birthday, etc and in the end it is about spending time with each other and actually creating little memories and family traditions that will last for years to come. x

    • cherrynewby
      November 15, 2016 / 3:07 pm

      You are absolutely right! The kids are already looking forward to repeating some of the things we did last year! x

  6. November 19, 2016 / 12:37 pm

    I think all parents build Christmas up a little bit too much for themselves, let alone the kids. I am sure this year will feel much more natural and exciting, without the huge burden of what you think it ‘should’ be. Relax and enjoy yourself and I am sure the kids will as well #EatSleepBlogRT

    • cherrynewby
      November 19, 2016 / 4:46 pm

      Thanks so much – I have much more reasonable expectations for this year so hopefully it’ll all pan out OK x

  7. November 20, 2016 / 12:09 am

    One of the things I realised after our first christmas with a little one, was that sometimes we create all these expectations of what we think christmas should be when you have a family. The first christmas we had together as a family of three was one of the most underwhelming, because I had built it up in my mind and had all these expectations of how it would be which just didnt measure up. Because that is the reality of life with little ones. I found the sooner that I let go and just enjoyed the festive season at their pace, I enjoyed it much more. I hope you all have a wonderful christmas this year 🙂 Thanks for sharing this on #MarvMondays. Emily

    • cherrynewby
      November 21, 2016 / 5:39 pm

      Thanks so much for your lovely message – I do feel much more chilled about it this year, and it is already going better than this time last year x

  8. November 24, 2016 / 11:54 am

    This sounds like a lovely Christmas – that’s a really good idea for reigning in the present buying. We always go a bit mad, and then family and friends also get stuff and then we have far too much stuff to evenever play with over the year. I end up regifting quite a lot of it as it never comes out of the box! That or squirelling some away for birthday in March. I hope you have a lovely holiday this year <3
    #myjoyproject

    • cherrynewby
      November 24, 2016 / 1:41 pm

      Thanks so much for your lovely message. It was only when I looked back this year that I realised how much the kids haven’t played with. I’m definitely only buying things they have actually asked for this year!

  9. Kym
    December 22, 2016 / 7:40 pm

    Thank you for this post. We will be celebrating our first Christmas with our little girl (2) and I plan to enjoy the day without creating expectations. Your insight really helped me gain perspective. Merry Christmas!

    • cherrynewby
      December 27, 2016 / 6:21 pm

      I hope you had a wonderful Christmas with your little girl. x

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