This Christmas, You Are Enough

If there’s one thing we can all relate to as parents, it’s the fear that we are failing our children. I think it’s something all parents have experienced at some point in our lives, doubting ourselves for the choices we make, the time we spend together, the things we have, and the things we don’t, far too aware of how our lives outwardly appear to others. I know I’m guilty of that absolutely.

And I guess now, with social media so prevalent in our lives, it’s even harder for us to live with these daily comparisons. I only have to scroll through my newsfeed to feel inadequate that my house doesn’t look quite as orderly as others, that my children don’t look quite as angelic, or our meals quite as healthy, that our weekends are not spent foraging for pinecones or icing perfectly golden gingerbread.

And when it comes to Christmas those feelings can become magnified as we are completely inundated with a flurry of photos taunting us on social media. And, this year, I am noticing it more than ever.

Because whilst some of us have spent hours creating the most perfectly decorated trees, hilarious scenes for our naughty elves, and extravagant advent calendars, filled with perfectly wrapped gifts and personalised treats, many of us haven’t.

And that’s okay, we are all different; we all have different ways to celebrate and spoil our children, there’s no right or wrong, no judgement here. But what I find really tough are the countless comments I see from other parents who haven’t gone to these lengths, who say, quite simply, “I feel like a failure.”

I find it incredibly sad that parents are left feeling like failures because they haven’t bought a beautiful wicker hamper and filled it with unique and adorable gifts from Etsy, because they aren’t spending their days creating origami snowmen or hand painting salt dough Santas to hang on their tree. I find it disheartening that others feel they have failed their children because their weekends are spent at home, watching a film in their pyjamas, instead of flocking to the nearest Santa’s grotto, snapping photos of a Winter Wonderland, to share later on Instagram of their #PerfectDay.

It breaks my heart that some parents feel they have let their children down because they didn’t get their hands on this years must have toy, that they aren’t dressed head to toe in matching fair isle pyjamas, that the items they flung into the trolley during the weekly supermarket shop are now somehow deemed as inadequate.

I find it desperately sad that we are measuring our success as parents in comparison to others.

Because the truth is, being a parent is bloody hard work and there is already way too much pressure on us to keep up with the crowd. And as a blogger it’s impossible to escape from, surrounded by beautiful social media accounts and creative yummy Mummies, and I’ll hold my hands up and admit that it does leave me questioning my own efforts. I find myself aimlessly scrolling through instagram, admiring beautiful flat-lays of book advents, 24 individually wrapped books to open each day, and extravagantly designed nativity costumes, hand sewn or expensively bought (a pillow case and a tea towel on the head no longer cuts the mustard apparently).

And then there’s the goddam Elf, an irritating little sprite which takes over our lives for 24 days of the year, which initially seemed like a harmless bit of fun but now, all of a sudden, there’s Elf outfits and vehicles, there’s multiple Elves, one in every colour, there’s websites and Facebook groups, a whole array of time consuming, and often expensive, ways to create a tableau of mischief every morning for the children.

And like we didn’t have enough on our plates already with Christmas stockings and an ever growing list of gifts, we now have the Christmas Eve boxes to contend with – hampers which have escalated from new pyjamas and a DVD in an empty shoe box  to carefully whittled wooden crates, embossed with individual names, filled with an array of festive goodies, beautifully illustrated books, luxury cocoa and hand made marshmallow snowmen.

And all of it, every little extravagance, is shared across social media. But for whose benefit?

Because in all honesty it feels like it’s not for our children’s benefit at all, or even really for ours. It feels like it’s very much for others to see just how wonderful we are as parents, how impressive our celebrations are together, to portray our lives in a way that is certainly ‘instagrammable’, but is completely and utterly lost on our children.

The truth is, I know that my children couldn’t care less if their Christmas pyjamas are presented in a Tesco carrier bag or a hand made wicker basket; whether they receive a bundle of expensive gifts in their stocking or a 3 pack of Kinder eggs; whether our Christmas tree is hand grown and imported from Lapland or dragged down from the attic covered in cobwebs; if their Christmas presents are wrapped in left over birthday wrapping paper or cocooned in a flurry of tissue, ribbons and bows.

And yet the truth is it wouldn’t look quite as lovely plastered across social media, would it?

And so I guess the important thing to remember is this: whether you buy your children just a handful of presents or a thousand perfectly wrapped presents; whether your Elf on the shelf is zip wiring down your stair case in a carefully fathomed miniature pulley system, or simply eating Nutella from the jar for the fifth year running; whether your children are wearing hand-made angel costumes, made from twenty layers of finest tulle, or rustling across the stage in a bin bag; in every Pinterest fail and non-instaworthy moment, with every burnt mince pie, and every over-tired post Christmas party melt down….

You are enough. 

So lets just stop comparing, let’s stop competing, and let’s just cut ourselves some slack. Remember that everything we see on social media is just one tiny snippet of a day, one moment in time that others want us to believe, and isn’t necessarily a true reflection of our lives at all. Remember that some people have far more time, far more money and prefer to celebrate far more extravagantly than others. Remember that sometimes we share those moments out of pride, out of guilt, out of habit, out of a need to compete with our peers, or seek affirmation that we aren’t failing our children after all.

And sometimes we share those photos simply because we live in a world where we share every aspect of our lives, so why shouldn’t we share the good times too? It’s not about bashing those who do it, or even looking to blame them for our own feelings of inadequacy. It’s about realising that actually, none of it matters if we just focus on our own families, and our own celebrations, and remember that regardless of all the money in the world, all the opportunities we can provide and the presents we can lavish, the very best gift we can give to our children is time, and love, and being enough. 

And you are. 

 

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67 Comments

  1. December 4, 2018 / 8:32 pm

    What a lovely piece. I totally agree with this and yes stop comparing and stop competing, do the best you can do and enjoy life xx

  2. December 4, 2018 / 8:48 pm

    I couldn’t agree more with your message of balance and Sanity. Also, I really do hate that darn elf. My older daughter has finally aged out of it and I honestly don’t know if I will have the energy with our toddler.

  3. Melissa
    December 4, 2018 / 9:13 pm

    I definitely agree with no comparing ourselves with others. I definitely go all out this time of year because I love it, but not every one is the same. We can’t afford to go crazy with presents, but we have a lot of traditions and make a lot of things. It is just so fun!

    • Laura Dove
      Author
      December 5, 2018 / 10:55 am

      Definitely Melissa! And we go all out too, and I make no excuses for that. I waited a long time for my children and I will spoil them as much as I want to. BUT that doesn’t mean that everyone else should do the same, it’s just about doing what is right for your family isn’t it? xx

  4. December 4, 2018 / 10:07 pm

    Interesting post Laura. I have always advocated that we are enough for our children with our floors, and the mistakes we make as parents I know I make plenty but my children know I love them with all my heart and will always do my best for them.
    What saddens me is that parents have not worked out how shallow and insignificant social media is and in particular Instagram if I see one more photo that is perfectly edited with the perfect smile. Because It has no resemblance to real life, well not mine anyways. I’m sure to scream. This is bloody nonsense.
    At some point this will backfire on us. For me people need to realise it is just fake shit surely to a half intelligent person, they can work that out. It really is not rocket science, quite simply don’t believe a single thing on social media that way you still stay sane.

    • December 5, 2018 / 1:12 am

      I totally agree with you. Why the he’ll are so many people feeling bad. They need to realise that anyone with their head screwed on should just worry about what they want to do and what their kids want from them eather than worrying about others. Enjoy IG and social media for what it is.. Pretty pictures and inspiration if you want that but not at the expense of time with families and working within budget. If people can’t work that out, then maybe they should stay off social media. It’ll only mess with your head if you’re not in a secure confident place. So it’s a No brainer to stay away from things that are bad for you, or just learn to brush it off. It’s really not that hard to do.

      • Laura Dove
        Author
        December 5, 2018 / 10:50 am

        From the many messages I received about this post from Mums’s feeling as though they are failing their children, it made me really sad that are SO many people who scroll through social media and allow it to make them feel bad. Whilst you and I know that it’s all smoke screens and mirrors, many people, particularly those who are struggling or feeling low, look to social media and allow it to make them feel inadequate. It’s really sad. xx

    • Laura Dove
      Author
      December 5, 2018 / 10:55 am

      You’re right Nige, and I feel so sad that there are way too many parents out there (many of whom messaged me yesterday about this post) who DO feel like failures when they scroll through social media and feel they have let their kids down by not having an expensive Smiggle calendar, or not having an elf, or not being able to afford a mountain of presents. As bloggers we are well aware that not everything you see on social media is real life, but I think perhaps some people need a reminder of that, particularly at this time of year. I guess all of us need to just focus on our own families, and doing the best we can for our children or, as you say, you really would go insane! xx

  5. December 4, 2018 / 11:59 pm

    Theses are some absolutely lovely shots. You have a great talent in photography.

  6. December 5, 2018 / 12:17 am

    I totally agree with all of this. Luckily enough for me I don’t feel inadequate when I see posts on social media. There’s always a good reason why we do what we do in the way that we do it. I’m not one for a Christmas tree with perfectly placed colour coordinated decorations … we have an 13 year old 7′ artificial tree that the children decorate every year. We disappear for a few days on the run up to Christmas to get away from all the hard-selling that’s on the TV. We know what our children would like for Christmas and we make that happen … but we don’t spend £100s on food etc. Christmas is just one day. Our focus is on keeping our little family traditions going. My children’s stockings are the same ones now as they had when they were toddlers – and shock horror – they are not personalised. Shoot me!

    • Laura Dove
      Author
      December 5, 2018 / 10:51 am

      Good for you Tracey! We do our own thing too and yes it involves lots of lovely things (which we wouldn’t have should I not work in the job I do) but that’s OUR christmas, and somebody else’s could be very different. I feel a real sense of responsibility as a blogger, particularly when we share reviews or days out, to really stress that everyone needs to do what is right for their family and not what they think they should be doing to keep up with picture perfect families on social media. xx

  7. Surekha Busa
    December 5, 2018 / 4:21 am

    This is so right. Stop feeling sad and thinking that you’re a failure when you can’t give what others can give to their children, we have different kids and were different mother. We don2know maybe their child appreciated and yours is not. So just do your best. Be the best parent you could ever to your child. That’s all that matters to them.

    • Laura Dove
      Author
      December 5, 2018 / 10:48 am

      Exactly. Be the best parent your child needs you to be and that is all that matters. xx

  8. December 5, 2018 / 6:18 am

    Even though I’m not a parent I totally agree with everything you have put. Social media is so tough as it can make everyone feel bad about what they’re doing even though we shouldn’t compare ourselves to others x

    • Laura Dove
      Author
      December 5, 2018 / 10:47 am

      Definitely, and it applies to everyone scrolling through social media feeling as thought their life doesn’t quite match up. It’s sad really. xx

  9. December 5, 2018 / 6:51 am

    Absolutely love this and it’s a great reminder at this time of the year!

    • Laura Dove
      Author
      December 5, 2018 / 10:47 am

      Thank you Chloe. xx

  10. December 5, 2018 / 9:33 am

    It’s so true! I wish I was better at cutting myself some slack – we all need to, especially at this time of year 🙂

    • Laura Dove
      Author
      December 5, 2018 / 10:46 am

      I think we all need to remember that what we see on social media isn’t always the full picture, it’s important that we do what is right for our families. xx

  11. Aia
    December 5, 2018 / 9:50 am

    I don’t know if my mom ever thinks that she is a failure. I hope she did not.
    Thank you for sharing this thought. I never imagined parents would have this kind of thinking. I felt guilty for not telling mom I am contented with all the things she gave us. =(

    • Laura Dove
      Author
      December 5, 2018 / 10:46 am

      I think all parents go through moments where we question whether we are being the best parent we can be, but comparing ourselves to others isn’t the right way to justify our choices. Sadly I do think there are lots of parents out there who feel this way. xx

  12. Alexandra
    December 5, 2018 / 11:12 am

    I am not a parent, but I feel that the most important thing is offering a child a safe and loving environment. Anything more than that is great, but life isn’t perfect, so you can’t always expect Christmas to be either. I enjoyed reading your perspective on this!

  13. December 5, 2018 / 11:49 am

    I really needed to read this yesterday. You’ve written this exactly how I’m thinking in my head right now. I feel extremely guilty at the moment because work is madness. This time of the year is so hectic for everyone anyway, but in the teaching world I feel like this is heightened massively! I’m trying to remember to breathe, slow down when I can, and enjoy the things that I can do – rather than the things I can’t. I enjoyed reading your thoughts on this. Thanks for sharing! xx

  14. December 5, 2018 / 12:08 pm

    I 100% agree with this post and I think we all need to hear this time of year

  15. December 5, 2018 / 1:02 pm

    I 100% agree with you, I am feeling the strain at the moment and something needs to give

  16. December 5, 2018 / 2:12 pm

    I so agree with all of this. Jack is always coming home and saying that one of his friends is doing this or one of his friends is getting that and I am quite lucky in that he understands and accepts my reasonings for why we won’t be doing so. I feel like often it is just a competition between parents on social media and it will come back to bite them on the bum.

  17. December 5, 2018 / 3:20 pm

    It can be really hard to not compare yourself to others with social media, but social gives us a chance to stay connected to. I hope people take your message to heart and really focus on what the holiday season is about.

  18. December 5, 2018 / 5:04 pm

    Very well said Laura. I heard one of my neighbours boasting that they spent £500 on each child last year and on Facebook they posted a room full of presents piled high. It does make others feel bad – and that is so not what Christmas should be about.

  19. December 5, 2018 / 6:11 pm

    Great message! I often try to remember that quote or lesson that “Comparison is the Thief of Joy!” Obviously with social media this is even worse. I often scope out fitness pages comparing their abs to my lack of…or get horrible wanderlust as I skim my Instagram watching people travel the world. So I can only imagine how hard it must be for parents who struggle to make ends meat to care for their families or just aren’t as “creative”.
    But YOU ARE ENOUGH!
    First of all children don’t have much to compare things to and wont really remember anyways. I say this because my mother killed herself working hundreds of hours of overtime to always give us great Christmases…But I don’t even remember the gifts. I just remember spending time with my family…where we were together…the dinners…the fun. So do what you can…try your best. But remember it’s YOU that is what will make our Christmas memories!
    Merry Christmas…

  20. December 5, 2018 / 6:37 pm

    I love this, Honestly there are times when I feel I am not doing “enough” but in reality, my kids have everything they need and most of what they want! They have so much love and happiness, and just because we don’t have all of the expensive stuff doesn’t mean we aren’t doing great as parents.

  21. December 5, 2018 / 7:10 pm

    I’m always such a worrier about this anyway!! We’ve never done elf on the shelf so that’s one less thing to worry/think about, and with my IG account being more about nature I’m definitely staying out the decor competition!!!

  22. December 5, 2018 / 7:40 pm

    I really loved this, no point of competition or comparison let’s live for us and be happy.

  23. December 5, 2018 / 8:10 pm

    Yes, so important to remember. As parents we sometimes try to do so much and then we’re exhausted and can’t enjoy the holidays. I try to relax and focus on the moment now!

  24. December 5, 2018 / 8:45 pm

    Not being a parent myself, I remember the magic of Christmas growing up, mum would always tell us stories of Santa and seeing the cookies and milk been eaten was special. I agree today social media plays a big part in how we feel and the need to compete. Keep the magic alive and the kids would remember that more than how Nextdoor had or got more. 🙂

  25. December 5, 2018 / 9:40 pm

    Yes yes yes!! I’ve fallen victim to this comparison before but last year I just didn’t have the time for it and this year I’m keeping it simple and loving it. Yes they will have a Christmas Eve box but it’s not a wicker one and it a tradition I love doing. Yes we will make gingerbread men and other Christmas shapes…. but I love baking and quite frankly I love gingerbread and want to eat as much as I can stomach 😉
    Comparison truly is the thief of all joy and it’s so important to remember that our kids just want us and our time at Christmas (plus a few gifts to open)

  26. December 5, 2018 / 10:57 pm

    Such a great post. There is too much pressure put on parents via social media and comparing yourself to others is just a slippery slope. I’ve stopped giving a damn what people think and have made an effort to stop comparing myself as a parent to others. My son loves me, tells me so and is thriving so I’m must be doing a good job, even through the bad days. Social media has alot to answer for and I for one am starting to take less notice on there!

  27. December 6, 2018 / 12:54 am

    I am not a parent, but I enjoyed this post. When I have a child/children, I will enjoy creating a beautiful christmas experience, despite what money or means we may have. My own mother showed me how to do that and I will carry that forward 🙂

  28. Jessica Taylor
    December 6, 2018 / 2:03 am

    Christmas can be so overwhelming. I am so thankful for my family, and really need to learn to appreciate the real reason for the season!

  29. Marjie Mare
    December 6, 2018 / 5:00 am

    I love your post and share your sentiment. I do believe in giving time, a hand, smile, and love are priceless gifts to give this season.

  30. December 6, 2018 / 6:54 am

    Comparing ourselves to others is always our downfall, I loved this piece because it definitely hit home for most of us.

  31. December 6, 2018 / 7:01 am

    I so agree stop comparing and competing. The only person we wanted to compare is the person in the mirror. Xmas is about having good time with family and friends. No matter where you celebrate, be contented. Very well written post and those who are miserable should have a good read.

  32. December 6, 2018 / 11:22 am

    I love the message here. Thankfully I don’t compare myself with anyone and I am not bothered with social media feeds. Christmas means a lot more to us than what we see online.

  33. December 6, 2018 / 11:55 am

    i so agree with everything that you written here i was brought up in Poland so we celebrate Christmas differently , and as a family we spend less on gifts – that works for us as it keeps me sane , and i try my hardest not to compare myself with other families , i think everyone is different and we all do different things for our families – and that does not mean that we are better or worse than our friends – you are enough is a powerful message x

  34. December 6, 2018 / 2:31 pm

    Oh yes! Do not worry if you do not have lavish gifts to give everyone. Remember your presence is enough for the family gathering 🙂

  35. December 6, 2018 / 3:15 pm

    I’ve got a confession to make – I look at your IG feed and feel those things you’re saying, lol! I try my best, but the grass is always greener, you know? Wishing you all a wonderful Christmas, and keep up the great work. 🙂

  36. December 6, 2018 / 4:54 pm

    This is a great post and says it how it is. This day and age it is not easy to manage expectations with social media but everything is worth a try

  37. December 6, 2018 / 5:59 pm

    Very well said I am not a parent yet but we are trying now. And everyday I as myself am I ready enough to handle the big responsibility. I am aware it is a life changing but also very fulfilling was you raise a child of your own. This words by yours are very inspiring very uplifting.

  38. jessica
    December 6, 2018 / 6:48 pm

    I definitely needed this. Especially running my own business, I use social media a ton and sit there and stare at everything everyone else is posting on social media. It makes me feel like I’m not enough, but I have to remember that it’s not a competition to look perfect on the internet. In the end, I want to have more experiences over more things.

  39. December 6, 2018 / 9:05 pm

    I have so much love for this post! You are spot on, and we should all really try and remember that being present and with family and friends counts so much more than ‘stuff’, a perfect kitchen or any instagram snap xx

  40. December 6, 2018 / 11:12 pm

    What a lovely post. I always feel like I’m not a good enough mum when Christmas rolls around and everyone else is spoiling their kids rotten while I’m usually struggling to even afford the essentials. I’m usually glad when it’s all over and we can go back to normality. But then part of me feels sad that we didn’t have the ‘perfect’ Christmas. I guess we can never win! LOL

    Louise x

  41. December 7, 2018 / 2:56 am

    I agree with your insights about how the fun and spirit of Christmas has changed over the period of time. Earlier dragging the Christmas tree down decorating it and getting any gift wrapped in any paper was good enough, but now things have changed so much

  42. December 7, 2018 / 3:36 am

    Absolutely agree! I think we all definitely need some more self love. Comparing ourselves can be so toxic. We are more than enough.

  43. December 7, 2018 / 7:47 am

    I felt the same during late November. So I decided to take a step back, let my etsy shop to it’s fate and enjoy the holidays with my family. Best decision ever! I am enough!

  44. December 7, 2018 / 8:31 am

    Where we live I think the majority of it is showing off to others what they have and one upmanship all the time. It’s very sad and part of the reason we want to move as it’s not something I want Lucas surrounded with

  45. Wendy
    December 7, 2018 / 9:17 am

    Yes!! I completely agree with this! We don’t need to do all the extra stuff, our kids don’t care about it all so why should we? Social media is awful for making us feel inadequate, I’m so much happier now I don’t use Instagram xx

  46. December 7, 2018 / 9:34 am

    I am not a social media fanatic so I am not even aware of the Elf thing that you are referring to and I don’t have an account on Instagram. I think the reality is that every child is asked when they return to school after the holidays “how was Christmas?” or “What did you get for Christmas?” so in my mind that is where the pressure is felt on children themselves. Never mind social media there is a lot of pressure among peers at schools for children.

  47. December 7, 2018 / 4:55 pm

    Oh yes, I hear you loud and clear! We are scaling it right down this year and you know what, we will survive! I haven’t completely got rid of the pressure feeling but its a lot easier than usual. Our Elf has been asleep on the shelf for the past few days until one of the girls moved him herself. Our Christmas PJs are from last year – I *might* even get them all clean in time for Christmas Eve! Happy Christmas to you and your gorgeous family x

  48. December 7, 2018 / 5:02 pm

    “…in every Pinterest fail and non-instaworthy moment, with every burnt mince pie, and every over-tired post Christmas party melt down…. you are enough” this is the must beautiful thing I’ve read lately! And btw your pics are a-mai-zing!

  49. Arleene Mendoza
    December 7, 2018 / 7:42 pm

    This is so true!! I love to do stuff with my boys but they understand what Christmas is all about and thankfully they don’t care for gifts.

  50. Jennifer Prince
    December 7, 2018 / 7:53 pm

    I need this! I am totally feeling “not enough” this year. I appreciate the sentiment -, especially around the holidays! 🙂

  51. December 7, 2018 / 8:37 pm

    I’ve seen so many people saying social media is making them feel inadequate just lately, it really is sad isn’t it x

  52. December 7, 2018 / 8:40 pm

    This Christmas, You Are Enough Is a great article for those that believe in the holiday.

  53. December 8, 2018 / 3:19 pm

    I really hate the pressures of Christmas sometimes. Wish it was less commercialised, and more about thoughtful, handmade gifts.

  54. December 9, 2018 / 6:13 am

    This is such a post full of warmth. It made me realize that I should be grateful of what I ahve and be contented with all the blessings showered over me. Yes, the social media life can really creep into our heads, we get a lot of emotions from it.. and most of it can lead to anxieites and doubts, and even fears. But, it’s not really all about reality, but more of what people would want us to see from their end. Thanks for such a wonderful post now that Christmas is nearing. Time to be in touch with what’s really important, and that is Him.

  55. December 9, 2018 / 7:55 am

    I love this. Comparison is really not good when you can’t handle yourself well. I only compete with myself and it makes me a better person.

  56. December 10, 2018 / 3:18 am

    Yes I agree with you completely we need to stop comparing as competing. We need to do whatever possible in our hand.

  57. December 11, 2018 / 3:00 pm

    Recently, there was a video on FB about what parents think about parenting vs what their kids think of their parents. The results were astonishing and reminds me of this post’s message.

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