Remember to monitor the family's behaviour this Christmas

Ruth Davies's three young children getting in the festive spirit

Ruth Davies's three young children getting in the festive spirit - Credit: Ruth Davies

It'll be a different kind of Christmas this year and probably one with fewer arguments than normal.

I think we all know with there may be a few frayed tempers because, families and friends, lush as they are and as much as we’ve missed them, can cause conflict… How to handle unwanted advice, gripes and groans is something I’ve not quite mastered but venting about it sure does help!

When you become a parent you open yourself up unwittingly as fair game for comment. Everyone who’s been a parent before you (or worse, those who don’t even have children) have opinions on how you should be raising your little darlings and boy, that stuff can get tired. 

I remember as a child being at an aunt’s house while she and another auntie were upstairs changing the baby… Loud and clear a detailed report of how they both felt towards a third aunt, and her children, came blasting over the baby monitor. Guess where the third aunt was? Bum twitches for the uncles, giggles from us children and a very sour-faced aunt met the other two as they swept down the stairs completely unawares - it’s one of the standout family Christmas memories I have. “We’re going Martin,” the third aunt declared and to this day I’m not sure any of them have ever been quite the same with each other! 

It’s human nature to moan about other people, we all do it. But, there’s a difference between saying it out loud and thinking it inside your head. I for one am gonna try to keep my opinions to myself this Christmas having recently suffered first-hand at “advice” on how to raise my children by a well-meaning pal. 

My glamorous, single friend lives alone in one of the most exciting cities in the world, our lifestyles couldn’t be further apart but we have known each other forever and I love her dearly so while we differ wildly (and I wouldn’t dream of touching on the fact she is still single, roaring past 40 and doesn’t seem happy about it) we just get on with it. Aside from this episode of “mothering advice” which came directly from a roof top party in Manhattan to my bum changing station in Norfolk, we’re usually good, but it proves anyone can annoy when the loose lips start rolling!
“You aren’t teaching him consequences,” came the message when she’d seen my social media posting at tidying up after my toddler. “He made the mess you should make him clean it up. I’m not judging you…” she said, only to follow it up with “But this is not how I would do things!” I’m afraid it really got my back up. “You’ll see one day…” I told her. “You’ll see…” 

I tried to explain that a toddler isn’t a reasonable human being who A) listens or B) could tidy to my standards (frankly it’s easier to do it myself than reason with him). Do I make him put a few bricks in a bag? Of course but the child is three and anyone with a three--nager like mine would know there are bigger fish to fry than demanding accountability! 

My response upset her, she again upset me and we got to a point where I had to say enough! There was only so much I could take from this gal pal living among white surroundings with only cats to care for. We all have ideals before children that our little ones won’t play with garish toys or wear motif clothing as they eat non-refined sugary treats which were home-made from dates (not a treat) but put those ideals into practice and needs must. Telling us off for those needs is not fun!

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Apparently this friend was using knives and making her own lunches at my toddler’s age so I can only surmise that her mother didn’t have the same sort of tidy (or safety) standards as my own and I’m looking forward to one day being able to say to my friend “oh really? You’re actually going to feed him that?! Terribly bad for their temperament you know…” and watch her defocus with annoyance at my superiority while I’m sat with children far older and more capable of being normal human beings than her own!

But that’s just the friends…

Family can be almost worse as you literally don’t have a choice. Upset one and like dominoes, the whole game comes crumbling down with sides picked and EastEnder dumph dumphs going off all over Chrimbo. It Is my prediction that after months of solitude there may be less of the narks this year (silver 2020 linings) but they will still come and what can we flipping do about it other than plaster smiles on our faces and get through? Wine will help (if you’re not pregnant) and thankfully my own bubble is small and perfectly formed (weeded out) so I’m hoping we personally will remain unscathed!

It’s Christmas, we need lots of love and hugs and being with each other – and maybe a bit of mindfulness if the baby monitor is on – just a flick of the switch could save the day, worth remembering!

Ruth Davies has a parenting blog at

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