Growing up, Christmas was a magical time, great feasts of turkey and pudding, presents spilling out from under the tree and tinsel and lights sparkling through the lounge window. You never questioned how it all came together, you just ate, drank and played until you went to bed and it was time to look forward to Christmas next year.
Now you're a Mum you know exactly how Christmas came together. Your Mum spent months looking for the right presents, slaved over a hot oven and spent the rest of the day doing all the dishes while you lay about waiting for your food to go down!
No one told you that when you became a mother, Christmas would change irrevocably and probably not for the better. On top of the cooking, cleaning and bringing up of children on a daily basis you now have all the accompaniments of a major holiday to prepare for. "I don't look forward to Christmas" said Katie Maine, mum to Howard, 4 and Leila, 2, "I find I'm so busy bringing up two kids already that any extra work can upset my delicate balancing act".
Hannah Stevens, mum to Bethany, 11, Lainie, 8 and Tom 5, agrees. "I love seeing how happy my kids are but Christmas represents a whole lot more of what I usually do, housework. It doesn't feel like a holiday at all and because my husband is back to work on the 27th there's not even time to relax."
Invitation of extended family and friends can add to the stress Mums feel at Christmas time when having to cater for large numbers and different tastes. "I want to continue my family's tradition of big celebrations" said Sarah Stone, mum to Brittany, 7 and Lucas, 2, "but with twenty relatives to buy presents and cater for I feel exhausted before the day has begun."
It's not just the chores on Christmas day that can make life difficult for Mums. Tracey Longmuir, mum to Brandon, 6 and Tiff, 3, finds the lead up to Christmas trying, particularly when advertising is enticing young minds as early as October. "As soon as I see the first decorations go up on our High Street my heart sinks as I know it's going to be ‘Mummy can I have this, Mummy can I have that?' I almost wish I could blindfold my kids to keep the peace, and my sanity intact".
"It's the crowds that get me every time" said Sam McFarlane, mum to Vivienne, 2 and Thomas, 2 weeks, "I was almost reduced to tears last year, trying to do last minute Christmas shopping with a screaming toddler in tow. This year I have resolved to get everything sorted early, which means a whole different type of work getting everything planned and bought before the rush".
So why do we do it? It seems the same reason our Mums did. "Christmas was a difficult time with the extra work on top of everything I already had to do" said Anita Blohm, mum to Allison, 35 and Janelle, 34, now Mums themselves, "but the only thing I remember now is their bright faces when they realised Santa had been".