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How to make Christmas work with 3 sets of grandparents

(33 Posts)
MATB1 Tue 25-Nov-14 16:08:05

My parents are divorced and both remarried then there's PIL. All live close by.

We have two small DDs.

Christmas is always really difficult to sort. We tend to upset someone every year and either have three or four "Christmas Days" between 24-29 Dec, or do loads of running around on Christmas Day and/or Boxing Day.

Last year we had all the parents come to us but it was too much for DD1 being the only kid amongst a gaggle of competitive enthusiastic grandparents. DM was also fairly rude about the whole day afterwards (but that's another thread) so I'm not massively keen to repeat that experience.

All of them say they'll go with whatever we decide but that just feels like the whole thing is down to us to decide and plan.

It feels impossible to be honest.

Does anyone else have this palaver? How do you manage it???? Help!

bryonyelf Tue 25-Nov-14 16:13:29

I'd start with Christmas Day just you. Then visit each on Boxing Day?

LikeSilver Tue 25-Nov-14 16:25:53

We have the same. I refuse to see any of them on Christmas Day and refuse to engage in any histrionics about it; Christmas Day is ours to spend as a little family and if any of them are upset by that I see it as their choice to take it personally to be honest (can you tell I am so bored of the drama!). I spent my Christmases as a child rushing about to get stuff done with one parent before I had to rush to the others and I won't have that for my kids, I want them to feel excited by and look forward to Christmas Day.

DH has a week off over Christmas so they get a day each generally. My mum usually tries to guilt trip us into spending two or three days with her in some way or another, I suppose so she can feel like she's 'won', but these days I just say no thanks we're busy we'll see you in the New Year.

I sound terrible! I'm really not a horrific bitch, I just want my kids and DH and I to enjoy ourselves and be as relaxed as we can - that means putting ourselves first sometimes.

MATB1 Tue 25-Nov-14 16:34:14

Actually bryony that's what I was thinking for this year. We could do breakfast lunch and dinner with each set I guess. Thing is I know they'll all go to town with the meals so that could be tricky to position with them. Then there's a part of me that feels bad that they'll sit on their own on Xmas Day.....

Well that's it likesilver - as a kid Christmas was fraught with guilt and anxiety for me and I really don't want my kids to grow up with the same.

I feel bad to PIL as they've got to bear the brunt of my parent's divorce too!

thegreylady Tue 25-Nov-14 17:01:19

My dd has to cope with 3 sets too. Her dh's parents are divorced and remarried and there is us. She does an alternate years thing with the inlaws and we can go anytime as we get on with all of them and some years we go to my dsc for Christmas. The problem is that the inlaws cannot be in the same room so mil turns up on Christmas morning every alternate year (when it isn't her turn) to be in on the present opening etc then she leaves midmorning. There are other dc/dgc for fil but mil doesn't get on with her stepdc at all and her other son is abroad.

spaghettiarms1 Tue 25-Nov-14 17:15:13

Similar story here, three sets of grandparents and its always me, dh & our two boys rushing around everywhere.
Every. Bloody. Year.
Well, this time we are doing it our way. We are having Christmas day to ourselves in our house for the first time. (we will enjoy time with the family on surrounding days)
Ds1 is 6 & ds2 is 3, I am so excited! fgrin

FortyFacedFuckers Tue 25-Nov-14 17:18:41

We have one set of grandparents on Christmas morning to see DS's presents and have breakfast. We then go to my parents for dinner & we then have boxing day with the other set.

juneau Tue 25-Nov-14 17:20:33

Why don't you suggest that one of them hosts and you'll come along? That way you can escape when it all becomes too much and you kill three birds with one stone grin

MATB1 Tue 25-Nov-14 17:25:08

I'm glad to not be alone but also sorry you have to deal with this too. I don't have any friends with the same problem so no one really gets it when I say I'm dreading christmas as they all love it.

DM is the worst out of everyone tbh. She lays on the guilt and gets all down and fed up about the whole thing and point blank cannot see that it's really hard for us, just how hard done by she is..........

My dad bless him just wants an old school Christmas with music and games and laughing and crackers and party hats but it never seems to work out like that.

Dh's just got in from work and I've floated the idea of Christmas Day just us and Boxing Day running around past him and he thinks that sounds good. Now I just need to man up and not feel guilty about the thought of my parents all sitting alone in their respective houses...... And then tell them that's what we want to do. Gulp.

IsItMeOr Tue 25-Nov-14 17:25:46

Well FIL announced years ago that he and his wife weren't going to be "doing" Christmas any more, so we are spared some of this.

This year we are having Christmas eve, day and Boxing day to ourselves. We will see DH's mum and sister the weekend before Christmas, and my parents the weekend after.

It helps (hmm probably not quite the right word!) that 5yo DS has been diagnosed with ASD this year, and last Christmas was horrendous, so we are very focused on making it survivable for our nuclear family.

Cupoftchaiagain Tue 25-Nov-14 17:31:40

We have for the last few years done alternate Xmas at either my Mum's or mil's with an overnight stay at each on either Xmas eve or Xmas day, Boxing Day at my dad's, and collapsing in a dark room for days afterwards. This year we hope to have Xmas eve and Xmas morning in our own house with 2yr old dd, then to my Mum's and stay overnight, dad's Boxing Day, and mil is away seeing other son's family. Helps that they all love within half an hour.

MATB1 Tue 25-Nov-14 18:51:37

I kind of wish they'd all just make their own plans so it's not all down to us.

Fitting in siblings and their partners and stepfamilies too just makes it all a logistical nightmare.

I'd kind of like to go away at Christmas and ignore the whole bloody thing but then I feel bad for my DDs.

I'm also worried about Christmas Day just feeling like any other day if it's just the 4 of us.

Misty9 Tue 25-Nov-14 22:31:12

We've got four sets! Bloody modern families grin only dh parents live nearby so mine generally miss out but this Christmas we're staying put and sod the lot of them! My mum and husband are coming after Christmas and we'll trek over to see my dad and his wife in january. Haven't figured out what we're doing with the other two sets yet but it won't be on the day itself. Our dc are under four so I was also concerned it'll just be another day of mind numbing childcare - but there's a few threads on that topic with good ideas on here rrecently. We're going to spread out present opening by playing with each one before the next, have a Christmas walk, splash out on really nice food, have a family gift of a board game and play that, and stay in our Christmas pjs!

Have a lovely day whatever you do.

StrangeGlue Wed 26-Nov-14 13:12:30

Ah they expect too much! Dh has been very clear that neither of our sets of parents ever visited their parents over Xmas so cannot expect that from us. We always have Xmas at home and generally my parents and brother come over at somepoint and we see pil at some other point.

You don't have to run about doing this. Work out what you want and go from there.

TheAuthoress Wed 26-Nov-14 13:21:15

Since we've had DCs we have Christmas dinner on our own in our house, but it's an open house in the morning so everyone who wants to can pop in for a cuppa and mince pie and see DCs. Then they all go to wherever they are having dinner and we have Christmas dinner just the four of us and relax with no rushing about or making sure to get home before the children are overtired etc.

I love it, don't have to be obligated to be anywhere else, and by not giving anyone a particular time to come they can all come and leave when suits them, depending on where they are going or what time they are having dinner at.

I must also mention that we have ready prepared M&S Christmas dinner so I'm not spending hours in the kitchen!

peppapigonaloop Wed 26-Nov-14 13:42:30

Do your parents get on? Could you alternate years so the pil get one xmas, your parents and spouses the next? And on the year that is not theirs go to them for a seperate xmas day? Then not so much running about and a bit more typical xmas with alternatibg parents etc?
Obvs not an option if they hate each other!

marne2 Wed 26-Nov-14 13:51:33

We have Christmas Day on our own, my mum can visit later in the day if she likes or we see her on Christmas Eve, we spend the 27th of December at my dads and we visit FIL sometime before new year.

juneau Wed 26-Nov-14 16:53:04

Seriously, don't feel bad and don't worry about it being Christmas was just the four of you. I have two sets of parents too (and now ILs too), and as a child had to have two Christmases every year, taking it in turns to be with one parent on Christmas Day and the other on Boxing Day. As a result, I've had enough days of bloody Christmas to last me a lifetime!

Last year we saw my family the weekend before Christmas and had Christmas Day just the four of us. OMG it was lovely! We didn't have to get dressed up or entertain or anything. We just opened our stockings, I shoved an M&S turkey with trimmings in the oven, DH and I opened a bottle of champagne at 11am and we had crackers and party poppers at lunchtime, opened our tree presents and then went out for a walk. It was honestly the nicest, least stressful Christmas I've ever had. I can highly recommend it.

PicandMinx Wed 26-Nov-14 16:59:43

Do Christmas your way. I've lost count of the number of times I've tried to keep all the ILS and everyone happy. So a few years ago, we just stopped running around seeing everyone on Christmas Day and just pleased ourselves. DH, the DC, cats and dogs and me. Lovely.

MATB1 Wed 26-Nov-14 19:09:55

Thanks all. DH is v keen for it to be just us, but ever the people pleaser I'm shitting it about telling my parents the plan. To be fair, I'm sure my dad won't mind at all but I'm not sure how it'll go down with my mum. And I suspect it'll mean we can't all get together with my siblings but I'm the only one who truly ever seems to bother about making that happen so perhaps that'll be no biggie anyway.

Must look up those threads for making it a special day... And decide what order to do the running around on Boxing Day!

MATB1 Wed 26-Nov-14 19:15:36

Also it does feel a bit selfish as DH will finish work on 19th dec then isn't back until 5th jan and I'm on mat leave so we will get lots of time for just us anyway...

And for those asking if the parents get on. Well, yes and no. My parents will tolerate each other and be polite etc and there's generally no atmosphere as such but I know it's not how they would choose to spend their time. I think PIL find it awkward when everyone is together though. My step mum and MIL get on really well and sometimes see each other socially (which DH and I hate). Both DM and DF find FIL a bit of a knob at times. None of them would ever say it but I think they hate sharing the DGC with each other so all in all I think it's nicer for everyone if we don't mix them together wink

TheAuthoress Thu 27-Nov-14 10:10:58

How old are your DC? We just said we were staying at home as it wasn't fair to take the kids away from their new toys so maybe you could use that reason?

They'll get over it, you need to suit yourself and your wee family smile

girlywhirly Thu 27-Nov-14 10:34:01

If they all live close by it is easier to see relatives for a day or half day over the festive period. If DH is up for a Christmas day with just you and DC go for it, you will feel relaxed and more able to cope with all the other visits. Sometimes spreading presents out over a few days can work better for small DC as they are not overwhelmed, and day after day of different visits with no rest day in-between takes it's toll on adults too. Some actually go back to work for a rest!

MonstrousRatbag Thu 27-Nov-14 14:24:09

Would it be a better idea to host your mother on Christmas Eve, and split Boxing Day between the other two sets of GPs? 3 homes, 1 day sounds like an awful lot.

MATB1 Thu 27-Nov-14 16:56:14

DCs are 3yo and 5m.

This plan does make for a super busy Boxing Day and I'm conscious of feeling like we're just going for the presents but the actual visits themselves should be calmish if it's just us and each set of parents.

We've toyed with the idea of having a mini party late afternoon/early evening for friends and family but there's some nice stuff on in town on Christmas Eve so we couldn't do those things if we have people over.

Oh I don't know confusedsad

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