The holiday’s are officially upon us. Hanukkah started last week and Christmas is right around the corner. The holidays are undoubtedly one of my favorite times of year, but there is always a trade off with young kids. Our schedules are busier, their sugar consumption is off the charts, and the excitement of Santa’s arrival is palpable. Not all of these things are bad, minus the sugar maybe, but with young kids it’s all about management. As parents, we are responsible for deciding ‘how much is too much’ and knowing what our kids can handle. While it may look quite different from pre-baby days, there are ways to manage and truly enjoy the holidays with toddlers in tow – meltdowns and all!
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Tips For Managing The Holidays With Toddlers
Keep To A Schedule
Sticking to a schedule during the holidays isn’t always easy, with midday meals and late afternoon plans. It’s totally reasonable to push naps and bedtime a bit, but kids truly thrive with a schedule. To the extent that you can, try scheduling holiday events around naps and regular bedtime – an overtired toddler is often not an enjoyable one. The consistency of their normal routine should help minimize the chaos of the holidays.
Space Out The Gifts
Opening gifts can be so much fun, but a little overwhelming for toddlers. In my experience, spacing out the gifts and slowing down the pace provides toddlers with a second to focus on a few presents at a time. Some toddlers may feel uncomfortable with all the attention and excitement of Christmas morning. Ease more tepid little ones into the process with a gift every so often throughout the day.
Pack Favorite Foods
If you plan on traveling for the holiday, I always suggest bringing food you know your toddler will eat. It’s great to give it a shot and offer the food prepared by the host. Exposure to new foods is never a bad thing. But, toddlers are typically known for their picky eating habits. This year, I offered to bring a side dish for Christmas dinner that I know my son will eat, a win-win for everyone.
Involve Kids In Gift Giving
Most adorable and fun-loving toddlers tend to be pretty, how do I say this nicely, egocentric. I have two toddlers of my own and the “I”s and “Me”s just come with the territory. Try to include older toddlers in the gift giving process by choosing, wrapping, and handing out gifts to family members. Even at a young age, toddlers can begin to grasp the concepts of sharing and thinking of others.
Speak To Relatives Beforehand Re: “Toddler-isms”
Before I head to my parent’s house for the holidays, I always remind them of what it’s like spending time with toddlers. I also remind them in some cases to lower their expectations, especially in relation to gift giving. Toddlers are often an unpredictable bunch who tell it like it is – and some adults forget that. While you can’t thwart every “I don’t like your shoes” comment, a gentle reminder may help avoid hurt feelings.
Meltdowns Are Normal
The holidays can be overwhelming and emotional for adults, never mind young children. While it won’t be any less frustrating for you, it’s completely reasonable to expect a few meltdowns this holiday season. There are so many variables for little ones to navigate, like unfamiliar faces, new foods and gifts, loud music, and routine disruptions. It can be hard to relate at times, but new things can be scary and overwhelming for toddlers. Its easier said than done, but you might be hoping for an extra dose of patience under the tree this year.
Enjoy The Moment
Christmas is truly such a magical time with children. The excitement and wonder they exude is contagious. The holidays are about making memories and toddlers are only toddlers for such a short period of time. Savor the special moments, take lots of pictures and videos, and revel in the magic of the holidays through the eyes of your children.
Family Christmas via Shutterstock