The hustle and bustle of the holidays has begun, and we are so excited for this amazing time of year! It’s filled with love and joy and it’s especially fun to see the season through the eyes of children. It’s a magical time! But along with the hustle and bustle comes, well, some chaos and craziness. We’ve gathered up some of our favorite tips for surviving (and enjoying) the holidays with your toddler.
Set your expectations … for yourself that is.
As parents it’s easy to get lost in the chaos of the season and trying to do all the things. From parties to activities to shopping to baking, it can be a lot! And typically, our children are along for the ride. Even though they don’t have a lot of say in the daily activities, it can be a wonderful time to help our children enjoy the reason of the season and get to be a welcomed part of all the festivities.
Knowing that we have so many opportunities for interactions with friends and family over the holidays, we should set our children up for the most success possible. When planning activities, we need to plan with our children in mind. We should expect that our children are going to be over-stimulated, overly tired, and definitely taken out of their normal routines. Whether you are travelling for the holidays or are home, your toddler will notice the changes taking place around them. Be ready to feed off those cues and adjust accordingly. Taking the time to give our little ones a break to recalibrate is just as important as the break we might need ourselves! Plan to do your best to stick to routines around eating and sleeping schedules but know that adjustments will need to be made and that’s ok.
Take the routines with you.
One of the ways we like to keep the environment as comforting and “normal” for our toddlers as possible is to include some of their favorite parts of their routine no matter where you are. Do they have a favorite song or book that they like to read before bed? Be sure to bring it with you. Do they always take a bath before bed? Plan to make time for that activity while you are away. Providing our toddlers with those comforting (and small) actions can help heed off many of the anxiety’s toddlers feel (and often they don’t even realize that is what they are feeling!) They are having so much fun and enjoying all the hustle and bustle that they don’t even realize when they are on their way to a meltdown or over-stimulated tantrum session.
By setting our expectations for what we know will likely come with our toddlers over the holidays, we can reduce the stress of the unexpected. When we are prepared with the comforting routines our toddlers know and love, we can set our expectations at a reasonable level allowing you and your little one to fully enjoy this magical time of year!
Reduce the overwhelm and don’t be afraid to ask for help.
We all want to make this time of year as special as we can. We want everyone to feel loved and showered with gratitude and thankfulness. Keep in mind that you are only one person, and you can’t do it all. As much as you would like to, it’s simply not possible. So, enlist help! Make a list of all the things you want to get done or accomplished and then prioritize and remove items that simply won’t be possible. Once you have your list, divide and conquer! Ask your spouse or partner to help with some of the items on the to do list. And most importantly, know that it is okay if everything isn’t perfect and not everything on your list gets accomplished. Give yourself grace and do the things you can and focus on the beautiful parts of the holidays. Your toddler will love you even more for your presence and being with them in these fun moments rather than focusing on all the things that you didn’t get done.
- Plan in some downtime
You know it’s going to be a busy time of year before it even starts. So be sure to add some downtime to your schedule. Take time to relax and enjoy these special moments with your toddler and young children. We all know that we won’t get this time back so let’s enjoy them as they are happening. Not only will you as parents benefit from the downtime, but your toddler most definitely will as well. Having downtime during the craziness can be one of the most important ways to reduce overwhelm and over-stimulation. It’s okay to take a break and find a quiet place for you and your toddler to spend some time together. These are the special moments they will remember for years to come!
Prepare your little ones for what’s to come.
Just like us adults like to have a plan and know what’s coming, little ones do too! Granted they do not need to know all the details and ins and outs like we as adults do but knowing what they can expect (without over-hyping) can mean the difference between a little bit of anxiety and a full-blown meltdown. Preparing our children for what they can expect for the day or few days ahead will give them a sense of calm knowing they know what’s coming next. By giving our toddlers a high-level look at what their schedule is going to look like (while allowing space for changes and the unexpected – see item 1 above) gives them security in knowing what they should expect next. It goes in synch with the discussion above regarding their routines. Knowing what is coming next gives them a sense of routine and comfort, even if it is something brand new.
We hope these are just a few helpful tips that will allow you and your family to enjoy this wonderful season and time of year! No matter what, it’s the most magical time of year and we can’t wait to hear what wonderful memories and stories you have of your time with your young children.
Have a blessed holiday season,
Team Simply Blessed Kids