Well folks, it’s November! That means it’s time to start thinking about the Holiday Season! Having a toddler in the family is a great reason to make the holiday season extra magical! Seeing the magic of the season through a child’s eyes can bring back wonderful memories of your own childhood. It can also be exhausting and expensive for parents to create that magic. Here are a few tips on how to survive your toddler’s first holiday season.
There will be many parties and events scheduled during the holiday season. Don’t burn yourself and your toddler out by trying to attend all of them. Be selective about the engagements in which you choose to participate. Keep in mind your child won’t remember anything at this young age and doesn’t know what to expect, so don’t put pressure on yourself to uphold unrealistic expectations. I know this is hard! Last year I didn’t want to take babycakes to get her picture with Santa at the mall. I battled a huge case of mommy-guilt for a while there. I ultimately decided to get her photo taken with a family friend, who looks a lot like Santa! In reality, she didn’t know that she was missing anything and my guilt was totally unnecessary.
If you usually travel long distances during the holidays to visit family and friends, consider staying home this year. The changes in schedule, unfamiliar faces and unfamiliar places can add up to a cranky kid. As we all know…if the toddler ain’t happy, then no one is happy! Keep things as low key and on schedule as possible. If you must travel, don’t rush it. Give yourself and your child plenty of down time to decompress and escape from the hustle and bustle. If you can’t get a direct flight, then chose one with a longer layover. You’ll be glad you don’t have the stress of the rush and it will give your child some time to stretch his legs and play in between long bouts of sitting still on a plane. When traveling, always plan for the worst. Keep extra clothes, snacks, formula, diapers and required medicines in your carry on. If you get delayed for a long period of time or your luggage gets lost the crisis will be minimal.
Scale Back on Gifts
We all want our children to be happy. We want to see their smiles of delight on Christmas morning as they open their gifts. In pursuit of this goal, we can often go overboard with gift giving. Keep in mind that a child can only play with so many toys at one time and at this age they will outgrow them quickly. Scale back on the amount of gifts you give. Focus instead on creating experiences that can become family traditions. Chose experiences that don’t cost a lot of money and can be easily created year after year. As they get older your child will appreciate having a tradition that they’ve done every year for as long as they can remember. Take a drive through the neighborhood to see the holiday lights and decorations. Snuggle on the couch and watch your favorite holiday movies together. In my family, the Christmas Eve tradition is to order Chinese food and watch The Muppet Christmas Carol.
Simplicity is Key
This holiday season, make it a point to keep things simple. Slow down and focus on what’s really important, making lasting memories with your child. Don’t go overboard visiting friends and family or hosting elaborate parties. Don’t go overboard with spending money on gifts when the most important things in life are free: love and attention. Your child will get more out of spending time with you creating traditions than they will from the latest gadget or toy. If you focus on the right things, you’ll move past just surviving the holidays with your toddler and into thoroughly enjoying them.