A Guide to Surviving the Holidays With Young Children
Updated: Oct 8
Wondering how the holidays will work with a baby or toddler? Whether you are a first-time mom or have been doing this for a while, I want to share with you from personal experience 5 tips to make the holidays a little less stressful.
SLEEP! Of course, I am going to talk about sleep as it is what I love! It is very important that you try your best to keep your baby or toddler on a sleep schedule/routine so that they will be ready for all the fun things you have planned during the holidays. Commit to getting your little ones to bed on time and keeping naps in place. If you need to plan around a special dinner, lunch or activity, in order for your baby or toddler to get a nap, do it! Everyone will be happier in the end. I would rather have a later lunch than a tired and cranky baby. Speak up if you need to ask everyone if they could work around your child’s nap or bedtime…within reason. If you are going away for the holidays, just remember to bring along everything that they need for the most successful sleeping situation (pack-n-play, swaddle or sleepsack, sound machine, and lovey if they are old enough.) You can also plan to travel when they are supposed to take a nap to ensure that they get some rest during the day.
DON’T TOUCH! I am perfectly ok with keeping your baby in the car seat or stroller covered up with a blanket when you are out and about or even wearing them in order for people not to touch them. Let’s be honest, people are dirty...lol. People also don’t have boundaries and don’t think about germs. Although it is a sweet harmless gesture to want to touch your baby, it is acceptable to ask them not to without apologies. If you are with friends and families, make sure you carry hand sanitizer and ask them to use it before touching your baby. The last thing you want is a sick child during the holidays.
LIMIT ACTIVITIES. Sometimes less is more especially when it might be overstimulating for a baby or a toddler. I just texted my 18-year-old daughter last night telling her that I wanted to make these really cool hot chocolate bombs to give to our friends. She responded saying that it sounded like a fun idea but realistically we would probably be too busy to actually make them. I will be honest that it made me a little sad that she responded in a truthful manner and now I am determined to slow down a little and really enjoy this season. I’m giving you permission to say no. Focus on a few things that are very meaningful to you and your family and do them. Sometimes babies and toddlers can get overstimulated with all the activity that it turns into more of a stressful situation rather than a fun one. Take a drive or walk and look at Christmas lights, make a simple craft, or bake cookies. If you set your expectations high to do everything that your friends are doing on Instagram, you might be disappointed with overstimulated babies or toddlers (and let’s be honest...yourself!) Speaking of expectations...
TRADITIONS. I know the feeling of wanting to recreate your childhood traditions or to even start new ones. Oftentimes, I feel like with Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest, we struggle with trying to keep up with everything that everyone is doing and find ourselves comparing ourselves to that “perfect” family. I’m so glad that Elf on the Shelf wasn’t really a big deal when my kids were little (our poor elf got burned by the lightbulb...oopsies) because that is a whole thing in itsELF. Talk about stress during the holidays! Trying to plan a new activity for that elf every night such as having a miniature marshmallow fight or the elf hanging on the mixers of a mixing bowl licking the cake batter, can be fun for some but also can be stressful for others. I googled “Elf on the Shelf ideas'' and an article popped up that said “101 Creative Elf on the Shelf Ideas for 2021.” What?!?! I will admit that one of my favorites was the Elf taking his “reindeer” (Cars characters made into reindeers with pipe cleaners as antlers) on a sleigh ride. Anyway, I tell you this story to remind you to give yourself some grace and maybe pick a few traditions that you want to start for your own family without feeling like you have to go overboard! And more power to you to those that are Elf on the Shelf enthusiasts. Personally, my favorite traditions are getting our family matching PJ’s and opening them up on Christmas Eve, walking to look at Christmas lights, and picking out a Christmas tree. However, with this particular activity of picking out trees, as my kids got older, I actually became very frustrated with everyone because I cared about picking out a tree more than they did. I would get upset and then our fun tradition became not so fun for anyone. So now, my husband goes with me and I can take all the time in the world and he is very patient as I try to find the perfect tree (which is usually the first one we picked out about 30 minutes prior). HA! To be honest, it makes me a tiny bit sad but I am way less frustrated and I’m glad that isn’t a tradition anymore. It is ok to switch things up if a tradition isn’t working for the family. Remember, these are YOUR traditions. Speaking of trees, just because your family grew up picking out Douglas firs and your spouse's family grew up picking out Noble firs or real vs fake trees, YOU get to do whatever you want with your family! Can anyone relate?
HOST WITHOUT HOSTING. What?!?! You heard me right. I know some of you love to host parties at your house and you can still do that without having all the stress of doing everything that goes along with hosting. Offer to have a holiday celebration at your house without feeling like you have to do everything (especially if you have a newborn). Ask people to bring all the food and you provide the home. This can be stressful for some people, but having to lug all that baby gear, special toys, pack-n-play, etc somewhere else can be even more stressful. That way, when it is time for a nap or bed, you have everything already in place. If you are a nursing mama, you can excuse yourself and take an extra long session in order to relax and regroup if needed. Get on the same page with your spouse/partner and if needed, he can wrap up the party if it is going on too long. Side note on relatives. This is referring to toddler-age and above. I just saw a really amazing Instagram post from @transformingtoddlerhood. They write about respecting body boundaries (Holiday Edition). They state to avoid making your child physically greet a family member. “Give Uncle Larry a hug and a kiss. He came all this way to see you.” Instead, try allowing your child to be in control of how they greet people. “Uncle Larry is here! How do you want to say hello?” Here’s why: forcing a child to greet a family member in a specific way doesn’t leave room for the child to be in charge of their bodies. Children need to be able to choose how they physically interact with others based on their emotions, needs, and intuition. We tend to cross a child's body boundaries when we are attached to a specific outcome or trying to uphold social norms over attuning to the child and their needs in the moment. If they don’t know what to do we can ask if they would like to say hi or give high five. While I do think it is ok for them not to give a hug, it is important to teach them to be polite and say “hello.”
Back to HOSTING...a final tip. Have a special friend or relative be in charge of cleaning up and rallying everyone else to help as you put your little one to bed. By doing this, you can keep your bedtime routine without missing a beat and you can get out of doing the dishes. Wink Wink!
I hope these 5 Holiday Tips: SLEEP, DON’T TOUCH, LIMIT ACTIVITIES, TRADITIONS & HOST WITHOUT HOSTING will make your time with your little ones less stressful and that you will enjoy your family even more during this beautiful season. As always, there is no time like the present to reach out if you are having sleep issues with your baby or toddler. I would love to help your baby sleep so that you can too!
Feel free to schedule a 15 minute discovery call so you can get your sleep back soon! Discovery Call