When we think about it, it makes sense: From an exciting morning opening presents from Santa, to gathering with family and friends, and potentially traveling to multiple places our kids, who really prefer the rhythm and routine of a standard day can wind up feeling overwhelmed and all it takes is their cousin to touch their new toy truck and its game over!
The key to a smoother Christmas with toddlers and kids may be as simple of lowering OUR expectations.
Read on for my top five tips for bringing more peace and joy to your home at Christmas.
So often we forget that change and new environments can be hard for our kids. The more we prepare our kids about the day – the better they go. This is because kids prefer rhythm and routine, they go better when they know what to expect. We can prepare them by talking though what will happen on Christmas day, who will be there, what food they can expect. Even showing them photos of relatives and talking though details with them visually can help
We all want to be a great parent, but if our expectations about ourselves or our kids isn’t flexible on special days it can add too much pressure. You may have very clear rules around sugar, or screens but Christmas might be a day to let some of the rules slide. You can always ‘right the ship’ tomorrow!
Your child desperately wants to be a good kid! But on huge days when they are already overstimulated you might need to give them some grace. Model the ‘thank you’ when they can’t find the words, and don’t worry so much about family judging your child’s manners, the longer-term picture is your child knows you are on their side even when they are struggling and this will help to build all of these qualities long term.
Say yes to offers to help take the baby so you can eat and don’t feel guilty. Most family and friends are so happy to help as they too have known the challenge of juggling small kids on these days. Thinking ahead as to who might be able to help you on busy days with the kids (especially if you have a role preparing any part of the meal) can really lighten the load too.
We so want Christmas be beautiful and fun, but we must expect that - what goes up, must come down. So, the elation of the much-wanted toy, can in a split-second change to tragedy when a toddler can’t master it how they want - and meltdowns and big emotions will follow.
Maybe if we decide that Christmas day doesn’t need to be ‘perfect’ and we embrace the messy real, raw big feelings of our toddlers we will have a better day too?
Some of the most beautiful moments of stillness, connection and closeness can follow a moment where our child ‘loses it’ or perfect plans just don’t work out. When we can laugh at the unpredictability of life with young kids and delight in the joy and privilege of being our child’s their number one safe person on a big day like Christmas Day. It’s about finding the small moments of joy amongst the work and really letting them sink in.
Wishing you a beautiful Christmas and see you in 2024 with so many exiting things to come.
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