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This is a guest post from Rachel Newcomb, who blogs at Smart Mom Smart Ideas, where she writes about home organization, time management, parenting, motherhood, and work/life balance. You will find many articles to help you have an organized home, balanced family and focused life. She enjoys reading, writing, and spending time with family.
Surviving Christmas with Little Ones (and Keeping Your Sanity)
Christmas is about Jesus. It’s the time of year when we take time out to celebrate the birth of Jesus and how He changes us. Little ones get especially excited about Christmas. They love the lights, the nativity, the presents, and all the new experiences that come at Christmas time.
But as a parent, you know it’s hard to keep your sanity at Christmas with little ones – if you don’t have a great plan.
I remember one Christmas when my daughter was about 2 years old, she got overwhelmed with all the Christmas activities and lack of schedule. I guess she just had too much fun. Because on Christmas day about 2:00 pm with all the activities happening around her, she just laid down in the middle of the floor and fell asleep with friends and family walking and talking all around.
That’s life with a toddler – once they’re tired, they are ready for sleep. If you are lucky they fall asleep fast. If not….. well that’s another story, right?
Christmas activities, parties and schedules can leave even the most active toddlers and preschoolers feeling out of sorts. But, even if your schedule gets busy at Christmas you can enjoy the Christmas season and keep your sanity.
Try this 5 step plan to keep your Christmas Calm.
Understand The Importance of Keeping Routines
When my kids were little, I quickly learned the importance of routines in our daily life. I had a feeding schedule (that I maintained perfectly), a nap schedule, an evening routine and more. When my kids were little, my routines helped keep my days and nights sane.
I also came to realize the importance of these routines for my kids, too. They needed to know (even if they could not tell time) when it was bedtime and when it was nap time. They would know when it was time for bed by the routine (taking a bath, reading a story, rocking chair time).
During the Christmas season, it’s easy to let our schedules and routines relax. If we skip our routines too often, we will start to notice your little ones start to get cranky, fussy and tired. They need the stability and security of their routines.
I know it’s not always easy to perfectly keep all your routines during Christmas, but you can consider how to fit activities and events into your schedule in a way that you can stay close to your routines. Trust me you’ll be glad you did.
It’s so easy to want to say “yes” to every invitation and invite you receive during the Christmas season. Family will invite you to special once a year gatherings. Friends will have Christmas parties and even your kids will probably be invited to a few Christmas parties, too.
Let’s not forget to plan time for all the favorite Christmas activities. Pictures with Santa, ice skating, shopping for gifts, baking cookies and cakes, decorating the Christmas tree, driving around looking at Christmas lights and family traditions.
Before you know it, your planner for the month of December will be filled with too many activities and events to attend. Look at your planner before you accept invitations, check your schedule and make sure you haven’t already planned a full day.
Remember, little ones need time to rest after a big day of fun. If you plan a full day on Saturday, allow plenty of time for rest on Sunday.
Recognize the Limits of Toddlers and Preschoolers
Toddlers and preschoolers seem like they have endless amounts of energy. The run and laugh and giggle like the energizer bunny! Some nights it seems impossible to get them to bed right?
But, even these super active little people have limits. Even the batteries in the energizer bunny have to be recharged some days.
When toddlers and preschoolers reach their limit, then you have meltdowns. A meltdown is no way to enjoy the Christmas season.
Yes, we want our children to enjoy Christmas, but accept they will run down and get tired. Everyone will enjoy Christmas with well-rested and happy kids.
Before the Christmas season starts, decide how many activities your kids can handle in a day or in a weekend. As the season starts, watch for signs of fatigue and needing extra rest.
Christmas parties, Christmas treats, Christmas candies. At Christmas, the sugar treats are everywhere.
I have noticed sugar can have a negative impact on kids. It excites them. Sugar can cause them to be overactive and unfocused. My youngest child even talks fast and acts totally silly when she has too much sugar.
It will be nearly impossible to say “no” to every sugar treat during Christmas. But you can set limits. Set limits before you attend a party what kind of desserts are okay and the amount. Maybe you could set a guideline that desserts and treats are only on the weekends or once a week.
It won’t be easy with all delicious Christmas treats, but it’s worth it to avoid the sugar highs and lows.
Know When to Say “No”
It may sound odd, but I recommend a Christmas “to-don’t” list. (You’re probably thinking a Christmas “to-don’t” list? What’s that?)
At Christmas time we have so many opportunities with parties, visiting relatives, family and friends visiting us, special activities, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and miss the true meaning of Christmas.
The true meaning of Christmas is not commercialization and spending $100’s or $1,000’s on gifts (and being in Christmas debt till July), but focusing on Jesus and the true gift He brings us Christmas.
When you look at your busy Christmas schedule and you feel overwhelmed (and you know your little ones will be too), think about which activities will celebrate Jesus and the true meaning of Christmas. Focus on these activities. You might find your “to-do” list shorter and your “to-don’t” list much longer.
Christmases with your little ones are special. These holidays are times of discovery and “firsts”. Take lots of pictures and create many special memories.
Enjoying the Christmas season is possible and you can keep your sanity too by keeping your routines, not over-scheduling, recognizing your kids have limits (or setting limits), limiting sugar and realizing when it’s time to say “no”.
The easiest way to keep the Christmas season stress-free is to take a few preventative steps to be sure you never lose your sanity!