So, the holidays are upon us. If you are like me, you are excited, but also terrified of the challenges that come along with all the holiday festivities. I have three kids, so we tend to be VERY busy during the holidays. Holiday time for my family means a lot of time in the car, late nights out, many kisses and maybe too much advice from well intentioned family. Here is my advice, for what it is worth, on getting through the holiday craziness with your little ones.
First, set your boundaries. I am a stickler on naps and bedtime. They keep me sane. My family knows this about me, so they were already very accomodating. However, I have had to set up my boundaries ahead of time. This includes letting family know when we will show up and when we will leave. This sets up the expectation ahead of time so when we say it is time to go, our family already knows we were going to head out early. Also, boundaries can include a number of other things. One of our boundaries is that we stay home all Christmas Day. If you want to see the kids on Christmas, you must come to us, no exceptions.
Next, prepare your kids. I have a baby and two older children. Before we get anywhere we usually have a pep talk with the older ones. First, and foremost, what is expected regarding behavior. Next, we talk about our boundaries we already set. I like them to know when we are leaving the festivities so that when I let them know about the five minute warning, it isn’t a shock. Lastly, we like to talk about personal space. We do not make our kids give hugs and kisses. Their body, their choice. We let them decide if they want to be touched by our family and how to assert themselves in these situations. Lastly, make sure to dress them appropriately for play. One year I had my kids in the most ridiculously fancy and extravagant outfits. They were miserable and hot. Now, I dress them in comfortable, but festive, clothes.
Next, prepare in advance. I usually pack the car the night before. It seems like getting three kids (and let’s be honest, my husband too) ready and out the door on time is an accomplishment of epic proportions. Because of this, things usually get left at home. I like to pack everything we need the night before, so the day of is calm (or calmer). I usually have the diaper bag packed, the kids’ clothes laid out, snacks and shoes ready to go, and presents already in the car. Basically anything you can do in advance reduces the stress the day of.
Lastly, relax! It is the holidays, so let a few things go. If we get to bed a little later, it is ok. So my kids ate way too much candy, oh well. There is a time and a place for everything, and the holidays are a time when we can sit back and try to roll with what comes our way. Have fun, mama, and pour yourself an extra glass of wine. You deserve it!