Do you want to have a peaceful holiday season? Are you already stressed out about the holidays? Do you know anyone who has all their gifts bought and wrapped right after Cyber Monday? Can you relate to those people who are completely decorated for Christmas or Hanukkah after the Thanksgiving dishes are cleaned up? Or those people that have taken their Christmas pictures and have sent them out by December 1st? If this is you…awesome! If it isn’t you, then I can totally relate. Instead of comparing yourself to what other families are doing, I suggest that you do what works for you. I give you permission to relax and enjoy the holidays and make them your own. 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 a peaceful holiday.
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 keep 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 or earlier dinner 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 your child might need for the most successful sleeping situation (SlumberPod, pack-n-play, swaddle or sleep sack, 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. A caveat for keeping your baby on a schedule or routine…be flexible. If you do have a child that is sleep trained, you have a lot more flexibility knowing that one or two nights here and there during the holidays will not mess up what you have worked so hard to achieve. While you do have to accommodate your little ones at times, it is important to know that you can deviate from a nap or extend a bedtime until later if you have a fun activity going on. If you have to modify the bedtime routine, that is ok too. Maybe they don’t have a bath that night because you are visiting grandma. Instead, you can give them a quick wipe-down and put them in their pajamas before hitting the road. Hopefully, they can transfer easily when you arrive home.
Obviously, this is for newborns. Keeping your baby in the car seat or stroller covered with a blanket when you are out is perfectly ok. You can even consider wearing them in order for people not to touch them. I’ve even seen signs that people put on their baby’s car seat that says “STOP. Look but please DON’T TOUCH. Thank you very much.” Let’s be honest, people are dirty…lol. People also don’t have boundaries and don’t think about germs especially if they don’t have a newborn or they have older children and have forgotten. 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 family, make sure you carry hand sanitizer and ask them to use it before touching your baby. Don’t feel obligated to allow people to hold your baby. Some babies or toddlers can get overwhelmed by many people wanting to hold or touch them so it is ok to act on their behalf to decline kindly. The last thing you want is a sick child during the holidays. You will be the one caring for them.
Sometimes less is more especially when it might be overstimulating for a baby or a toddler. There are so many fun things to do during this holiday season. It is easy to get caught up in doing everything. However, this can oftentimes lead to unnecessary meltdowns. 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. Focus on a few things that are very meaningful to you and your family and do them. 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…
I know the feeling of wanting to recreate your childhood traditions or to even start new ones. Oftentimes, I feel like, with Instagram, Tiktok, 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” 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 is Elf on the Shelf enthusiasts. Personally, my favorite traditions are getting our family matching PJs 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–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? In fact, I told my husband that I think it’s time to purchase a fake tree this year. We’ll see…
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 or even friends. 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 body. 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 at the moment. If they don’t know what to do we can ask if they would like to say hi or give a 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 get out of doing the dishes. Wink Wink!
I hope these 5 Holiday Tips: SLEEP, DON’T TOUCH, LIMIT ACTIVITIES, TRADITIONS, and HOST WITHOUT HOSTING will make your time with your little ones less stressful and more peaceful 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: https://sleepcafeschedule.as.me