You’ve been excited about the holidays as you likely can’t wait to share them with your little one. Christmas has been fun for years, but it’s wonderful again when you get to watch your little one play with new toys – or just the boxes they came in. The gifts, the treats, the holiday mood are all infectious when you have someone little to share it with, yet you want to be sure you don’t over-do it as young children are still easily overwhelmed.
Children thrive on routines and keeping the same routine and schedule as much as possible during the holidays will help everyone enjoy it that much more. If your little one is used to bed before eight in the evening, keep bedtime the same, even if she’ll have to miss a special holiday program. Pick and choose your evening events carefully to try and keep her well rested so that she can enjoy what she does during the day.
Try not to skip naps to do a bit of extra shopping, but you might allow your little one to fall asleep in the car between stops. If this happens, pull into a parking lot with the heater running, pull out a book or magazine and let her sleep for a bit. You probably needed the break, too.
Many parents are disappointed at their child’s first Christmas when the child isn’t
willing to play along with the rituals and routines that normally go with the holiday. For example, an eight-month-old might be much more interested in the shiny balls on the tree than in a present that’s just sitting there. She can’t open it and will get bored with it sooner than you’d probably like, especially if it’s from Great Aunt Myrtle who’s watching her lack of enthusiasm with great interest. A handful of age appropriate presents are fine, and stock up on fun bows and boxes as those are often the best presents of all for the little ones.
Just as the old western expression states, stick to your guns about your plans for the holiday. Just as it’s not a great idea to go traipsing about the country with a young baby to meet everyone’s holiday’s expectations, it’s not a great idea for baby to be with stressed and exhausted parents either.
Make a decision in advance about how you will handle the family and holidays and make the decision a non-negotiable decision you share with others. For example, you might determine that one family can enjoy your company on Thanksgiving and the other on New Years, but Christmas day will be spent at home – every year. Of course, all grandparents, aunts and uncles are welcome to join you around the tree Christmas morning. (Don’t be surprised if they do – everyone loves to watch little ones open Christmas presents.)
Traditions work best when started as early as possible. Just like you’re setting up a precedent to stay home on every Christmas morning, you can also make it routine to see Santa Claus on a certain day, send out a certain kind of holiday card, visit a certain store for hot chocolate and goodies, sing certain carols, read certain books and any other tradition that is meaningful and fun for your entire family.
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