As we prepare for this festive and exciting Holiday season I can’t help but reflect and consider our kids this time of year.
The Holidays are full of fun and exciting parties, presents, lights, décor, music, a house full of people, and lots and lots of noise! These gatherings are full of festive feelings and bring us so much joy, but they can also be very overwhelming and challenging for our little ones.
So here are a few friendly reminders when hosting, visiting, and caring for our kids this holiday season.
- Extended family and friends who we see during the Holidays can feel like strangers to our young kids. We are excited for them to see our kids, and of course they are too. But our kids… they don’t know who that person is. They don’t want to sit on their laps, or pose for pictures because they don’t know to trust them yet. If you are visiting a young child you don’t see often, give them some space, and please don’t be offended if they don’t wish to come to you. If you are a parent of a young one who does get shy- speak for them! Share with family and friends that your little one gets nervous or shy, that they do better from a bit of a distance.
- We can all become a bit overstimulated this time of year, and our kids are no different. If your young one is acting out of the norm, consider that the environment may be too much for them. Offer them some space from the buzz and noise around- maybe a quick walk outside or a break in a separate room. Some gatherings go late, and maybe it’s time to call it a bit early. Just like we get frustrated in line at the overcrowded store this time of year, our kids get frustrated in busy rooms with lots of people and noise.
- Santa comes with so many wonderful gifts and then of course so do aunts and uncles, grandparents, and family! This alone can feel overwhelming and we get frustrated when our kids don’t show proper gratitude. Consider this time of year asking that family limit their gifting, or spreading the gifts out in a way that it isn’t one box after another. Encouraging gifts that are experiences rather than toys can limit the amount of “uncared for things” left behind in the wake of the Holidays. Even consider a post-Holiday toy clean out – get your older kids involved in making piles for things they wish to donate to other kids.
- Parties can often be distracting and our kids find ways of getting into mischief when left unattended. Young ones love to play with fragile decorations on low sitting tables, grab for wine glasses and coffee cups, and of course- the Christmas tree is just too tempting! Plan ahead and create fun age appropriate activities and crafts that your kids can work on while the adults are busy preparing meals and cleaning up. Themed scavenger hunts can be exciting for everyone, ginger bread house kits are always a hit and easy to find at your local stores. Pinterest is overflowing with toddler and baby sensory activities I plan I trying for Patrick this year!
Above all let us remember that our kids are just small people. If we can get overwhelmed, frustrated and tired this season… so can they! Keeping this in mind can help to avoid any unpleasant holiday fuss! And if Aunt Sally won’t stop pinching your baby’s cheeks, don’t be afraid to tell her to stop. There are plenty of nice ways to phrase it, but our job as parents and care givers is to protect our children’s boundaries when they cannot.
Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah!