This is James’ third Christmas, and Noah’s second. Last year I’m afraid I was ill with mastitis in the run-up to Christmas, and couldn’t feel festive at all. I had a breast clinic appointment on Christmas Eve, for goodness sake, and so getting the tree up and partying like a bad’un were at the back of my mind. So this year we need a more structured plan and I’ve listed my 8 tips for surviving Christmas with little kids, while helping them to enjoy it, too!
Get the party started!
I have booked a few interesting events in the run up to Christmas, so that there begins to be a bit of a buzz. James is just figuring out what Christmas is all about, and this is a good time to not make it just about chocolate and presents. When I was growing up I didn’t have Santa at all, but that’s a different story. We have a couple of shows we went to last year that we’re doing again, like the wonderful storytelling of Snow Bear, but also new things like a party at Seven Stories and the Enchanted Christmas we visited last week.
So, a few parties, a few shows, and with the help of nursery and preschool, James is an excited kid.
Not too excited…
With that in mind, I am limiting his chocolate intake already, and certainly calling a halt to biscuits and sweets slyly passed to him when we visit relatives. That’s a dangerous avenue, without Christmas being the reason for fattening my boy up!
Also, who needs a sugar rushed little boy running around? Not me, that’s for sure.
Christmas Eve is fever pitch
James already has trouble sleeping, so Christmas Eve needs to be played carefully. We have a visit to Santa’s Winter Wonderland at the Sage planned for the afternoon, which is something we have done the past two years (a tradition, one might say?) and then we’ll have a lovely easy tea, bath, then pjs and bed. No late night waiting up for Santa, please.
Make the toys up before Christmas Eve.
This, I believe, may be the saviour of many a Christmas Day. Christmas Eve is the last day you want to be making up your child’s new play kitchen. Simply because if you’re in the living room fitting bits of hob together, the last thing you need is an excited kid jumping out of bed and running in to see what they’ll be getting before it’s even constructed.
So, plan this properly. Visit a friend, a relative, or sit in the garage, and make up the big toys before Christmas Eve. Then leave the toys there until the night before Christmas.
You do need to assemble some toys before the big day. There’s nothing more disappointing, especially to a toddler, to discover they’ve managed to pull the wrapping paper off…. a box. Which needs batteries and a screw driver. No, not a Phillips screwdriver, or a flat head, a special Torx screwdriver that needs to be ordered from eBay…
On Christmas morning…
Yes, it is your lie-in day, because you’re off work, but actually it’s not, because you’ve got kids. Get up, put your happy face on, and get down and enjoy the excitement.
Limit the opening of presents. We used to have one to open before church, and the rest after. My friend limits her son to three presents per day, so if you’re waiting for a thank you, you may be waiting a while! Both of these are good ideas if they suit the child, but the main point is: You don’t need to have a big opening frenzy in one session. I have to remind Rob about this one every birthday and Christmas! Let your children look at the gifts, let them decide to play with that one for a few hours, ignoring the pile of unopened presents. That is what the toy is for!
You can always have a second opening session later in the day, or on Boxing Day. Or even the next day… It really doesn’t matter about getting them open. Children can get so overwhelmed with all this new stuff around them. Throw in some visiting relatives and you’ve already got a totally strange situation for most kids. No-one wants an overwhelmed toddler to feel their only outlet is a tantrum, so take it easy.
Even a short walk can make all the difference to emotions and atmospheres. We usually stick the roast in the oven and pop along the coast.
and my final tip for surviving Christmas with little kids…
Enjoy yourself! They’re only little once. People say that all the time but it really is true.