For most of us, there is a build up to the holiday season. There is so much to do on top of all the things we do already. It is easy to feel overwhelmed but I try to think of it as a joyful season that brings lots of happiness as I meet with our family and friends.
Children become very excited, seeing the trees with twinkly lights and decorations. They love looking at the yards with inflatable snowmen, reindeer and other decorations. As they become older, they appreciate the family traditions from the food, lighting of candles, putting out food for Santa or other ways that their family celebrate the season.
But being with and visiting family can be challenging.
Will you be staying with them? Are you worried how your kids will behave? Will they eat Grandma’s food? Will they sleep in a different bed? These are all things to think about and maybe discuss with your relatives. Sometimes we feel judged by family members: Are we holding the baby too much? Are the toddlers too noisy?
I remember when our children were young and we were staying with their grandparents. Grandpa spent ages cooking lemon chicken for them, which was delicious but my children didn’t like it. It was too lemony! He seemed quite upset and I coaxed my kids to eat it most of the food on their plate ( not what you are meant to do)! Looking back, I wish we had discussed more simpler meals for the children. Pasta and cheese would have been a bit hit with the kids and a lot easier for Grandpa.
Routine is much harder when you are away from home. Children do not want to go to bed when everyone else is downstairs having fun. Try and think through strategies for bedtime and remember their ‘lovey ‘, favorite toys/ books and even have a special blanket for them. Do they need a night light? White noise? Sometimes you have to be flexible and go with the flow. Does it matter to you if your kids are up late?
You may choose not to travel to see family or only go for a day so you are home to put the kids to bed. Having children changes the dynamics in your extended family and your relatives may have to come and see you or visits may have to be shorter. Whatever works for you and your family is fine.
However, family connection is really important and it can also be exciting for your child to sleep at a relative’s house. Maybe they can wear their Christmas pajamas and share a room with their sibling or cousin. Try and think through what will make your life a little smoother and that includes travel plans ( when is the best time of day to travel with little ones), snacks, games in the car/ pane to sleeping arrangements and food at your relatives house. Hopefully the holiday season, whatever that means to you and your family, will be joyful.