Holidays are so much fun. We get to relax, spend time with family, and do things we don't normally do. Holidays can be stressful too. We all know that as adults. We need to get presents for people, clean, cook, and create magic for our kids. What is easy to forget is that holidays can be stressful to our kids. They might not realize they are feeling stressed, but it will show in their behavior. Because of this I really try to focus on what I see as some of the most important aspects of Babywise, even during the holiday season.
Oh my, sleep can be hard for kids when they are excited. Plus when our schedules are hectic and we are trying to get a lot done it is easy to mistake excitement for not needing to rest. This sadly isn't usually the case with kids. I still insist on consistent naps, even on Christmas Day. Just because it is a special day it does not mean my toddler suddenly has different sleep needs. If anything with all the happenings and excitement he needs his naps more. I know this can be hard for scheduling meals and family time, but it is worth it. Not only does it give my son a chance to recharge and be ready to play and enjoy the day with a positive attitude, it gives my husband and me a chance to take a moment for ourselves. We can breathe, enjoy each other, and just pause to reflect on the day. Oh sure, nap might be shorter, or the time shifted, but it still takes place. Bed time might be pushed back a little too, but I don't let it get too far back. After a long day of gifts, family, and fun food, kids are tired. I know when we have family over that we don't see often it is hard to put the kids to bed and end the fun, but the fun ends quickly with an overtired child. Sleep is one of the biggest things that help my son have good behavior, and I make sure he gets the sleep he needs.
We all know on holidays it is time to indulge. That is great as adults. We know we get to eat foods we don't eat throughout the year. They are often richer, sweeter, and more decadent than we usually have. This can be hard on tiny tummies though. While I am working to encourage Ben to at least try new foods on his plate and eat what the grown ups eat, holidays aren't really a time to force this in my mind. Oh, I give him bits of everything and let him try whatever he wants. But I don't force it. I try to make sure he has something familiar to eat. In the mornings I still give him a smoothie to start his day off right. I make sure to at least pack a pouch so he has something he likes that is full of nutrients to fuel him up. I try to make sure there are a few foods that he likes, and aren't too heavy for him. To me, the most important thing is to sit at the table and enjoy time with family. I don't really care what he is eating. We also tend to have our big meal around . This is not a time Ben is used to eating. I try to respect that his little tummy can't adjust to different meal times as easily as we adults can. I keep an eye on the clock and offer healthy snacks at times he is used to eating. I think these two points are the key- having some familiar foods and offering them at familiar times. After that I try not to worry too much. It is one day. If Grandpa slips him an extra cookie, I try to look the other way. I know that is part of the fun of the day.
3) Independent playtime.
This is one I tend to play by ear. Most family recognize the need for naps in little kids, but taking them away from the fun to just hang out by themselves? That can be a hard one to sell. The thing is, Ben is used to having that time out of his day to just relax, mentally recharge, and spend some time alone. He is able to skip it when we need to, and then he jumps right back into it. If he seems like he is having fun and is relaxed, we let it go on the holidays. But let's think about Christmas from a 2 year old's perspective. You are super pumped up for presents. You have all sorts of new toys. You get to eat foods you don't usually get to (usually laced with sugar). And you have the eyes and attention of a ton of family on you. That can get to you! Heck, as an adult holiday gatherings can be emotionally tiring! I try to keep an eye on Ben and see if he needs a little bit of time to relax and get out of the spotlight for a bit. I don't really pay attention to the clock for this, I go solely by Ben's cues. The time period for this play time is usually shorter than the normal hour and fifteen minutes he does. On Thanksgiving we still had Ben do an independent play time. He was getting worked up and I think over stimulated by the excitement. So we had him go into independent playtime. It was only for about 30 minutes, and he ended up taking a little power nap. But you know what? He came out recharged and ready to go. It also helped him when nap time was a little shorter due to noise in the afternoon. Like I said, this isn't about practicing playing alone. It's about giving Ben a chance to unwind and have some time to himself. Sometimes Pat or I sit with him during these times, other times we leave him be. I have found again that the benefits to his behavior and demeanor are worth and complaints or strange looks from family.