Holiday season is already here. The unofficial shopping season started a while ago, decorative lights have started to appear, and the changing of foliage colors – even in California- brings a comforting beauty as we let go of the fun of warmer and longer days.
With a small child – or children – at home, there are a few things you can do ahead of time to create a wonderful – and child-appropriate – holiday experience.
1. Prioritize! What are the most fun parts of the holidays for YOU? For your spouse? Do you like shopping? Sending greeting cards? Getting presents? Cooking? Decorating? Visiting with family and friends? Church? The answer is different for every family. Be aware of your priorities, and plan accordingly.
Be honest with yourself, and remember, especially if this is your first holiday season with a small child: Things are different now. You may not be able to do everything you looked forward to before you had children. If this makes you said, just remember: It’s only for a few a years. And now you have the opportunity to create new and wonderful and different holiday memories for yourself and your children.
2 Be honest and realistic about your expectations from your distant family. Let’s face it: Small children can be disruptive, and some adults can’t handle the ruckus. Sometimes we think that for THIS holiday, it will be fine. With small children in tow, you cannot expect that.
So expect everyone to behave as badly as you remember, and come up with your strategy of how you are going to make the most of it. Try to minimize opportunity for family – sometimes strangers to your children – to criticize you as a parent. You have the right to make your own mistakes and learn from them, and tell others that they have just to live with it.
3. Create a safety bubble around your young children: They do not have to enjoy all the commotion. They will learn to love it if they have fond memories of it. If they start to fuss – it means that they have had enough. and that it may be time to return to their familiar routine.
4. Get the children involved! For example, gift wrapping – it may not be “store-perfect” wrap, but it can have a beloved child’s hand-print on it! You can make your own wrapping paper with your child (If crafts are a priority, and you love to do that!) by using hand-prints on newspaper in the season’s colors.
5. Make a holiday calendar: Mark the days and what is to happen each day, and then cross off the days as they pass. This helps you to prepare the child for what is going to happen and prepares the child to understand the idea of a time-line.
6. Do not make your schedule too tight. Leave room for changes and relaxation. You can always add things as time goes by, without exceeding the family “stress threshold.”
7. Schedule relaxation for you and your spouse.
8. Plan for the “after-holiday blues.” You will need a rest, but also something exciting. How about a Hawaiian party? You do not have to go Hawaii: Crank up the heating for the evening; decorate with bright yellows, oranges, and greens; serve everything with pineapples; make an appropriate music playlist – and have fun! This can be a multi-generation party: get sunglasses, straw hats, flip-flops, maybe bathing suits or beachwear. Exotic fruit drinks – with or without alcohol. What did i miss? The possibilities are endless!
In the present economic climate, you can avoid the money issue by concentrating on what matters most: Good times spent with people you love.
This should be priority number one!