Worried about your toddler’s schedule among the hustle and bustle of the holiday season?
Fall and winter bring us quite a few changes, which can make it harder to stick to a routine or schedule with our toddlers and preschoolers. Cooler weather means we’re indoors more, which means it can be harder for kids to run around and get their energy out.
Then, there are all the holidays and festivities. The family gatherings and all the parties, some of which involve travelling.
How can we make the most of this season and not drive ourselves and our children crazy?
After all, our kids are only this age once, and we want to enjoy it as much as possible and make sure we don’t miss out on all the fun opportunities to make lasting memories.
Here are 3 key tips that will help make this holiday season easier and more enjoyable for you and your little ones:
Keep it the same
Stick to your regular schedule or routine as much as possible. Keep nap times, meal times, and bedtime as close to their normal times as you can. Kids thrive on predictability and being able to anticipate what comes next in their day. They’re able to be more independent and feel more in control and secure with a routine or schedule. So, even if you’re traveling or have a party to go to, do your best to keep their routine as close to normal as you can.
Give them a head’s up
When there is a schedule change, let your kids know ahead of time (but not too far ahead!). An example would be, “After nap time, instead of going to the park like we normally do, we’re going to have our snack and then go to Aunt Susie’s house. She’s invited everyone over for a family dinner. Doesn’t that sound fun? You’ll get to….”
If you’re travelling and staying somewhere else, tell your children what you expect and why. Point out how things are different, but that the rules from home still apply. For example, when we recently traveled, the stairs didn’t have a handrail for the kids to use. So, we said, “Wow! These stairs are bigger than ours and there’s no handrail for you to use. We need everyone to stay safe, so let’s make it a rule that kids are only allowed on the stairs if they have an adult with them. If Mommy or Daddy isn’t here to help you, you need to wait for us…” Even if your kids are little, give them a head’s up about the changes and the expectations. Our children often understand more than we anticipate they will.
Super tough, I know! But, when we try to do too much, we get stressed out about keeping our time commitments, allowing enough time for travel, possibly throwing off our children’s nap times and other schedules… not fun! And, it’s overwhelming for our kids. Everything is new (or new-ish) for our little ones, so when they’re constantly bombarded with all kinds of different experiences and people, it’s a lot to take in, which can lead to overwhelm and meltdowns.
So, stick to 1-2 events/parties/outings/seasonal “things” each day. Don’t tell your children what you’re doing too far in advance so that you can change plans as needed. I usually tell mine an hour or two beforehand, or maybe the morning of, depending on what it is. This gives me a chance to change our plans if needed (and if we can) and prevents the onslaught of questions from kids who are excited about going somewhere. After all, no one wants to be asked if it’s time to go yet every five minutes.
Have fun this holiday season! Communicate more with your children so that they’re in the loop too and make this time of year as enjoyable as possible for all of you.
If you’re strapped for time (and who isn’t!?), grab a copy of my Time Saving Toddler Mom Hacks. It’s free and includes tips you can use RIGHT NOW.
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