As I'm writing this I'm marveling at the fact that we're already at week 3 of my September Christmas series! Which has me realizing…less than three weeks from now is the expected due date of our second sweet baby! Meaning – I will have 2 kids to keep on track this Christmas. 2 kids with different routines, nap times, etc. It's bringing me up to some tips and advice for keeping your kids' routine somewhat normal over the holiday season.
Week 1 – Adorable Christmas Treats
Week 2 – Christmas Mess
Special Post – DIY Christmas Gifts
Routine is super important with babies and children. While older kids can handle it a little better, all little ones need structure in their lives. It doesn't take long to notice when your children have been out of sorts for a few days. They become grumpy, non-compliant, tired, and easily irritable.
Last year was our first holiday season with Sweet Girl. Before she was born I had decided I wanted to try sleep training via The Baby Whisperer method – highly recommend. I'll explain in a future post, but we had her sleeping through the night after 5 days of trying this at 2+ weeks old. Because of our structured routine, Christmas was slightly nerve-inducing for me. I wasn't uptight about it, but I knew I wanted to keep some semblance of normal in her little 8-month-old life to avoid a set back.
Since we were paranoid first time parents, we implemented a few strategies to help keep her on routine. And, lucky for you, I'm here to share them!
Plan Your Events
Part of the beauty of any routine is knowing, more or less, what your day is going to look like. Kids or not, I've always been the type of person to need a plan and be able to foresee what events or situations I might be involved in. I may have mentioned that our Christmas season is quite busy. Because of this, I like to have everything written out on the calendar so we can know where we need to be, what gifts need to be in the vehicle, any dishes I need to prepare, and, now with kids, what contraptions we need to haul along.
Plan Around Your Routine
Once I know what parties we will be attending, what time of day they are, and what we need to take along, I start working everything around the kids' routine. I consider the following:
- Will it interfere with nap times?
- If so, how can we arrange it so that she still gets at least some sort of rest. This might mean an earlier morning, shorter nap, quick nap in the van, or a sleep at the host's home.
- Will we be travelling over a meal or snack?
- Our travelling is very limited during the season, but if we do end up in the vehicle during eating times, I'll make sure I pack some easy to eat snacks to get us from point A to B, or we might leave a little earlier or later than planned.
- Will we be out past bed time?
- Since Sweet Girl is in bed by 7:30, this is pretty much a given. We usually plan to bathe her wherever we are and take along a play pen or little bassinet or put her in a bed at the party. While it's not ideal, and she will likely be up past bedtime, it's better than keeping her up 'til we're ready to go home.
Then, I start my list of all the things we need to haul, pack up the bags and load the van. Yes, it seems like a lot of planning, but it is so totally worth it to keep her in a bit of routine.
Expect the Unexpected
While all that planning may come off as super anal, I promise you we do indulge in flexibility if it arises. However, we do not just up and leave, willy-nilly like. I have a plan for that, too!
What I do to make it easy for us to leave on short notice:
- Keep the diaper bag stocked with essentials and neatly organized
- Panties, wipes, wet bag, a couple diapers, a blanket, possibly a change of clothes
- Try to remember what is and isn't in it so I can quickly grab what I need if we want to go out
- Ditto for my purse
- Have the potty and accessories at the ready
- Right now we have a third potty that stays in the van full time. Along with it, we keep wipes, sanitizing cloths, toilet paper, and a garbage box. I know if we have to head out that the potty is one less thing to grab.
- Keep necessary items in the vehicle
- I like to have some extra diapers, panties, wipes, bibs, a blanket, change of clothes in the van ready and waiting in case I've forgotten something or we're out longer than expected.
- This goes for things like a travel high chair, play pen, a few toys and baby items, as well.
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Realize Things Won't Go As Planned
The biggest tip I can give you is to prepare yourself for the fact that your kids will miss a nap, eat supper at a different time, and be up past their bed times. Unless you're super diligent (and un-fun), you'll have to compromise on routine for a few days over the course of a year. It's a lot less stressful and nerve-wracking if you just let it go and enjoy your time.
Trust me when I tell you this as someone who thought my world would go to hell in a hand-basket: it's okay. The kids will not revert to being barbarian monsters, the sky will not fall, you will not put them up for adoption. If you keep up with their routine at home and as much as possible on outing days, the entire season will be enjoyable and FUN for everyone!
You're going to get a lot of advice from your parents, aunts, grandparents, etc. about letting your kids be. Try your best to ignore them and do what you think is right. Obviously kids need sleep, play time, love and food. As long as you give them those 4 things throughout their modified routine, they will be happy and compliant. And so will you.
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