6 Tips To Surviving Family Holidays
A few friends and I were recently talking about how hard the holidays can be when you have small children because so many things are different from their normal routine. Naps can be thrown off. Maybe your toddler doesn’t want to eat the gigantic Thanksgiving spread & solely wants the peanut butter bread that you accidentally forgot at your house over an hour away. Or your baby is fussy from all the noise. and new people. Regardless of the specific circumstances, it can be stressful. Which is why after a few requests from readers & friends, I am sharing my top 6 tips on how to survive family (and friend) holidays.
1. Don’t play pass the baby (unless YOU want to). I remember always being so happy to go to a fun party with friends or a family gathering because people would want to hold my baby daughter & I would get my hands free to sip some champagne or go to the restroom unencumbered etc. So I would happily hand her over to a loving family member. After a bit though, she would start to notice that whoever was holding her was not mama, and she’d start to fuss. Cue the knot in my stomach that would grow because I’d always feel so awkward asking for her back if she started to fuss or cry & look for me. Now with my second baby? I could give a hairy rat’s ass if someone “just got the baby”. If he’s fussing or crying or whatever the case may be, I’m taking him back. It’s not worth him getting over stimulated and crying and what not, he’s my baby and that’s just that. So a few ways to handle this: A) wear your baby with a carrier and this is pretty much solved; or B) brush any and all comments off of “she’s not that upset”, “she’s fine, I’m a mom too, I know what I’m doing” or “I’ve got her, you go have fun and relax”. If you want your baby back, then just say a firm “thank you so much but I’ve got this”. Now, I added the parentheses at the top because with my second baby I really do welcome the extra hands helping, but again, if he starts crying you can bet I’ll be taking him back to calm him down.
2) Prepare like you are backpacking in the wilderness for a week. This might sound crazy but I would so rather be over prepared than under prepared. For my toddler this means I will be bringing a portable high chair, a sippy cup of water, some juice, a fruit and veggie pouch, peanut butter sandwich, fruit, string cheese and a yogurt. Why? Because she’s a toddler and this means I have NO idea what she will want to eat that day, so I will have all options ready. Plus this sets me up for snacks on the ride there and back. For my baby this means I’m bringing his baby food feeder, baby food, breastfeeding blankie, diapers, wipes, bib and change of clothes. It’ll be worth it. I promise.
3. Try to maintain a schedule as close to your daily routine as possible. We’ve all heard the comments of “It’s Thanksgiving, they can skip a nap” or “We only see you guys a few times a year, can’t they stay up late?”. No. No they can’t, and thanks for your opinion that is literally decades from when you had young children. So as you can see, this is a sore subject for me. It just is frustrating because it’s like “Look, I’m not putting them down for a nap because Mama needs a spa day (which I desperately do), I’m doing it because otherwise it’s going to escalate into a huuuuuuge showdown of whining, crying, fussing exhausted kids who just need a nap. Or their normal bed time.” It’s all fun and games until the poor parents are the ones dealing with this aftermath of pushing the kids’ limits. Just do what YOU feel comfortable with.
4. Go outside. This might seem like a weird tip but I have my reasons for suggesting this. There have been quite a few times where my toddler is overwhelmed from all the laughing and talking and sneaking treats that I can glance down at her and just see that she’s all riled up, or tired or maybe having a tantrum and if I just take her outside for a bit she can reboot. I don’t know if it’s the fresh air, or just walking around and taking a break from all the noise, but it really does help. Same goes for my baby. Sometimes just a change of scenery really does help.
5. Keep an eye out. This sounds silly and paranoid, but it’s good to remember as it’s so easy to get swept up in catching up with family and friends. So some examples of what I mean by keeping an eye out are: watch your toddler try to sneak her 3rd brownie; take a glance to make sure your baby isn’t grabbing a spoon off the nicely set table to shove into his mouth, keep an eye out for a well meaningful friend or family member who wants to offer your child some sweets or juice or food that you don’t want to introduce yet. Which brings me to my next tip…
6) Don’t let people feed your baby unless YOU ask them to (and that you know what they’re feeding him/her). My daughter never had an allergic reaction to food that we gave her. She could eat anything and be just fine. Something we took for granted, as my son has had allergic reactions FOUR different times to a new food we have introduced. There have been a few times where a friend or family member have asked to offer my baby some food and we have had to explain that we haven’t introduced that food yet, or that I want to breastfeed him before giving him his meal of solids. One time my husband and I even got scolded that we should just allow a friend to feed our 5 month old son cake, as the friend herself was a mother and thus knew what she was doing. Just, again, do what YOU feel comfortable with.
And at the end of they day, have fun. Enjoy yourself. Yes, it can sometimes be stressful with travel, and interrupting schedules and trying to fit in naps and what not. But at the end of the day, it is nice to look around at a table full of family and friends and to just be thankful. You’ve got this Mama.