We are having Christmas at home this year. Yay! It’s great to finish working and not have to pack suitcases – when I am already exhausted! The kids are ready for a break too. In fact, they’ve been sleeping in after 7.00am, which is totally unheard of! My husband’s busy travel schedule has finally finished for the holidays. He’s had a busy year and we can finally look forward to having more time together as a family.
It’s been a while since I was feeding babies through the night and changing hundreds of nappies, but I do remember how exhausting it was. It’s taken a few Christmases for us to get it right with kids but I think we may have nailed it this year!
How do you survive Christmas Day with little kids? Here are some things I’ve learned…
Don’t Drink Too Much On Christmas Eve
There is nothing worse than dealing with kids when you’ve got a hangover, but on Christmas Day you probably also have to deal with your in-laws and that takes effort! It’s just not worth the agony of trying to get through the big day with a throbbing headache.
Keep it Simple
Keep the day as stress-free as possible. Forget the strict timetable, the official lunch-time, and the family traditions that you ‘have to do’ and remember that Christmas is really about having a special day with your loved ones.
Don’t try and do too much in one day. Do you need to drive to see everyone? Do you need to have Christmas lunch, drive to the beach and host a BBQ? Can you spread the festivities and family visits over Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year? Lower your expectations, give your kids time to enjoy their new toys and enjoy a glass of wine or two.
Get Your Family to Come to You
If your extended family doesn’t have kids, or they live more than a couple of hours away ask them to come to you for Christmas. They will probably have forgotten how exhausting it is trying to pack everything into the car for the special day, and you really want to avoid a long, sticky journey in the car if you can. It’s stressful enough having to remember all the baby/toddler stuff without having to cram Christmas presents and stocking fillers into the car too.
If the kids wake up at 5.00am yelling ‘SANTA’S BEEN!’ – just go with it. You can try to get them to shut up and go back to sleep, but they won’t and you’ll just start Christmas Day by hating them! Just try and get a nap or a rest in the afternoon, or just accept you’ll be having a very early night! These Christmases are so precious – one day the magic will be gone.
Have a Christmas Breakfast or Brunch (Not Lunch!)
If you have some say over how to spend Christmas Day, forget Christmas lunch and have breakfast or brunch instead. When my boys were little they would wake up so early, brunch felt like lunch anyway! We would give the kids their breakfast at the usual time (7.00am), invite everyone over at 9.30am and then have a Christmas breakfast with plenty of champagne! At lunch, we’d have leftovers. Dinner would be platters and cake.
Don’t Host and Don’t Cook
Give the job to someone else! If your mum is OK with this, you have an amazing sister-in-law who is an amazing cook or your brother is really looking forward to getting out the BBQ make the most of it. Accept that this is their turn to shine and you’ll get your turn another year. If you have a big family just keep it simple with ‘bring a plate’, ask someone else to organise it and tell you what to buy from the supermarket.
Take an Afternoon Nap
If your little ones are having a nap, make sure you rest too. I used to enjoy sneaking off for a lie-down! If you’re not into napping watch a Christmas Movie together and just let yourself doze off…
Make Video Calls Overseas Early
If your family are overseas, set up a video call over breakfast or lunch. That way you won’t be making the kids stay up late to talk or forcing them to chat at bedtime when they are bound to lose the plot. Put the device on the coffee table so that the kids come and go (under supervision!) – they won’t feel under pressure to ‘perform’ and put up a fight. Don’t stress if the call cuts out and you have to call it a day.
Recognise When The Kids Have Had Enough
This is a huge one. It’s easy to forget your little one’s routine on Christmas Day and expect them to put up with being passed around and squeezed all day. At some point, they are going to completely lose it and you’ll have to just put them to bed or give them time out. Don’t feel bad about this! Then you remember, oh yeah I haven’t given them their lunch. Whoops!
Take The Kids For A Walk
Do you have a helpful niece or would your mum like to take your little one off for a walk around the park or in the buggy. It never happened for me, but I’m sure there are family members out there that would love to help! I used to be the one happy to take the kids out to burn off some sugar.