Juggling the Holidays with Children

Can you believe it’s that time of year again? Have you started planning out how you’re going to manage your holidays? Or maybe you’ve already started Christmas shopping?! I’m not quite there yet but I’m certainly thinking about it. 

I love the holidays and it’s so much more magical with kids now. Seeing everything through their eyes… watching how excited they get when you drive by a house with Christmas lights on...witnessing their reaction to meeting Santa Claus. It’s all so wonderful. However, the holiday season can certainly be exhausting when you are towing little ones along. Trying to see everyone, making sure we packed everything…And when or where will they nap?! I felt myself becoming anxious over the upcoming holidays about two years ago, with our first born getting a little older. What should be an exciting and enjoyable time of year, was turning into a dreaded hassle.  I even considered traveling so we didn’t have to deal with it! 

Sometimes family members have high expectations of you committing all your time to visiting them.  This can be so hard if you have both sides of the family, and even more so with split families. Not to mention if you have family living far away. Our first couple of years with one child we actually squeezed in seeing everyone all in one day. Our families live in the same state, so it was over 2 hours of driving in one day to see them all.  It was hectic, rushed, and stressful. Trying to please everyone can be so grueling, and then have a negative effect on your family or kids.  

The first two years as parents, we were so caught up in pleasing everyone else that we never spent a Christmas morning in our own house, with our own little family.  Part of me regrets that because we didn’t have a special ‘Christmas morning’ experience with our first baby or pictures to look back on.  So last year, I decided enough was enough. We would not be fitting in both sides of the family on one day.  Our children deserve a slow quiet morning in their own home. Giving them time to enjoy opening presents and play with them instead of running off to the next house.  It’s also not fair to the little ones to be pulled away from playing with their cousins or enjoying the family time. Cutting them short of that special time usually doesn’t go well either…leading to tantrums and so on!

You can’t satisfy everyone so put your little family first. If you and your partner are unhappy, then it will likely reflect on the children and/or stress them out. So brainstorm and consider your options. For example, we decided to celebrate Christmas Eve with my husband’s family, Christmas morning as our own little family at home, then Christmas afternoon/evening with my side of the family.  

Here are a few ideas:

  • Alternate the holiday each year. Thanksgiving with one side, Christmas with the other, and then switch the following year.
  • Split the holiday into two separate days.
  • Have everyone come to your house.
  • Consider starting a new tradition, like baking together or meeting up for a walk. 
  • Or my newest plan…go travel! Just kidding, but not a bad idea really.  

Whatever you decide on, be clear about your plans and stand your ground.  You’re doing what is best for your children. And if you have a difficult time with your family, then at least this year you can use the pandemic as an excuse! Depending on what state you live in, the law can really be on your side this time!  Or maybe you really are nervous about larger gatherings because you have a new baby or small children.  I know I am, our youngest is 9 months and I’m very cautious about who we visit. So...leave it at that… it’s the pandemic’s fault you can’t see too many people in one day! Then your extended family will see how nice it is to enjoy you without cutting the visit short, setting a precedent for the years to come.

Do what brings you joy. Have a happy, safe, and healthy holiday season, from my family to yours.

>> The New England Momma

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