Mommy post ahead! Although, this may be an entertainment piece as well since I will be explaining how I came up with these tips... Hint - We had quite the experience with our little one during last year's holidays.
If its your first year with your bundle of joy, you may be wondering how the holidays will change for you. You may be anticipating some changes or maybe you haven't even given it much thought. Either way, this post is meant to help my fellow mamas have a less stressful, smoother holiday experience.
Problem: Thanksgiving Dinner. You may not get to eat with everyone.
Personal Experience: Ok. I will admit I was blind sighted by this one. First let me state that I am lucky enough to not have to cook a full Thanksgiving dinner. We have family on both sides that cook this dinner whether we attend or not... We, of course, show up with a side, dessert, or appetizer; which I usually prepare. But for the most part we get to enjoy the company of family during a delicious feast.
Last year was my son's first Thanksgiving. I was fully expecting to have him fuss since he used to get overwhelmed in a new environment with a large group of people around him. But my little boy was full on crying and screaming most of Thanksgiving day. I tried to put him in his pack n play with his favorite snacks, a bottle, books, and toys during dinnertime... It was a no go. I ended up taking him into another room and rocking him until he eventually fell asleep. By the time I was able to put him to sleep in his pack n play, everyone else was finished eating. So I hurriedly ate my lukewarm dinner while carefully listening for my son to wake up.
Solution: This year I plan on waking my son up early that morning so that he will take his nap during our hour and a half drive. We will bring the pack n play just in case but I'm mostly hoping napping before hand will make him a little (ok, a lot) more relaxed. I'm also planning on brings books, toys, a DVD, and the iPad for him just in case.
Problem: Gift Giving Stress
Personal Experience: Not only does my family celebrate Christmas, my son's birthday also takes place during that magical month. So my gift giving/buying duties are doubled. Last year I did pretty well with buying items on sale and planning spending so that it fit our budget.
Tip: Start buying gifts during sales NOW. I know its hard to get into the gift buying mood, but it ends up costing you less money and stress when you buy little by little over a series of months instead of buying it all over the course of a couple of weeks. Also take advantage of Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals!
Buying gifts - I did very well with. Storing those gifts until Christmas and Birthday time.... I did not do so well on that. I had gifts stashed in every closest in our house. This made it very overwhelming to find those gifts when it was time to wrap them. Not to mention making our living space feel like a mess. At one point I was just putting gifts where ever I could tuck them away. I even forgot about some of them until we were in the process of packing and moving. I also waited until the last minute to wrap the gifts. Not fun.
Solution: This year I have stuck to buying gifts as they go on sale throughout the year. I have also designated two HUGE Rubbermaid bins for my son's gifts. And they are in the garage. This way I can go out and look through what I have periodically, have everything in one place, and not clutter up the house. I have also vowed to begin wrapping little by little the first week of December.
Problem: Opening gifts is surprisingly stressful.
Personal Experience: Maybe its just me, but I imagined watching my son open his gifts as I sipped my coffee and we all had one of those blissful childhood moments. What really happened? We opened a couple of gifts, my son wanted to play with one, we told him no so that we could continue open the rest of his presents. Bad idea. He was then upset, hung up on that one toy and we ended up rushing to open the toy so he could play with it anyway.
Solution: This year we will help my son open his gifts. If he gets stuck on wanting to play with one specific toy, we will then open it and let him occupy himself playing with it while we open the rest of his gifts and show them to him when he is more receptive. I know this isn't what the traditional "opening of gifts" experience is... but I'll take a smiling toddler over a crying one... especially since forcing your child to open gifts when he is not interested seems odd.
I'm hoping these changes will not only give us a less stressful holiday season, but also help you mamas as well!