Surviving that Christmas Trip ‘Back Home’ with Kids

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advice for christmas with toddler
© Barbara Helgason –

“I hate Christmas”, a friend of mine used to say.  Every year she would pack up her three little ones and drive the 12 hours back to her home town, all the while stressing about whether she had scheduled things properly, so that no one family member would feel slighted. This, coupled with the anxiety of wondering if, when, and where, her children might succumb to a well deserved meltdown, really added up to not a very joyous season. Thankfully for us, she has been kind enough to contribute some great content to this list of tips on how to survive the holiday season when on-the-go with a baby, toddler or small child.

  • Try to carry some healthy snacks with you and feed them to your child on the way to people’s houses. Once your child is there, the coffee table full of cookies and chips will be irresistible.
  • If you have the space, pack your own child proofing equipment. A few little items such as outlet covers and safety latches can buy you some well needed peace of mind.
  • Pack your child’s clothes ‘by the outfit’ in Ziploc bags. This way there is no scrambling around for  the dress socks or tights. Always carry an extra set so that when Grandma decides that it is time for your little one to open their new paint set (and then walks away), you are prepared.
  • Colour code gifts by wrapping all the gifts going to the same house in the same type of paper, thus saving time at your destination. Also bring a few extra little gifts along.  It never fails that someone is going to show up at a function that you have forgotten about.
  • Share your schedule with family ahead of time so that everyone is on the same page. Likewise, if your child has a rigid nap schedule, advise family so that they won’t schedule a boisterous game of charades right in the middle of it.
  • Have your child space out the opening of their gifts over the course of the day so they will not get overwhelmed. Hopefully they will also spend more time playing with each individual toy, giving you a little extra rest.
  • Schedule some down time during the day when you take your child outside for some fresh air, or find a quiet place to read to them.
  • Say “NO” sometimes. Will it kill you to miss the Boxing Day party for a year or two?  Will you really miss that much? As with every year, Cousin Jay will drink to much and Auntie Melinda will share just a little too much personal information.
  • If your child is old enough, try to find some “teaching moments” where you can discuss the spirit of giving, not just receiving.



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