Even though Pooky will be celebrating her third Christmas this year, I’m still using some of the lessons I learned from our last two seasons to guide us through this Christmas as peacefully as possible.
If you have a baby or infant at home who will be celebrating their first or even second Christmas, maybe this list of tips will help you and your family make the most of the season without losing your Christmas spirit.
1. Don’t overdo it. It is so easy to get overwhelmed with the Christmas “to-do” list. Add a baby into that mix, and you’re just asking for a meltdown (and I’m not talking about baby here). Learn to say no to yourself and to others, and keep your month low key while still making joyous holiday memories.
2. Don’t try to do everything. Your child won’t remember any holiday traditions you start up this year. Choose a few things that are special to you and your family, and let the rest go until next year (or the year after that).
3. Stick to your routine, at least as much as is possible. This is doubly hard if you’re traveling (especially across time zones). But make it a priority because it makes a big difference in your child’s temperament.
4. Read picture books about Christmas. This might seem like an odd thing to include in this list, but here’s my reasoning. Reading quality board books and picture books about Christmas helps little ones gradually gather information about this holiday. They start to learn names and purposes for items they don’t generally come into contact with (think jingle bells). Eventually they can relate to (and enjoy) these things a little more when they experience them in the real world. My favorite board book that serves this purpose is the Mouse’s First…series. Here are our other Christmas favorites.
5. Don’t even try to get the perfect holiday baby picture for your Christmas cards. This just puts stress on you and/or your photographer and creates tension that baby picks up on. Instead, I recommend using a candid shot, or a collage of cute moments you’ve happened to catch along the way under stress-free circumstances.
6. Choose wisely when it comes to the Christmas tree. Some kiddos are just becoming avid climbers when it’s time to put that tree up. Maybe this is the year to go for a small table top tree out of baby’s reach. Some people gate off their tree. If you still put up a large tree, re-think the ornaments. Leave the glass heirlooms in storage for a few years, and use soft, non-breakable ornaments especially on the lower half of the tree.
7. Open all the gifts ahead of time. By this, I mean to take the toys out of that insanely difficult to open plastic packaging so your child doesn’t have to wait for you to do it on Christmas morning (and possibly witness some questionable language) before he can play with it. This also means put in any necessary batteries (which these days requires fighting with a screwdriver to get the battery compartment open and closed). Also, when you’re ready to wrap the little tyke’s gifts, use tissue paper or gift bags instead of wrapping paper, so they can help with the unwrapping.
8. Don’t blow the budget on baby (sometimes the bubble wrap is all that’s needed). It is sooo hard to resist those cute toys and clothes for baby! I get it, trust me! BUT, baby will outgrow them so fast, you have to wonder if it was all worth it. Some items have long staying power with kids, but others will lose their wow factor long before the batteries wear out. When considering a toy, think carefully about whether it can be played with in multiple ways and if it has potential to grow with your child. (I shared a list of gender-neutral toys Pooky has grown with and enjoyed over a long period of time.)
These tips have proven helpful in keeping our focus on Christmas and not on the chaos. I hope they can do the same for you and your family. Would you add anything to this list?
Share this with others you know who are celebrating their child’s first (or second) Christmas.