The holidays. These two words can bring out a wide range of emotions for parents of young children. It can be tough to balance relaxing and enjoying the season with trying to keep some sense of normalcy and routine in your (and your child’s!) life. After all, isn’t everything more pleasant with a child who is well-fed and well-rested? But on the other hand, it’s no fun to miss out on special events because of a strict nap schedule or to pass up on grandma’s homemade cookies because they aren’t a healthy snack. Striking a good balance can be tough this time of year.

This is the first year that both of my children are old enough to really “get” Christmas. They’ve already been to visit our local mall Santa (it wasn’t really optional, as my older son started loudly talking to Santa as if they were good friends as we walked by…), and I don’t even want to say how many days (weeks!?) we’ve been listening to Christmas music. There are so many things to do and see and eat that it can be overwhelming. Here are some ways we hope to manage the holiday stresses so we can enjoy the season as much as possible!

*Pick one day each week where you can disrupt the schedule for something fun. Whether it’s swapping out your toddler’s 2 hour nap at home for a 30 minute “in the car” nap on the way to see a tree lighting, or allowing cocoa stirred with a candy cane instead of a healthy afternoon snack, one day of disruption each week lets you make holiday memories while still maintaining the healthy habits most of the time.

You're offering me freeze dried yogurt drops, Mom? HAA! Grandma just gave me ICE CREAM.

You’re offering me freeze dried yogurt drops, Mom? HAA! Grandma just gave me ICE CREAM.

*Let the “process” win over the “product”. Sure, five year olds are heavy-handed with the sprinkles and they put half the Christmas ornaments on one branch…but they’re enjoying it! Let it go. Resist the urge to “fix” things, at least while they’re around. Give them their own plate of cookies to decorate however they want to. Let them decorate, then quietly “redistribute” the ornaments later. Or, buy an inexpensive “kid’s tree” that they can decorate, undecorate, and redecorate as often as they wish.

This is my mantra!

*Borrow Llama, Llama Holiday Drama by Anna Dewdney from your local library and read it together. It’s a great rhyming story (perfect for about ages 2-7) about how a little llama gets so overwhelmed by all the excitement of the holidays (including both Hanukkah and Christmas) that he realizes it’s nice to just take a break sometimes and enjoy being with his family.

"Gifts are nice, but there's another: The true gift is, we have each other."

*Repeat after me: “I am not responsible for the actions of Santa.” Like our fellow blogger Stephanie recently lamented, my kids also want those stupid overpriced, ahem, charming and snuggly “Glow Pets” that they saw on the one and only commercial I’ve ever seen aired during their waking hours on Sprout. They asked me if I’d buy them, and of course I said “No, I’m sorry, but those cost $29.95 plus shipping, and you already own more stuffed animals than any child should.” However, my older son asked Santa– in person– for a puppy Glow Pet. Buh-bye, principles! I didn’t give in though…Santa did. And even this hardened mom can’t bring myself to make the big guy in red look bad. There are still 364 other days to teach my kids about money and wants and needs. Sigh.

Worth it!

Worth it!

Buckle up, moms. The holidays are upon us! Enjoy!

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