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6 Tips for for a Magical Holiday

Help Your Child Enjoy the Season's Festivities Without a Meltdown

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Curious, Creative, Caring, and Confident™
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With careful planning—and moderation on your part—your little one can enjoy a truly magical season.
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Tis the season to be jolly. Right?

Well, yes, but for little ones, the holidays may look more like this:

  • Too much excitement
  • Too much food
  • Too much shopping
  • Too much schlepping, and
  • Too much stimulation
Fortunately, there are ways to keep the season joyful. Try these tips.

1. Take some of the surprise out of the holidays.

Though this year's festivities may be limited due to the pandemic, reveal your holiday plans to the kids ahead of time and include such topics as family activities, such as decorating the tree, gifts you have to buy (for others, not them), any guests you expect, and travel you’ve planned.Transitions are easier when kids knowwhat’s coming up when, where they have to go, how long it takes to get there,whom they’re going to see, and what they’re going to do.

2. Let your pint-size celebrants help you plan the holiday festivities.

Give kids a chance to pitch in with the prep or take over certain tasks—with you nearby to help them. Have them make holiday cards and gift tags, decorate cookies, stuff Rover’s stocking full of biscuits, and help you select teachers’ gifts. The holidays are also a great time for kids to think of others. Let little ones choose gently used toys and clothes to donate or help you prepare kids’ treats for the party you plan to have.

3. Set realistic expectations.

Nothing torpedoes a mood faster than a wish list that exceeds the family budget. Remind your child ahead of time that there are kids nearby who are far lessfortunate. Explain that every family, including yours, has its own values, traditions, and financial resources. Don’t over promise.

See Also: 3 Tips for Selecting Holiday Gifts that Encourage Creative Play

4. Expect the unexpected.

Count on late starts, flight delays, traffic, headaches, earaches, tummy aches, and more. Remain flexible. Kids will follow your example. Initiate Plan B. If you’re traveling by car, know the rest stops along the way and be proactive about pulling into them. Pack snacks, books, games, music, puzzles, apps, and videos to keep backseat drivers busy.

5. Don’t overschedule activities.

Arranging too many things to do—shopping, cooking, virtual visits and/or parties with relatives, and staying up later than usual can leave preschool kids tired and cranky. Set aside time every day for low-key (not over-stimulating) activities, such as reading books, telling stories, playing games, listening to music, or watching old-time kid-friendly holiday movies together.

6. Create a holiday tradition.

Starting something new is a great way to bring parents and kids together. Take a group picture every year in the same location, with everyone standing or seated in the same spot. If you play instruments, stage a concert; if you’re artsy, decorate; and if you’re curious, start a list of all the amazing things to see and wonderful places to go. Give your little one a say in which ones top her list.