I recently attended my first ever evening Christmas family function with my own children, my 3yr olds preschool concert. While both my girls did wonderfully well, up an hour after bedtime they are both exhausted today and will need some extra care (and a long nap) today. This got me thinking about the time ahead. With the festive season upon us there are many different functions, family events etc and many of us try to be as flexible as we can. Some children cope with routine change better than others. Whether it’s staying away from home, new and different foods or simply sensory overload here are some tips to surviving the festive period with young children.

  • Stop, revive, survive. A little dramatic perhaps? Borrowing the catchphrase from the RTA and applying it here what I am trying to say is it’s ok to stop.  Take some time out. You don’t need to attend everything and you don’t need to stay until the end of everything.
  • Rest days/afternoons etc. Depending on the nature of your children I would strongly recommend you plan for days where you can have quiet time, rest time or simply home based time. Yes missing the odd party or gathering is a shame, but I would safely bet that your enjoyment of the other events will be greater if you have a rested, refreshed child.
  • Prepare your child. If your child doesn’t cope well with change, prepare them as best you can. Show them photos of the relatives you are planning to visit. Practice staying in the same room all together etc before you go away. All of these things will help your child to become more confident and comfortable.
  • Take comfort items.  Taking your child’s own blanket or pillow may seem excessive but depending on your child it can be the key to sleeping well or not while away.
  • Take your toys to gatherings. I cannot count the amount of times I have gone to a family gathering and have been told “it’s ok we have plenty of toys” only to find they are not even remotely age appropriate for my children. Always have a few of your child’s favourites in the car to run and grab if needed.
  • Food. At this time of year many people eat lots of things that they wouldn’t normally eat or eat a lot more “treat” foods. While it is certainly not a problem for your children to have these treats too, it is important to be mindful that a diet change can affect a lot of children. Interspersing Christmas cookies with a sandwich or piece of fruit cut into a Christmas shape can help the child to not feel that they are missing out but still help them stick to a normal diet.
  • Also while thinking about food, I would also recommend taking provisions for a couple of “favourite” meals if you are going away. Arriving in another persons house and travelling can be upsetting enough for a child but then to be offered a strange or new meal they can become very overwhelmed very quickly. By taking a frozen container of their favourite pasta sauce or something similar you are able to quickly make a healthy meal that you know they will like and will help them feel more at home.
  • One further thought about food, little bits add up quickly. Well-meaning friends and family may give your children “just a little….” Without realising that 4 others have already done the same thing. It is ok to ask people to check with your first, it is not being “over protective” it is quite sensible and you should be able to phrase it in a way that even Great Aunt Mabel won’t be offended by!

We hope you find these tips helpful and we would love you to share your tips with us.