Friendsgiving parties, Thanksgiving dinners and the whole crush of holiday activities until New Year’s … so many chances to make memories with your little one and share the fun through Instagram Stories or Snap videos! But Dr. Sheethal Reddy, psychologist and mom of two kids under 3, warns that holiday stress can add to mom stress and build into a perfect storm for child tantrums and even mom meltdowns.
Check out her tips for avoiding being overwhelmed and keeping the season fun—for you and your little one!
This is the season of giving and expressing gratitude yet, we’re often so rushed trying to buy everyone a perfect gift or create the perfect meal that we feel exhausted by the end of it. Dr. Reddy suggests, “This year, before the holiday chaos begins, set aside some time to reflect on the memories you want to create this year. What sort of memories do you want the kids to have about this holiday season?”
Trying to cook a meal or decorate the house with little ones underfoot can be challenging. Sometimes, you’re doing your best just not to spill anything as you avoid tripping over toys in the kitchen. Dr. Reddy says, “Find ways to get the kids involved. Have them help wrap presents, mix ingredients for a recipe, draw holiday cards, or come up with a dance routine for their favorite holiday song. They’ll feel involved and proud that they could help with holiday activities.”
Kid-friendly holiday parties and events are great because they keep the kids busy and entertained for hours and usually make your kids tired and ready to nap (score!). But too many activities can leave your kids feeling more worn out and exhausted over time. It’s easy for babies to get overstimulated—and fussy—with all of the extra activity so you might want to be prepared to take baby to a quiet place during a party if needed. Says Dr. Reddy, “Decide what events are most important to you and make sure those happen. It’s important to make sure little ones are still getting enough sleep and eating well so they can enjoy this special time. Put family events and downtime on the calendar to ensure balance.”
As moms, a lot of times, we feel we have to do it all, and all by ourselves. “For many moms, it’s uncomfortable to admit you need help, but allowing others to help also creates a stronger network of social support for you and your family. It’s reassuring to know there are other adults in your children’s lives whom you can trust,” says Reddy. “And remember: You’re not the only mom who needs a break. Don’t forget you can always return the favor and offer to watch a friend’s children, too.”
The most important thing at the holidays is to be kind to yourself and not beat yourself up for things you didn’t do, or that didn’t go exactly as planned. “You’ll be late to activities, and everyone will understand,” says Dr. Reddy. “Your table might not look exactly like the Pinterest image you were aiming for, but your guests won’t even know. January 2 will be here soon enough, and you’ll be back to a more normal routine. So, just like the baby years, remember that the during the holiday season the days are long but the months are short. Enjoy what you can and let the rest go.”