Since Christmas and birthdays only come around once a year, Easter is a really great excuse for a holiday, family gatherings, picnics and, well… chocolate! Of course, if you’re a practicing Christian, Easter will mean a whole lot more to you than that – after all, Jesus is believed to have been resurrected on Easter Sunday, but I’ll save that history lesson (and perspective) for a writer with more Church-cred.
For parents of little ones, the approach of the Easter holidays can raise a few red flags, like, chocolate (how much is too much??) and routine interruption (how many tantrums can we smudge into one day… Amiright?)…
Here’s my guide to navigating Easter with your little one…
To chocolate egg or not to chocolate egg…
Unlike most holidays, when it comes to Easter, sugar is pretty hard to avoid – if impossible. And if you’re anything like me, you’ve probably made it your business to introduce your baby or toddler to everything BUT sugar up until this point. After all, there’s plenty of natural sugar in fruit!
But now Easter is approaching, and every store you walk into is glistening with the colourful tinsel wrapping on chocolate eggs and bunny rabbits. Do you embrace the western cultural event of the egg hunt and subsequent chocolate egg feast – that has been known to last weeks?
Or, do you deprive your child of good old fashioned Aussie fun – and feast?!
Initially I opted for the latter, no chocolate approach – after all, if they’ve never tasted it, how would they know what they’re missing out on? That is, of course, if they’ve never tasted it…
But the following Easter saw me easing up a bit. You can begin to feel cruel being the only parent not allowing their child to eat chocolate – a killjoy at best! And abstaining from any chocolate could be viewed as an extreme parenting choice that might potentially lead to some unintended consequences down the road…
With five Easters under my parenting belt now, my advice is to act in moderation. Go for it and surprise your child with an egg hunt – outside in the garden is best (if you have one and if it’s not raining!). But don’t feel like all of the eggs or treasure in the hunt have to be chocolate, sweets or even edible. It’s the adventure, mystery and surprise that makes the egg hunt so special for young children. You could consider including wooden painted eggs, small duckling or bunny rabbit toys or other small shiny trinkets in the hunt.
In other words, if you take the focus off the chocolate, while including some chocolate in the mix, you can encourage less chocolate consumption and more play and adventure!
Another good idea, once they’ve gathered their eggs together into their basket, is to be clear from the start about Easter eggs and boundaries. Perhaps it’s one small egg a night after dinner for the next week – or whatever feels reasonable depending on the age of your kids and your household culture pertaining to treats.
Tip: I wouldn’t encourage a free-for-all! To avoid a sugar-come down from hell – and a little chocolate junkie in the making, opt for moderation. Trust and thank me later.
Parenting is all about that juggle at the best of times – but throw in a holiday and the wheels can start to fall off. Amiright…?
You’ve probably found a routine that is working well for your family, whereby your little one’s awake windows and sleep needs are considered, and for the most part, met. As wonderful as holidays are, with all the socialising, events, travel and discarded routine that often come with them, we can quickly find ourselves with overtired, cranky and difficult little people.
Resident Kiindred Mothercraft nurse and baby whisperer Chris Minogue offers these four tips for managing routines over Easter…
1. Choose wisely
At Easter and during most holiday seasons, our social calendars tend to fill up quicker than usual. Be selective about the events and occasions that you feel you really want to attend, and be clear on those you’re willing to miss. Little people don’t have the stamina to go to everything; they need some breaks and down time to rest and reset.
2. Awake times are key
It can be easy to forget how long your baby has been awake for when you’re socialising. The problem with babies and toddlers is that they can seem absolutely fine… until they’re not. Switching over to overtired hysteria can come out of nowhere – or seemingly so, and is a hard one to reverse.
So, keep track of their awake times – even set a reminder on your phone if you need to.
If you’re not planning to go home for their nap, prearranging somewhere for them to sleep at your relative’s house can be helpful. Don’t forget to bring your monitor!
Tip: Don’t be fooled by a baby or toddler who seems fine sans nap… After all, it’s a once off – right? Wrong. Combine overtired with a sugar high and you have a cocktail for disaster. (You wouldn’t want to still be at the party when that come down crashes…)
3. Avoid overstimulation
Little ones can only handle so much overstimulation. Unlike the pre-kid old days where you might have been one of the last men standing, know when to leave. (Tip: before the meltdown happens!)
Remember that little ones have virtually no life experience and very little ability to regulate themselves, so they rely on us to be their guide. Whether it’s too many sugary treats, too many presents or too much running around – remember to set boundaries, limit social commitments and know when to wrap things up and take your child home.
Carving out some quiet time for your little one to regulate between lunch and dinner – a nap even if they don’t nap anymore or just a few minutes away from the noise – can help them reset.
Tip: Babies get overwhelmed and overtired quickly – colours, noise and new people can do it. Especially if they’re being handed around from relative to relative. Don’t be afraid to advocate for your baby when you feel it’s time for them to have a break. Reconnecting with mum or dad during some quiet time might be just what they need. Slipping away to a quiet room for a little while can work wonders.
4. Reset the routine as soon as possible
Even if the day has been all over the shop – try and restart the routine when you get home or when your guests have left. It might have to be a simplified version: a quick bath, book and feed before getting them to bed can help bub regulate and reset.
Easter provides us with an opportunity for the whole family to come together, celebrate and have fun. So, while observing your child’s awake windows, setting boundaries around chocolate consumption and being their guide are important for the day/s to run smoothly, know that Easter only comes around once a year, and you’re allowed to enjoy it and go with the flow a little too.