Parenting is all about that juggle at the best of times – but throw in the silly season and it can go to absolute chaos in the blink of an eye.
With Christmas parties, holidays and just the general pace that this time of year goes, it can be very easy to slip out of routines. You can quickly find yourself with little ones who are overtired, cranky and acting out.
You may be inclined to go with the flow, it’s only a few days/weeks right and then we’ll get back into a normal routine, right? Sure a day or two here or there is not going to be a huge drama, but when it’s multiple days or across the month you may find yourself scrambling to get back on track.
Here are some tips to keep in mind across the next few weeks of festivities from our resident baby whisperer Chris Minogue.
Tips for managing routines over the holidays
Naps may go off schedule – a day here or there is fine – but any more than that and you may be spending weeks trying to get back on track. So stick with their routine where you can.
Happy baby = happy parents
At this time of year, there seems to be something on every weekend (and especially in that Christmas week), and as much as we’d love to go to them all it’s just not possible with little ones.
Choose wisely the things you have to go to, politely decline the ones you can’t and make strategic exit plans for the rest. (And make sure you and your partner are on the same page).
Remember awake times are key
It can be easy to forget how long your baby has been awake when you’re socialising and having a good time – and they seem fine, so how bad can it be, right? Well, they’ll tell you exactly how bad it can be when they become overtired and hysterical.
Keep track of their awake times – even set a reminder in your phone if you’re worried.
Tip: Don’t be fooled by those toddlers who seem fine to miss their nap… Combine that with sugary treats and all the excitement and they will hit a wall hard and fast! You don’t want to still be at the party when that happens.
Take their sleep cues with you
If you know their nap is going to be when you’re at the party or out and about, make sure you plan ahead.
Take the porta cot, blackout blinds, white noise machine, sleepsuit and of course, their favourite teddy. Making the sleep environment as close as what they’re used to as this will help them settle in for a quality nap.
Little ones can only handle so much excitement – as much as they may delight in it. Remember that you will need to be their guide, so whether it’s too many sugary treats, too many presents or too much running around… Remember to draw them back in when they need it.
Having some quiet time to regulate between lunch and dinner, a nap even if they don’t nap anymore or just a few minutes away can help little ones reset.
Tip: Small babies get overwhelmed and overtired quickly – lots of colours, noise and people can do it. Especially if they are being handed around for all the relatives to have a cuddle. Don’t be afraid to say no and cut off the cuddles when they need to sleep.
Reset the routine when you get home
Even if the day has been all over the shop – try and restart the routine when you get home. Even if it’s a simplified version; a quick bath, book and bottle before getting them into bed can help them regulate and reset.
Enjoy yourself and don’t stress
Remember to enjoy yourself too! Know that a few missed naps or a couple of days here and there aren’t going to be a major problem. So don’t stress too much, just try and get back on track when you can.
You don’t have to be all things to everybody, so don’t be afraid to say no to things or people holding the baby if they need to sleep – or leave early if you need to.
The holiday season will get easier as your kids get older and you will have more flexibility – but when they are little you need to do what’s best for you and your little ones.