Holiday Schedules

Whether you’re spending the holidays with relatives or at home, one thing is for sure: schedules get turned on their heads during this time of year.

That can make things particularly difficult if you have young children (or in-laws) who are set in their ways. The good news is, you can avoid, or limit, chaos-induced meltdowns with a little advanced planning. Here are a few tips for maintaining some semblance your family’s normal routine during the holidays.

Alicia on ‘Communicate’

‘When families get together during the holidays, there is often a lot of temptation to ditch your routine and just go with the flow. And who can blame you? Even if you did manage to pull your kids away from the festive fun, chances are they would be too wound up for a nap anyway! In effort to keep my daughter on schedule, I make sure to communicate with both the host and other parents as to the habits I hope to keep. By letting them know what is negotiable, such as cookies before dinner (just one), and what is not, such as that the afternoon nap between two and three, I am able to find a middle ground between Lucy’s schedule and everyone else’s during our stay.’

Sarah on ‘Smart Snacks’

‘Sometimes, when you aren’t the one in charge of holiday planning, mealtime can be a little tricky. Our parents tend to schedule the big holiday feast at 2:30 pm, right smack in the middle of our normal lunch and dinner times (and often in the middle of nap time). To avoid the inevitable hunger-induced temper tantrum, I make sure to have a few bags of light snacks on hand for my son. One small Ziploc bag of Cheerios or pretzels at twelve thirty can keep hunger at bay and yet leave enough room for him to want to tuck into his holiday feast. Smart snacks help me keep my son, and sometimes myself, on track to enjoy my parents’ holiday meal.’

Balancing Act:

Here are three ideas for staying on schedule this holiday season.

#1: Give a Call
Before you head over to your in-laws this holiday season, make sure to give everyone the heads up as to your family’s routine. By giving a call in advance, you and your host can figure out a schedule that works best for everyone involved. This way, nap times and meal times won’t overlap and you can be sure to keep your kids well rested and well fed all while keeping in synch with your family and the holiday festivities.

#2: Have a Plan for Down Time
Whether it’s the hour spent sipping cocktails or the post feast turkey lull on the living room couch, there are plenty of idle moments during the holidays that can bore kids and transform them into whiny messes. To keep them smiling, have a few ideas on hand to pass the time. If there are other children around, start a simple but amusing game such as a round of ‘build a story’ or the classic ‘I spy.’ If there aren’t be sure you have a coloring book, blocks or a diversion like a DVD at the ready to keep your child entertained no matter what the grown ups might be busying themselves with during the holiday season.

#3: Lend a Helping Hand
Since the holidays are a time for giving, don’t forget to lend a helping hand during your stay. And while you are busy helping the host, whether it be putting the finishing touches on the big meal or simply clearing away the dishes, encourage your kids to say thank you in their own way and let them color a few thank you cards. Your host is sure to feel appreciated with a sparkling clean kitchen and a fridge full of handmade thank you notes.