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Christmas and New Year - routines and festivities!

Updated: Feb 17, 2023

What does Christmas and New Year mean to you and your family, and is it important to stick to routines?

Well, the festive season is upon us, and it means so many things to us for many reasons, recreating traditions you’ve grown up with (and creating your own!) remembering loved ones we’ve lost, and for many, it can be a financially tough time, particularly in these testing times where we’re all having to be more mindful with our money due to the current climate. Some of us never had luxury in the first place and are now finding things incredibly hard. This blog is really to encourage you to relax more about routine during this time and also, to encourage spending more time with loved ones and keeping it magical without forking out ridiculous amounts of money, because that’s essentially not what Christmas should be about! Even if you don’t celebrate Christmas as a family, with schools and (most) workplaces closing down for the festive period, everything can seem a little topsy turvy for a while - especially that period between Christmas and New Year where no one seems to know what day it is or what they’re doing!

Christmas Present Stress You might feel pressured to get your little one the latest must-have gift because they’re adamant it’s all they could ever want from Santa, but, in reality, they often won’t remember that much those coveted toy in years to come.… they will however remember the memories, fun and traditions you make as a family… the Christmas movies snuggled under blankets, the putting out of carrots for the reindeer, and cookies and a tipple for Santa on Christmas Eve, and all the time together just playing games and having fun. None of this must cost a lot of money. Remember too, most very little ones get more fun out of the box/packaging than they do from the toy itself, and older children’s toys can quickly end up in landfill after they’ve lost all the tiny bits that go with it! So save on plastic throw away toys where you can. For example, that Barbie playhouse on the TV ads with lots of tiny plastic parts (which easily get lost) may not be the best choice, even though it looks like the gift of their dreams today.

So, try to really enjoy your family time and don’t stress too much about expensive gifts that are soon forgotten. If you do give gifts try and think more about things that are needed, practical, and not easily disposable. How about experiences that can be enjoyed after the big day is over, or a subscription that will mean a regular gift arriving through the year? Routine is key … but what about during the holiday period? Well… as and where you can, try and maintain the routines you already have in place as this can be reassuring and comforting for children, especially when everything else is different and you perhaps have lots of visits to do, or visitors to host. But don’t be too hard on yourself during this time either, it's normal for little ones to be a bit out of kilter during these periods – this can apply to all ages, but it's also important to enjoy yourself too! The more you defer from your routine, the harder it can be to fall back into again after the holidays end, but saying that, usually once you revert back to your original familiar routine, it should be pretty quick to reinstate things. You may have to be a little patient and gradually get timings back to normal over a few days and nights, but you need to weigh this up with regards to the festivities and enjoying some time for yourself as well.

Just remember that your little one will adjust to a new routine quite quickly, typically within a few days, so don’t panic. Festivities can help tire out the little ones! The excitement of Christmas (or any holiday), and all the festivities that surround it, mean that little ones can often get tired out more quickly - which can work in your favour! It's best of course to try to avoid high levels of sugar and E numbers where you can, but if they are going to have extra chocolate or party style food then just try and allow for it earlier in the day and don’t stress out about it too much! Aim to get out in the fresh air every day where possible, for walks or just a chance to run around at the park or in the woods to burn off some extra energy. If you have reluctant older children who don’t want to head out in the cold, perhaps suggest a fun new park you’ve not been to before, or GEOCACHING, which gives you a ‘treasure’ to hunt for while following clues? Then a lovely snuggle under cosy blankets watching movies all together when you get back, and perhaps a hot chocolate (with squirty cream and marshmallows), can be a good bribe, if it's not too close to bedtime of course!

The build-up of excitement on Christmas Eve can also be stressful for parents - I’ve been there myself where you can’t go to bed until the children eventually drop off, it can be a long wait! Try to wear them out with physical activity in the day, healthy food (not just junk food and sweets, which can be in high supply around this time!), factor in a nice warm bath, lavender oil is also amazing, and a cosy story and cuddle. Remind them that if they stay awake too late, they won’t enjoy the big day as they’ll be too tired! If you can get as organised as possible ahead of Christmas Eve, so you’re not still frantically wrapping late into the night, that will reduce stress levels and give you an opportunity to relax and prepare yourself for the following day and early start - so try to get an early night yourself (if your children allow!).

Most importantly, just try re-group, and enjoy the time together. There will be things that happen that won’t be planned, routines that may go out of the window temporarily, you may have visitors turning up unexpectedly, and sleep may feel like a distant dream for a while, but it will get back to normal again, I promise!

Merry Christmas (whether you celebrate or not!), and a Happy New Year to you and your family. May it be healthy, joyful, magical, prosperous, and full of sleep! Lots of love and sleep,

Emily xx

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