While these holidays certainly aren’t my first rodeo, I have come to accept that holidays when you are a work-at-home mom are rough. I am incredibly lucky to have my mom as back-up, who spoils Charly with sleepovers and keeps her happily occupied most of the day. BUT! I chose to work from home so I don’t miss too much time with Charly. Holidays are a time when I force myself to stop working for a few hours at a time, no matter what, so we can make memories together. So if you are sitting wondering how on earth you are going to get through the holidays with a toddler… Here are a few tips that have helped me survive.
Routines are there for a reason
While it isn’t always possible, with outings and no school to shape the day, wherever it IS possible, I try to stick to her routine. She has set bedtimes and meal times for a reason – so she doesn’t turn into an exhausted, tearful, hangry little terror. While it is nice for us to “go with the flow”, there is NOTHING nice about a starving overtired toddler. I have learnt my lesson over and over. Last week was a difficult one, because I didn’t push bedtime and ensure she ate a her usual times. There were a lot of tantrums (from her) and middle-of-the-night tears (from me).
I am being particularly strict this week again. In bed, story and lights out by 7. I can already see the difference.
Make a list of manageable adventures
This is particularly important if you are having to work in some form during the holidays. I don’t want holidays to be just another day for Charly, I want to have her be excited and look forward to them like we did growing up. But I also have to be practical… If I don’t work, I don’t get paid. Instead of waiting for a gap in my diary (hahahahahaha) and to avoid frantically searching for somewhere to go or something to do at the last minute when your bored little person has you climbing the walls, make a list of manageable adventures. You don’t have to create a formal schedule (though when nap times were still a thing for us, I ALWAYS did), but having a list of ideas of toddler-friendly places to go makes a huge difference.
Manageable for me generally means set firmly outside of traffic times. No sitting for ages, because a random car nap can be almost as horrifying as a missed nap was when she were little. I try to have one big “outing” per week, and then a few things that I can set aside an hour or two for as well. Not only does this ease my conscience somewhat, it also means that when I do HAVE to work, I can remind Charly of the next fun thing we are doing once I am done. Tomorrow… a mommy-daughter mani with hot chocolate at Rouge Day Spa!!!
Schedule outside time
While visits to the Aquarium, Scratch Patch, the Museum and the like are great outings for your list; try to get the littles daily outdoor time as well. Luckily, while I am very much an indoor person, my mom is the opposite. The beach, the park, even just out and about puddle-jumping in the complex in the afternoon… Being outside with fresh air, sunshine or even an icy wind on the skin and room to run does Charly a world of good. It is also a lot cheaper than many of the alternatives and tires her out. I don’t think I realise how busy they keep the kids at school, until I am faced with the endless energy and restlessness of holiday-Charly.
Our big splurge for this holiday was Bugz Playpark. It is the perfect holiday adventure that has plenty of indoor and outdoor activities. We arrived at 10am and I had to literally carry Charly over my shoulder to get her to leave. We got there early and it was a GORGEOUS winter’s day, clear and crisp. Charly and Chloe went on all the rides before anybody else even started arriving. My baby rode a horse, got into a paddled a boat all on her own, went on the flying swing horses, ziplined, held a goose/duck/chicken/giant bunny, tickled a turkey, rode on two trains and climbed, ran and jumped. I was exhausted 😉
The temptation to get takeout or eat out in the holidays… (Hahahaha, I am going to keep telling myself this is a holiday think ok)… is overwhelming and should be indulged on occasion. It adds up so quickly though and the sugar hits Charly’s veins just like heroin at the moment. I have tried really hard to balance out her outing splurges with lots of veggies, fruits and vitamins at home time meals. I need to get back into taking along a little cooler bag with healthy snacks I know Charly will love (fruit, rice cakes, cheese squares, pretzels), so I don’t end up buying all the junk food to fill the gap “till we get home”.
Quiet time activities
As mentioned, my mom loves being outside (bleugh) and Brett has the patience of a saint with Charly in public places… Me? I feel it is important to embrace quiet time endevours. Not JUST because I am lazy, but because the kind of things I love are generally quieter activites. Reading, movies and puzzles, are my first love, and I LOVE that Charly enjoys spending time with me enough that she has fallen in love with these as well. Colouring in, playdoh, dress up (we have a temporary huge stash of gorgeous high quality outfits from ImagiPlay Costumes) and finger puppets (this was today’s gift of distraction from the amazing Thingamajigs in PE – awesome gifts from #ECMeetup) have also been huge winners this holiday! I am loving the shifit in her interests this week towards more imaginative play. I say this week, because it is distinctly possible next week will be different again.
I have a number… It takes me exactly one hour of complete silence a day to recharge and face the endless energy and cuteness that is my daughter with a smile. Brett is generally great with special daddy-daughter time and he has made even more of an effort to take some of that special time away from the house over the weekends in particular. A shopping trip for groceries or a trip to the gym where she can run wild for an hour in the kids area. With my mom, I really encourage their outside time for a stretch in the day where I can just take a breath and indulge in the absolute silence. Charly still wakes a fair amount in the night, but there is often an hour or two just after she goes to sleep where I try to just be in the quiet, no TV or podcasts or anything to get my fix. Figure out what your number is and ensure you make it a part of every single day. You need (and deserve) space to breathe.
Do you have any tricks that make holidays more manageable and survivable for you?