Christmas with a Toddler: Parenting Tips I Learned
Last year, Zoe was only 4 months old by the time Christmas rolled around. She was not mobile and we could easily prop her up on the couch while we sat and opened presents. She was easy to take along to Springfield, MA and then to New York so that we could spend time with our families. There weren’t many presents and the ones that we did receive were small.
This year….well, it was a whole different ball game. Here are some things I learned while trying to manage Christmas with a toddler. I will definitely pull up this post next year as I begin to prepare for another holiday with kids (two next time!).
Lessons Learned from Baby’s Second Christmas
Build large items prior to Christmas morning. Opening toy packages is seemingly impossible these days. We needed sharp, heavy duty scissors, screw drivers, hammers, and LOTS of patience. Having an eager child whining for the toy does not help either. We will unwrap and set up toys ahead of time in the future.
Buy extra batteries for gifts that may need them. Stockpile them. I mean it. Every toy out there seems to need at least four batteries these days and sometimes family members/friends aren’t aware that their gift for your child will require them.
Before purchasing anything that makes noise, make sure there is an off switch and that you know where it is. Zoe received a musical Elmo. Let’s just say my mom and I panicked for five minutes while frantically trying to figure out where the ‘off’ switch was…
Save big presents, or at least the most prized ones, for last. This may be hard to do, but we are going to try it next year. Zoe’s big present was one of those big plastic cars and we were SO excited to give her to her. It was the first thing she saw when she walked into the room and it was all she wanted. She didn’t pay attention or listen to anyone. She also had to have someone push her around it in, which made the rest of the Christmas process delayed. At one point, I suggested to my mom that maybe we should put her back to bed so we could all open presents and then wake her back up.
Go light on the wrapping. I skipped ribbon this year, which was hard for me. I LOVE wrapping presents. The presents looked so boring under the tree but it was one less thing to deal with. Also, I did a lot of gift bags. It was easier for Zoe to reach in and pull something out rather than unwrapping it. Also, it was a great way to conceal something if needed. For example, Zoe received play dough as a gift. Personally, I am not a fan of play dough for a 16 month old who loves to eat everything, squash things into couches and smear food on the walls. As fast as she pulled it out, it was back in the bag and she hadn’t noticed…crisis averted.
Don’t go overboard. Zoe got a few gifts from us but we should have just gotten her one or two gifts. We seemed to have forgotten that she has two sets of grandparents, two uncles, and many other close friends who were excited to get her toys. My dad laughed at one point and told us that we have lost our house until Zoe is 16. Our living room/family room resembles a toy store right now.
In the end, as usual, the best Christmas presents are often those not purchased. This was the first Christmas that both sides of our family came together. I never had this growing up – all of our family lived far away so it was just my parents, my brother and I every year for the holidays. I didn’t know what it was like having it any other way. Having both sides of our family and extended family over and see Zoe play, smile, and hug them all was truly the best gift. I am so thankful that Zoe will get to experience many holidays like this in the future.