(And a few Christmas pictures.)
We have successfully
survived enjoyed 9 family gatherings this holiday season. We are blessed with large families who all live within a few minutes of us, and when you throw in a few important birthdays (Grandmas and little cousins), it makes for a VERY busy couple of weeks for a 3.5 year old, 9 month old and farmer who doesn’t get to take vacation days.
So tonight, while gearing up for two more birthday parties at the end of this week, I compiled a list of some tips I’ve learned in the past couple of years.
(Christmas Eve 2011 – Adam David, 3 1/2; Isaac Douglas, 9 months)
1. Potluck: bring something they like or feed them before you go. Adam is Picky (with a capital P.) For family Christmas #4, he helped me make peanut butter sandwiches, cut out with the new sandwich cutter that Santa brought. They were a huge hit, and kept him from having a hunger induced meltdown.
(Christmas #4 and the puzzle shaped PB sandwiches at the kids table.)
2. Make it work for your schedule. Don’t be shy about coming late or leaving early if the party interferes with naptime. Isaac goes with the flow, but some kids are extra sensitive to missing naps. Adam was that way. A missed nap or late night meant two or three days of cranky-ness. Don’t feel guilty if your child is also like that.
3. Prepare them in advance: tell them what to expect. Let them know who will be there and what events will be taking place. “FIRST, you need to eat something healthy, THEN we take family pictures and AFTER healthy food AND pictures, THEN you can have presents.
(Pictures with my parents and Grandma before presents and cake!)
4. Find a quiet place. Some little kiddos get overstimulated quickly. Help them find a quiet place to take a little break. I am not opposed to nursing in front of my family, but Isaac gets so distracted that we have to go find somewhere quiet (and preferably dark) in order to be successful. At birthday party #3, I went into the nursery and left the light off, and Isaac finally filled up his tummy.
(All he wanted from Santa was that darn toothbrush!)
5. And finally - Bribe them with whatever it takes. This is one of the few times that I think it’s okay to bribe. Won’t smile for the pictures? Mention the word “presents” and I bet they will! Cake and fudge also make great bribes.
(Don’t you love how Adam wrote Isaac?!?!)
Any other tips for making family gatherings and birthday parties go as smoothly as possible?