Are you the mom of young children? You’ll love these 8 ways to make Christmas special with babies and toddlers!
Mama of littles, everyday life is hard, isn’t it?
Your sweet little children, the ones you’ve hoped, prayed, and waited for, are so … full of life. They cry. They fuss. They poop. They spit up. And when they get a little older and start walking and talking, they throw temper tantrums and turn so completely stubborn.
They are their own selves – very big selves in very little bodies.
But for all of that messiness of life – whether it’s actual physical messiness or behavioral messiness – it’s also wonderful.
Your children bring so much joy your heart feels like it could burst. They make you smile. They make you laugh. They are so completely smart and adorable and say the most amazing things.
Life with your littles can be a roller coaster ride of ups and downs – extreme highs and extreme lows each and every day.
Add Christmas to the picture, and … WOW.
The mixed bag of Christmas
Christmas is fantastic when you have young children. There’s so much to see and do and explore. But it mirrors the extreme highs and lows of everyday life. Having so much to see and do can leave your entire family exhausted.
If you try to cram every single Christmas ideal into your December, it throws your baby’s sleep schedule off. You deal with so many more meltdowns. Once your kiddos are old enough to realize what’s coming, their excitement morphs into strange behaviors and an excitement that just won’t calm down.
An imperfect Christmas
I can assure you that a picture perfect dream of Christmas won’t happen. Yet even knowing this ahead of time, you still may end up feeling disappointed.
Please relax. And please relax your expectations this Christmas.
I’ve lived through the Christmas with a baby stage, the Christmas with a toddler plus a newborn stage, and the Christmas with two toddlers stage. It’s a tough time.
I had plenty of high expectations: Baking and decorating Christmas cookies with my young children. Working on homemade gifts for grandparents. Posing for a family photo. Going to family Christmas parties.
You know what I learned? Christmas with toddlers is MESSY. (Even with baby-proofed Christmas decorations.)
If you’re anything like me, the messiness is frustrating.
Baking or frosting cookies together should be a fun experience, right? It all depends on your definition of fun. Your toddler will end up eating most of the cookie dough and spreading the frosting ev.er.y.where. Your floors and walls and clothes and table and chairs will be covered in some sort of ingredient. The same thing will happen if and when you attempt Christmas crafts.
Make sure you still bake the cookies … your children will love sampling the work of their own hands.
And make sure you still make the crafts, even though they will most definitely create a huge mess. Keep those crafts, because your children will grow and change and you’ll never have a craft made at that age again.
Make sure you still go to the Christmas parties, too, even if just for a little while, so your children can see your family and friends – and everyone can see how much your little ones are growing and changing.
Through all of the mess and chaos, take a deep breath, smile, and sing along with the Christmas music. Take lots and lots of pictures, even when you think you should be wiping up the drips of wet paint or globs of frosting. Kiss that sticky toddler of yours, try to calm your screeching baby, and remind yourself this moment will not last forever.
You might end up screaming in the process – and never be able to forget your frustration – but Christmas will soon be over and everything will be back to normal.
Your children will forget about the whole experience in a few years, but you’ll still remember. And you’ll look at your growing (or grown) children and remember the sheer craziness of those early years. You’ll be thankful that your children can now do so much more … but a part of you will miss the time when your babies were so young.
8 ways to make Christmas special with babies and toddlers
If you’re ready to brave some messes and chaos, here are 8 simple ways to make Christmas special with your littles. I’ve used them (and survived them!) with my own children and they’ve become our family traditions.
I know I said it would be messy. It will be. Make it simpler, though, by halving the recipe so you won’t need to make so many cookies together. Make a few for the process and the teaching experience, and enjoy your home-baked goodies with a Christmas movie.
This also will be messy. But it’s a fantastic reminder of your child’s creative ability at this particular Christmas. I’m so glad I bought wooden Christmas ornaments for my children to paint every year. Even though it drove me crazy to supervise the process.
Now that my son and daughter are school-aged, it’s fun to watch how their artistic talents have changed year by year.
Listen to Christmas music.
Teach your children your favorite Christmas songs. Play Christmas music while you’re driving around, sing it as lullabies at night. Your children will notice that the songs are different than songs from the rest of the year.
Use a wooden or plastic nativity scene that your children can play with. (My kids liked the Fisher-Price Little People nativity set.) Explain who all of the figures are and their parts in the Christmas story. Read the Bible together on Sundays and retell the Advent story week after week.
Spruce up storytime by reading Christmas stories all throughout December. Like Christmas music, your children will notice you’re reading different books. Most likely, you’ll get to memorize your child’s favorite Christmas stories once you’re asked to read them over and over and over.
Watch Christmas videos.
Choose Christmas videos that your young children would enjoy watching. (Use wise choices, depending on your child’s age and how you feel about Santa Claus.) Make the experience special by having a family movie night, complete with popcorn … or a Christmas cookie.
My own children loved watching Veggie Tales’ Saint Nicholas, The Crippled Lamb, and the entire Rankin/Bass collection – one year they preferred Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, the next year they preferred Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town.
Throw a birthday party for Jesus.
When my children were young and very excited about Christmas, we threw a birthday party for Jesus on Christmas Eve, complete with a birthday cake and simple party games, like Pin the Mary on a donkey or searching for the (fake) gold, frankincense and myrrh. They loved it.
See Christmas lights.
Whether you’re walking through your neighborhood or driving around town, go to see Christmas lights at night. Play Christmas music on the radio, bring along hot cocoa (if your children are old enough to drink it), and enjoy the oohs and aahs!
Enjoying it all
Even when Christmas with your littles is a messy and wild time, enjoy it. Soak in your children’s wonder. Delight in their delight. Kiss their sweet little faces as they drift off to sleep at night. Relax your expectations this Christmas and enjoy the extreme highs while enduring the extreme lows. Through it all, thank God for this precious gift of motherhood.
What have you done to make Christmas special with babies and toddlers? What has worked well for your family? What plans have backfired?
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