Managing Christmas with Multiple Small Childrenby Jodie Keith
Ahhh… Christmas: the most wonderful time of the year. Well, for some people. For those of us with multiple small children, Christmas can be stressful, demanding and tiresome. Here are my top tips on how to manage Christmas with multiple little demons. Oops, I mean multiple beautiful bundles of joy!
Turn down your expectations
I feel like this is the most important part to discuss – it’s so easy to get carried away with Christmas, and sometimes the pressure to ‘do everything’ can feel paramount. Social media is full of families doing hundreds of grottos, taking their children to expensive light shows or fancy events, spending thousands of pounds decking their houses top to toe in luxurious decorations with expensive matching outfits. Newsflash: you don’t HAVE to do all this. If you’re a parent with multiple small children, getting through the day with everyone fed, clean and clothed is an achievement within itself, so don’t add any more pressure on than you need to. If you want to go all out: go for it! Want to minimise your stress and do the bare minimum? That’s absolutely okay too. I promise you: your small children won’t care if you go to a light show or pop to the local garden centre to look at their displays.
Be as organised as possible
My absolute top tip for managing Christmas with small children: get organised as early as possible. Christmas isn’t just one day anymore – it’s a whole season. There are lots to do to prepare: from buying presents, to coordinating matching Christmas pyjamas and making arrangements to see all your family and friends. I highly recommend making a to-do list as early as possible (even a few months before so you can spread the load!) and trying to tick off a few items a week. If you leave it all until the week before, your stress levels are bound to explode, so help yourself by tackling it little and often.
This comes with being organised, but if you have multiple small children it’s easy to get confused with whose is what – so label everything! From presents to stocking fillers, sweet treats to clothes – label, label, label!
If you have a partner, older children or other family members, then see what jobs you can delegate to them to help you manage the load of Christmas. Could your older children wrap the presents up (even if you have to bribe them with pocket money or a takeaway?). Could you give your partner a list of what to buy and ask them to pop to the shops for you whilst you have a much needed de-stress in the bath once the children are asleep?
Shop the sales throughout the year
Another top tip to manage Christmas with multiple small children is to never stop Christmas shopping. I know it feels like a sense of relief when you buy that final Christmas present, but hear me out. If you’re buying Christmas presents all year round, you’ll have a lot less to do in December! Take advantage of the seasonal sales or reduced to clear sales – your wallet will thank you for it and so will your future self when you realise that you’ve already got most of your shopping done pre December. Winning.
I’m going to state the obvious a little bit here, but a sure-fire way to manage Christmas with multiple small children is to enlist the help of those around you for childcare. Whether it’s leaning on your children’s normal nursery routines, asking family members to help out or even enlisting a local babysitter, anything will help. If you’re able to get childcare over the festive period, even if just for an hour or two whilst a grandparent takes them on a winter stroll, then do… and treat yourself to a nice big cup of mulled wine as a reward! Christmas is for YOU to enjoy too!
Utilise evenings and naptimes
If childcare isn’t an option, then to manage the Christmas load you’ll want to utilise your evenings and naptimes when the children are asleep. Many shopping centres and high streets have extended Christmas shopping hours – if you have a partner who can stay home to watch the children, then you can utilise these opening hours to get your Christmas shopping done without children running around your ankles and pulling things off the shelves. Bliss. Evenings are also YOUR time to enjoy Christmas however you most want to. Whether you craft the night away or watch Love Actually and cry into a hot chocolate, it’s important to enjoy the magic of Christmas however you want to – it’s not all about the children!
Get the children involved!
If you’re a parent or caregiver, one of the easiest ways to get take some of the stress off your to-do list at Christmas is to get the children involved! Here are a few ideas:
- Ask your children to colour plain paper and cut them into gift tags. If they’re old enough, they can help you write them, too! Gift tags: DONE.
- Turn cards into a craft activity - you don't have to worry about buying any cards and the recipients will MUCH prefer a handmade card such as a handprint reindeer card - they make lovely keepsakes, kill an hour or so and get a job ticked off your to-do list!
- Put a large roll of plain white paper on the floor with an assortment of pens, pencils or if you’re feeling brave, paint. If your children are anything like mine, the opportunity to do lots of scribbles all over the floor is extremely inviting, and pretty much guaranteed to give you the time for a hot cup of coffee. Once they’ve finished colouring, use the paper as wrapping paper. Wrapping paper? Tick!
- If your children are old enough to use scissors, name them chief tape and wrapping paper cutter and let them help you whilst you wrap presents. Children love to feel involved, and they love being tasked with a job that will give them a sense of achievement, so allowing them to use the scissors (closely supervised, of course!), is bound to excite them whilst you can tick off one of the biggest parts of managing Christmas: wrapping presents!
- Prepping the food on Christmas Eve or Christmas Morning can be a family affair, too! Closely supervised, small children can use age-appropriate utensils to help prep – think trimming the ends off green beans or mixing stuffing balls.
There we have it! I hope these tips help you manage Christmas with multiple small children. Remember: Christmas is supposed to be magical, not stressful, and it is absolutely okay to ask for help. Merry Christmas!