Thanksgiving marks the beginning of the holiday season, which while exciting and beautiful and fun, can also bring on the stress. There’s family, and traveling, and the pressure to make everything perfect for the kids so the memories will be magical. Here are some things to keep in mind to keep Thanksgiving, even with kids, stress-free– and hopefully the rest of the holiday season too.
Plan, but keep it simple. A certain amount of planning can help you be prepared and feel calmer about what’s to come because you know what you can expect and know you won’t forget anything. But don’t feel like you need to plan big, elaborate things. Plan simple things. For example, keep the meal classic and elegant, or if you’re into cooking throw in one or two fun, new recipes but keep everything else low key. Or, invite over the big group if being together on the holiday is important to you, but ask everyone to bring something so you don’t need to handle all the details.
Have kid-friendly snacks and activities ready at all times. We can get so caught up in the big feast that we focus all our time and attention to it, but don’t forget that the kids will need snacks throughout the day. It will make it easier on you to have snacks on hand for them t0 eat as they want them– don’t worry about spoiling their appetite, you’ll all be happier if you avoid meltdowns even if it means they eat less of the Thanksgiving meal. Prep some things they like beforehand that are healthy and easy for them to eat by themselves so you won’t have to be cutting up snacks while you’re in the middle of making the stuffing. Also beforehand, set aside certain exciting or new activities somewhere they can reach them and use them while being out of the way but still close enough that you can keep an eye on them. This way you can keep them out of the kitchen but and not whining of boredom.
Be clear about your needs. One of the most stressful parts of the holidays is feeling like you need to do everything for everyone. Don’t try so hard to please everyone else that you end up not able to enjoy yourself. When you have young kids you’re allowed to say that you don’t want to travel a lot for holidays. Or if you’ve always done one meal with your family and one with your husband’s but it would make life a lot easier to only do one, invite them all over together. Be honest about what will make it as easy as possible for you and your children and try to make plans around that. Your extended family and friends will be a little more flexible for you at this already chaotic time in your life, as long as you make your needs known.
Reset your mindset. Remember, a lot of your experience depends on your mindset. If you psych yourself up about how crazy and stressful the holiday will be, it probably will live up to your expectations. If you go into it determined to stay cool as a cucumber, and keep reminding yourself that it is all about fun and family and nothing else truly matters, you’re more likely to enjoy yourself and not let the stress build up.
Yes, holidays with young kids can be way more work than you ever thought possible, but kids also can make it so much more worth it than it ever seemed before. You’re making memories for your children and they’re going to have a great time as long as it’s all about family, friends, food, and fun, and really that’s all that matters.