I must admit, the hardest part about the holidays for me, the part I honestly dread the most is the visit to family. It isn’t that I don’t enjoy family, but it is the inevitable meltdown that comes from a change in routine. There is so much food, fun, and laughter, why should my littles ever have a meltdown? Enevatibally it happens, and the day goes from tense to nightmare. I’m putting a plan in place. Here is my How to Prevent Melt Downs During Holiday Visits.
What causes meltdowns?
This is always been a big question for me. I could never pinpoint what exactly the problem was until recently. My 21-month-old didn’t take a nap like normal. Instead, he was running around the house like a wild man. He was jumping off of furniture and taking seriously the idea of trying to kill me with a heart attack. It was this incident that, I realized it was once again the lack of Quiet Time that changed everything.
My 3-year-old is the same way. If she doesn’t get a nap, she cries over everything, especially when someone tells her no. She can go from the calm, beautifully playing little girl to a drama queen. When she has her meltdown it is long and loud. Her point being that if she doesn’t get her way she will make everyone else miserable. This is when I send her to her room and she is to lay on her bed.
How to Prevent Meltdowns During Holiday Visits
The easy answer is to stick to your Routine. The realistic answer is to alter your routines to fit what is going on. Just one more thing to think about right? Yes, but this one thing could help change your holiday from a total nightmare to something you actually enjoy.
None of these things are hard, but they do take some preparation. They also take some communication with your spouse and family. There may be some conflict, but as I said in Do Your Own Thing, it doesn’t matter. You have to do what is best for you and your family.
If you are in a small house, this holiday could be very difficult. My parents live in a small house, and when you add 18 people to that space it is crowded, loud and stressful. Now if the weather is nice, the kids could always go outside and play. I remember as a little girl being sent outside to play when we were visiting my grandparents for Thanksgiving. It was so nice to have a place to go that isn’t under foot and the constant talking adults.
My husband and I take turns doing this. When we go to my parents’ house, he takes them out. Then we are at his parent’s’ house, I take them out. This gives each of us time to spend with our respective families and allows the children time to chill. Now that I have teenagers, they enjoy being the ones to get a break from everything. This also allows the children to use up some of their energy.
Leave the house
There is always something missing for the meal. Be the one to volunteer to run the errand. You can take the children who need the break the most. This also gives them one on one time with mom.
If something isn’t needed, make up a reason to leave. Just being able to walk out of the house with a purpose is a good thing. The house is still crowded and now hot with the oven going. Just stepping away can help you and your child recenter.
Now that there are sales on Thanksgiving, you can use that as a reason to get out.
Bring things to do
Depending on your children’s age, you could bring their favorite game to play. My 3-year-old has a version of Candy Land that she loves. She is constantly asking for someone to play it with her. This is the perfect time to bring out those “annoying” games and fulfill those desires to play with Mama. She also loves crafts. This is a great time to do all of those fun and messy crafts that you have been putting off.
My 21-month-old has puzzles he loves to build. He also loves to color and draw. Make sure to have plenty of supplies for him, and be prepared to do it with them. He also has blocks that he loves to build and knock down.
For my older children, they always bring a book, a favorite board game, and a way to play some video games.
Watch a new Movie
My children enjoy watching movies. During this time of the year, I always pick up 1 or 2 new Christmas movies. They start on them right after we are done eating and my husband will approve of Christmas. He and my oldest son can be scrooges.
This doesn’t have to be a Christmas movie, you could bring their favorite movie to share with their cousins. The whole point of this is to give a change of pace, to allow all the turkey they ate to settle on their stomachs and start to make them sleepy.
Enforced Quiet Time
This may be hard if the other family members aren’t on board, but for my family it is vital. My kids need their Quiet Time. My youngest 2 will take a nap, and my teens are more than happy to help them take that nap. If you don’t have teens to help you, then do it yourself. You won’t regret the time away to relax and chill.
This is when my older children will either play a board game or read a book. We are a family who loves board games, so much so that Santa brings us a new one every year.
You will also find this is the time that either the adults take a nap or talk. With nothing else to do, a nap sounds really good.
Be willing to go home
I know that not everyone has the ability to do this. Some live far away from family. We live about 5 minutes from my parent’s house and are able to go home.
While this doesn’t make my parents happy, sometimes it is what we have to do. I used to feel guilty about it and try to stick it out, but not anymore. I have to do what is best for me and my children. Sometimes the only thing that will make things better is for them to go home to their own environment.
Find a Christmas Activity to do
My in-laws live near Indianapolis, and on Black Friday they light the downtown up. It is really beautiful and a fun time. While we have never gone downtown for celebration, we have gone through afterward.
Go ice skating.
Check out the latest Christmas movie playing in the movie theaters. One of our favorite holidays was going to see the Polar Express in the movie theater with the whole family.
Start mixing up Christmas cookies. So maybe you bake a few and then you eat them.
Build a gingerbread house.
Put up the Christmas tree, unless you have a husband that refuse to have a fake tree in the house.
Start playing Christmas music.
Nothing is going to be the perfect solution for every family. While some things work for some of my children, for others nothing works and we have to go home.
The key is to pay close attention to your children. Know their moods and try to catch things before they get bad. That is the only TRUE way to stop a meltdown.
Good luck, Mamas! May the turkey not be dry and the children take a nap so you can have a break. While the men are either watching football or sleeping off all of the food they ate.