Managing Toddler Behavior During the Holidays

toddler behaviorBy Claire Westbrook, My Devising

As we approach the fun Christmas season, many of us find ourselves wrapped up in the chaos of our holiday schedule. Or maybe you’re staying home. If that’s the case, you may be avoiding all of this chaos. But if you’re traveling, whether an hour or a day-long car ride or a flight, things can be crazy.

This will only be my 3rd Christmas as a mom. I have a 2-year-old and it’s amazing how quickly the relaxing holidays can become full of stress. (I talked specifically about surviving the holidays with a newborn here if that’s closer to the phase you’re in.) When it comes to toddlers, it’s all about behavior. Duke’s behavior can either make or break how much I enjoy a certain situation. In my limited experience, I’ve found a few things to be true about managing toddler behavior when it’s not a typical day-to-day scenario.

SLEEP

When it comes to behavior, in my experience, I link it mainly to sleep. Sure, there are the occasional days of teething or sickness that can send a toddler into crazy land making us moms think, “Where did my sweet angel go?” But on a normal day, sleep is the bottom line. So when it comes to the holidays, I think this is the first place to go.

Honestly, you just can’t budge on it. If Duke, my son, doesn’t get his normal 12 hours of night sleep and at least 2 hours of nap time, he is a different person. He is whiny, defiant, and needy. So if it means I have to lug all of Duke’s essential nap gear to someone’s house so he can get a decent nap, then I will. If I have to leave places early to get him to bed at a decent hour, then I will. It’s worth the extra effort. When Duke is happy and well-rested, I am happy and well-rested.

DISCIPLINE/RULES

I think it’s best to keep rules the same, whether in my house or in someone else’s. If Duke can’t sit on our coffee table, he can’t sit on his Mimi’s either. I find that the more I let go of Duke’s structure, the crazier his behavior gets and more he tests me. Keeping it consistent and normal is best.

EATING

This is one area worth budging on. During the holidays, many times our eating schedules get a bit wonky. If your toddler is like mine, we have 3 meals a day at very normal times. But once the holidays hit, we’re faced with more brunch-ish hours for breakfast, late lunches, or early dinners. So when the kid is hungry, I pretty much let him eat.  Since everything is off, I can’t really expect his appetite to be the same as it is every other day. If you’re snacking throughout the day, then your toddler will probably want to as well.

What works for you? How do you maintain structure and manage your toddler’s behavior during the holiday chaos?

Claire is a stay-at-home mom to her 2-year-old son, Duke. She enjoys teaching piano lessons, songwriting, and blogging at My Devising.

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