Since becoming a dad, I’ve found a renewed passion and excitement for Xmas. I’m not quite on the scale of Buddy the Elf – I’m yet to spread Christmas cheer by singing loud for all to hear, but I have considered buying a present for the missus, so, you know, I am somewhere on the scale.
This year is our second Christmas as a little family. Last Xmas, Toddler L – still named Baby L at the time – was a four-month old just embarking on the wonders of the festivities. She was basically a newborn who wasn’t even capable of sitting upright without support, so this year is likely to be hugely different.
Not only are we better prepared after a few mishaps last Xmas, but we now have a fully walking, chaos causing 16-month old toddler. Although she still won’t be able to remember this Xmas, she’ll at least be able to interact and get pleasure from what we do, rather than last year when she just lied around not doing much. Newborns, eh?!
For me, this is one of the most exciting things – I’m not that bothered about the festivities myself, but being able to watch it through her eyes will be pretty cool, particularly as we continue some of the Christmas family traditions we started in 2014.
But, a toddler brings its own complications, like continual observation so they don’t hurt themselves or endless entertainment so they don’t get bored. This is fine on a typical day, but Christmas Day includes additional preparations and pressure not associated with ‘normal’ days.
So, I’ve been thinking about how I can not only keep Toddler L entertained whilst we might be busy doing other stuff, but how I can turn her into my own little Christmas helper. After all, she is small, enjoys toys and has elfish features, so I reckon she’d make a pretty good little helper. Here’s a couple of ideas I’m planning on employing to involve and entertain her this Xmas:
Make Some Christmassy Tat
Ahh, arts and crafts. Is there anything better than sitting down with a well-behaved child, getting out some card, paint, glue, glitter and other tat, then watching in awe as they create a masterpiece worthy of a wall at the Tate Modern? Doesn’t that sound perfect?
Well, in my experience, this is rarely the reality. Instead, there’ll be glitter on the dog, play dough up the nose and paint on the sofa – and that’s just my contribution to the task. Despite the mess and stress, at least it keeps her entertained for an average 3 minutes 24 seconds and our home contents insurance ensures any mishaps can be covered!
Even though getting your craft on can be challenging, I’m still planning on having a few crafty sessions in the run up to the big day with the little one. Something I’m quite keen for us to do is decorate some baubles for the Christmas tree. The plan is to buy some plain baubles, then use porcelain paint to decorate them with a print from the little one’s hand, finger or foot.
Depending on how much chaos has been caused up to this point, we may also have a go at turning the prints into Xmassy characters with porcelain paint pens, for instance, making Rudolph’s face out of a footprint or Santa’s face out of an upside-down handprint. Whatever you choose and however you do it, making Christmas themed decorations should mean that your little one is entertained, your home looks (debatably) prettier and they will feel like they’ve helped you out.
Turn Your Kids Into Personal Shoppers
After nearly 10 years of being with the missus, I’m happy to admit that I struggle with what to buy her. If you add up all of the birthdays, anniversaries, Christmases and ‘just becauses’ during the time we’ve been together, it’s no surprise that I’m well and truly out of ideas.
So, this year, I’m wondering whether to try something else with the help of the sprog. What I’m considering is sticking Toddler L into the baby carrier, going into a few appropriate shops, then letting her choose what to buy. She can’t yet talk, but she communicates pretty well through pointing. So, my theory goes that she’ll happily point to all of the things which she things we should buy. After vetting her picks – probably on price – I’ll buy!
I can only see positives from this approach. Firstly, I have someone to blame if the missus doesn’t like the present – “Oh, I’m sorry, Toddler L helped me”. Secondly, knowing that it was chosen by the sprog, automatically adds a cute and sentimental factor to the purchase, meaning that the missus will then like it.
Thirdly, it gives Toddler L something to do and makes her useful whilst we’re out shopping, which can also be deemed quality daddy and daughter time. Finally, the sprog enjoys holding things, so she’ll more than happily carry what you give her whilst out shopping, freeing up my hand to most likely snack on some chocolate.
Embrace The Festive TV Schedule
I know some people are very anti-TV – “Oooh, my toddler is two-years old and has never watched the TV, I much prefer him to broaden his horizons through sensory play” – so maybe this idea isn’t for you. However, I’m very much in the camp that everything is fine with moderation, which includes screen time.
At Christmas, there’s so much festive stuff on the box, so I’m planning on embracing it with the little one. It’s not like we’re going watch 12-hours straight of TV – after all the sprog does still have two naps during the day – but I’m quite keen to introduce her to stuff I used to watch at Xmas. Not only will this help to entertain and stop her from doing stuff like pulling down the Christmas tree, but it will also add an element of nostalgia to watch things like The Snowman and Father Christmas together as a family.
And let’s be honest. Sometimes us parents just need a break. Yes, your little one might not be developing their fine motor skills as they’re vegging on the sofa in front of the Sky Movies Christmas channel, but so what? Wrapping Xmas presents when the toddler is pre-occupied with the television is infinitely better than when they are tearing at the wrapping paper or deep-throating the scissors.
I watched a lot of a TV as a kid and it’s not done me any harm. According to my mum, my favourite activity as a toddler was sitting naked in front of the TV watching darts. How’s that for a Christmassy image for you!
How do you entertain and include your little ones in things during the festive period? Is there anything you’re planning on doing differently this year based on what you learnt from last Xmas? Let me know below!