This blog still rings true this time of year and I wanted to share it once again for any of you that might need a little help navigating the holidays with your toddler. The holidays are a stressful time for many, of course joyous as well, but too often the stress can overpower and overshadow everything else! On top of that, throw having 1 or two toddlers around, and it can be a recipe for burnout! So today I’ve asked Dr. Allana Polo of Polo Health to take over the blog to share a few of her top tips for navigating the holidays, as stress-free, as possible this year!!! So I’ll let her take it from here!
1. You can’t do it all, and do it all well! You can try, but you’ll burn out fast (which, we will get to next!) and be of no good to yourself, family and loved ones. As much as the holidays come as a busy time where we try to have it all together, shop, cook, clean, wrap gifts etc, something has to give. I recommend making a list, in order of priority. What needs to get done now, and what can wait. Is there something you can outsource? Is there something you can delegate? A lot of women struggle to ask for help. It is not a sign of weakness, so throw that notion away! In fact, it is a sign of strength being able to recognize your limits and capacity, and delegate some tasks onto others who you can rely on and count on. Something I live my life by is taking my core values of ‘ Work, Family, Friends, Sleep and Fitness’ and rotating 3 of those on a daily where I prioritize them and give them my energy and focus. I can’t focus on all of them daily, but I certainly can weekly, and re-prioritize where I am at and how I am feeling week by week.
2. Burnout is real, and now considered a Medical diagnosis by the WHO. Women are struggling to hold it all together financially, personally and professionally. Women are working at home, having a hard time setting boundaries between work and family life, and that blur is affecting our energy levels and ability to perform all our tasks… household included. Become good at saying ‘NO’, and not feeling the need to explain why. Spend your time on who and what brings you joy, you don’t have the time or energy for anything extra that doesn’t serve you. Ask for help and support, set your boundaries, and prioritize what needs to be done now, and what can wait. A lot of the pressure we feel is put on ourselves. I promise you, the laundry and dishes can wait. Spend the time with your loved ones, your toddlers who need you, and be present in the moment.
3. Alternatives to screen time. I know a lot of us parents are struggling with this one right now, out of sheer necessity, screens are at an all time high. We know this isn’t ideal for our little ones, so I offer a few screen free alternatives that can help get you through the holidays. Get creative. Arts and Craft projects, colouring, painting, making homemade playdough can all be fun activities the kids will enjoy. Get them involved in baking and cooking, a very important one on my list! Getting kids involved in the kitchen and around food helps deal with picky eaters, and enhances their ability for food exploration. They will be more likely to try new things and welcome healthy options if they are involved in cooking and creating the final product. Baking and then decorating gingerbread men was a huge hit in our house last week! And took up 2 hours of time that was spent bonding, laughing and again being present. You can also help organize drawers with your kids, sort through their closet together and tidy places that you’ve been putting off. Lastly, get outside, go to the forest or the beach, let them run and explore while getting fresh air and exercise. Everyone will be better off with a little movement and Vitamin D.
4. Bend the routines a bit. I am not saying get rid of early bedtimes and nap times all together, but I am saying being a little bit flexible may enhance your holiday experience. We know the alternative of throwing routines away completely can lead to cranky tantrums at the drop of a dime, but there is a bit less pressure and stress on you, the mama, if you aren’t set to an exact schedule every day. In fact, having a bit less structure and more free play and free time for the kids can be positive for everyone, them included. Kids are so scheduled already, I try to encourage pajama days, and breakfast for dinner as much as I can to help break that cycle.
5. Lastly, don’t forget your kids are intuitive energetic beings. They pick up on everything going on around them, so if you are feeling overly stressed, overwhelmed and potentially arguing more with your partner, keep it in check when around your little ones. I’m not saying to ignore it, or sweep it under the rug, but they pick up on everything and, so being mindful of that is worth mentioning. I understand there is a lot going on, and it is stressful to be home cooped up over the holidays with minimal things to do, places to go and family you would love to otherwise see. Find human connection in other ways, schedule those zoom dates and Facetime dates with your family, so everyone can have some wonderful family time together!
Hope these tips are helpful! Enjoy the holidays with those little ones, and your family! Sending you all love, and wishing everyone a very happy holiday season
Xo. Dr. Allana Polo