Rhythm & Rituals
The secret ingredients for a Merry Christmas for you and your little one
Short holidays, like the upcoming winter break, can be a welcome change from routine, particularly when the weather is cold and damp. But it’s so easy to let Christmas become an over-stimulating experience for the children in your life.
We want so much to please our little ones, and at the same time, we have other family to please too – grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. It can be quite overwhelming even for us as adults. So how can we make it less so for the youngest members of the family?
The routine that we might sometimes wish to be free of is important to little ones. Doing some things in the same way each day creates anchor points on which the child can rely, allowing them to navigate their way through the less reliable or recognisable moments. Losing all sense of rhythm to the days can be frightening when you’re just starting to learn about the world around you.
It comes down to keeping some key anchor points in the day. And if that’s not possible, keeping a rhythm to the way we do certain things will definitely help. Here are some examples.
If your child still takes naps, helping them to take that break from the day’s activities, thereby keeping their energy levels up, will really pay off. If you’re at home, plan your day around nap time, making sure that visitors know you’ll be taking time out to support your little one to rest. And keep the night-time routines that you've already established. Once the holiday is over, you won't want to start all over again.
When you’re out visiting, try to honour nap times. A walk with a stroller or use of a spare bedroom might work. Most people will understand if you make this a priority.
I don’t know about you, but in our family, Christmas mealtimes get moved all over the place! It may be due to late mornings or late nights, but the usual mealtimes can be completely forgotten.
Regular meals with familiar foods are still important at Christmas. Remember, young children's stomachs are still small. You may have had plenty to eat, but don't forget to help your child eat regularly.
This happens several times a day, every day. These times of togetherness are intimate care moments. Taking time away from the busyness and hubbub to change a nappy in peace, could be the highlight of the day.
When this daily rhythmic activity is also given its own rhythm – always undressing left arm, left leg, right leg, right arm, for example – the child knows what to expect and can cooperate, becoming a partner in their care.
An added side-effect of this approach is that by the end of this time spent together, you will both be feeling really connected and ready to move on to the next activity. Recognising that little ones have this need for rhythm, whatever else is happening around them, can really help you all to enjoy this sometimes hectic time of year.
I hope you've found this useful and that you have a peaceful Christmas time.