Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Holiday Excitement Can Equal Cranky Kids

I am the world’s worst at revving up my children during the holiday season. Yes, it is not even December 1, and we are already decorated for Christmas. The house is lit up like “Christmas Vacation,” holiday music is playing 24/7, and the stockings are already hung by the chimney with care…you get the picture. It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas at our house, and we still have 25 days to go until the big day.

So what does this mean for my four year-old? Well, it means she is already in holiday orbit and every bit as excited as her mama!

This also means it is getting harder to settle her down for bedtime and keep her (somewhat) calm throughout the day. How do you manage your kids and their schedules during the the holidays, but still keep that spirit of the season?

Here are some tips on how to balance being full of holiday cheer, while keeping bedtime battles and holiday sugar highs at bay:

• Schedule holiday parties and plans when the kids are well rested. Try not to interrupt naptimes and bedtimes.

• If the holidays mean you must travel and be away from your home, then try to keep mealtimes and bedtimes as close to your schedule as possible. You may not be able to control where your little one sleeps, but you can control what time they go down for bed at night.

• Don’t go overboard. Children like simplicity, so instead of doing three holiday crafts, baking Christmas cookies and visiting Santa all in one weekend, just choose one holiday activity to do as a family. It will mean more to your child (and to you) if you have one special event or activity to focus on at a time. Too many new and exciting experiences can make children overwhelmed, thus leading to a meltdown.

• While holiday treats certainly are a fun part of the season, limit cookies and candies. Too much sugar contributes to children having a tough time settling down at night. When several holiday treats are offered to your kids in a single day, have them select one and tell them to either save the rest for another day or give the treat to a friend or family member. This is an excellent way to eliminate too many treats, as well as reinforce the importance of giving to others, instead of always receiving.

• Keep your stress level in check. Remember that children are very much affected by their parent’s stress levels. If holiday activities become too much for you and you can feel your stress level rising, then it’s time to take a step back and look at your schedule and to-do list. Determine what you can eliminate from it to make the holiday season more enjoyable for everyone.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas...Card!

It’s that time of year again…time to prepare for the (often dreaded) family photo for the annual Christmas card!

Something that should be fun and easy is oftentimes very stressful... your kids won’t cooperate, your husband is complaining about having to smile on cue, and you are thinking to yourself, "Why do I put myself through this every year?"

Hopefully this year will be different! Here are some tips to help your Christmas card photo session go well!

- Don’t be above bribery!
Come armed to the photo session with snacks, lollipops and bubbles…anything to get your kids through the shoot while keeping a smile on their faces!

- Keep the weather in mind.
Sometimes you may have the perfect outfits picked out, but if you are doing an outside photo session and it is terribly cold that day, it might be time to ditch the cute, coordinated outfits and go with something warmer, like coats, gloves and toboggans. A happy child in a winter coat is better than a teary one who is cold!

- Bring a helper.
Consider bringing grandma or a favorite baby-sitter who get the kids’ attentions during a family photo or can play with one child while the other one is getting photographed. An extra set of hands can alsofix collars, flyaway hairs and clothes once you are all posed.

- Less is more.
The family itself should be the focal point of the card. If you try to incorporate too many props, your Christmas card may become too busy or can get “cheesy.” Just keep it simple for a beautiful holiday card that you’ll treasure for years to come.

- Don’t be afraid to be “candid.”
Sometimes it’s hard to capture a good photo of the entire family, especially when you have little ones who have trouble sitting still for more than a few seconds! Just interact with one another and leave it to your photographer to capture holiday magic. Candid pictures sometimes make more interesting holiday cards than posed ones anyways!

Have yourself a merry little Christmas card this holiday season!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Surviving the Doctor’s Office with your Kids

Cold and flu season is upon us (NOT AGAIN!), and one of the worst places to pick up germs is the waiting room at the doctor’s office. Both of my kids have well visits coming up, and it makes me want to cringe at the thought of taking them into the lion’s den (aka- the doctor’s office.)

I admit it. I can be somewhat of a germaphobe. What can I say? Besides, when the American Academy of Pediatrics states, “An office waiting room often presents opportunities for transmission of infectious diseases among patients,” well, I am going to listen and try my best to keep those germs at bay!

Here are some tips on how to reduce your child’s chances at catching an infection at your next well visit.

- If there is a “well section” at your doctor’s office, utilize it.

- Wash your children’s hands often during your well appointment with hand sanitizer. If you know your doctor’s office doesn’t have hand sanitizer available, carry your own hand sanitizer with you. When you get home, wash your child’s hands thoroughly with soap and water. This tip goes for parents, too! You could pick up germs while taking your kid to the doctor's office, too.

- Bring your own toys to occupy your kids in the waiting room. The toys in the waiting room are a germ cesspool. Also avoid toys and books once you are back in the exam room, too.

- If your child is compliant, have them hang out in their stroller while you wait to be called back to the exam room. This will help them to avoid germs on waiting room chairs.

- Try to get at least two chairs between you and someone who is coughing and sneezing. Flu droplets can travel!

- Avoid using bathrooms at the doctor’s office if possible. These bathrooms are packed full of germs.

I know germs are everywhere and your kids can pick up illnesses anywhere you go, but these tips will help you protect your kids as much as you can.

Here’s to a safe and healthy winter!