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Less is More This Holiday Season

Hello <<First Name>>

Welcome back to Toddler-land! I hope your Thanksgiving celebration, large or small, was pleasurable. As we now head into the heart of the holiday season with its decorated store windows and colorful lights, I want to help you create a joyful time for connecting with friends, family and most importantly—your young ones.
Even as my children get older, I still get both excited and anxious as the holiday season goes into full swing. While I love the sights, sounds and delicious smells of the holidays, I can easily be swept away by our cultural pitch to buy more, do more, give, give, give and go, go, go. If long gift lists and to-dos similarly elevate your stress level and detract from your ability to have fun (which is the whole point of the season!), take a deep breath and remind yourself that having the most elaborate decorations, baking dozens of cookies and finding the perfect gifts for everyone on your list is NOT what your toddler wants or needs most. Rather, positive and lasting memories are made for your toddler when you slow down and focus on making loving connections and sharing intimate and often very simple moments.
In my 3-part series on enjoying the holidays, I will share what I’ve learned as a parent and a professional working with families to make this festive time of year a win-win for everyone.

WHAT YOU CAN DO THIS HOLIDAY SEASON: Do Less! The most joyful part of the holidays for your toddler is spending time with you. All the extras are just that—extra!

Keep it simpler. There is so much to see and do, but if you take on too much with your readily excitable and impulsive toddler, your efforts will likely backfire.

Try This: Rather than visiting countless relatives and friends, shopping for long stretches of time and spending hours in the kitchen baking, set simpler holiday goals. The less you set out to do, the more you and your child will actually enjoy.

Visit Less. I know that feeling of being out of town and wanting to introduce your toddler to large groups of overjoyed family members who either haven’t yet met or seen your child since last year. The first time I traveled back home to Cleveland with my then-toddler, it was a near-disaster. I learned very quickly (and the hard way) that a toddler who is dragged from place to place and paraded in front of countless, well-meaning family members will most definitely meltdown. It’s simply too much!

Try This: Do your best to simplify plans so your toddler doesn’t get overwhelmed. If you are spending the holidays out of town, set a goal to visit no more than two destinations and two small groups of people in a day. Even this can trigger a meltdown and if it does, consider inviting friends and family over to your place (hotel, VRBO, relative’s home) so your toddler doesn’t have to travel at all. This scenario is much simpler and easier on your child, and might even allow for a mid-day nap.

Let go of perfection. This one sounds so simple and yet it can be challenging for many parents, most of who just want to give their child a wonderful experience. The problem with chasing perfection is that it’s nearly impossible and also, your toddler will become a sponge for your anxiety and then mimic your frantic mood. Watch out!

Try This: I discovered over the years that when you bring your expectations into line with the reality that you’re now a parent of a toddler or even multiple children, letting go of perfection becomes an easier way to live for everyone involved. You will also likely discover that “good-enough” is still fully enjoyable to your child.

Less really equals more connection, positive memories and laughter your child. I’d love to hear how simplicity will play into your holiday schedule this year. What do you do to make lasting memories? Share it with me on Facebook or Twitter.

For more toddler insight, visit HOW TODDLERS THRIVE and feel free to share what you've read here with other parents on the playground!

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