Keeping children happy and settled over the festive period means a stress free Christmas for everyone. Kristen Harding, Childcare Expert at Tinies Childcare shares some useful advice and tips to get you through those stressful moments when they occur.

And breathe!

So one of my favourite times of the year is Christmas, but we all know with children and having family around it can be a little bit chaotic and some parents may find it very stressful. The most important tip is to relax as children pick up on your anxieties!

Burn off excess energy

Use the Christmas break as an excuse to start the day with a lovely family breakfast and with no school to occupy the kids they will have more energy than they know what to do with so it is always a good idea to factor some exercise with a daily family stroll or trip to the park.

Let the kids help

Make your children feel part of the Christmas proceedings.  It’s a wonderful time to get the children involved so let them help you lay the table even if it means reorganising it afterwards, they like to feel part of it all.  Also you can prepare activities for them like arts and crafts getting them to make Christmas cards, paper dolls, paper snow-flakes, you can buy plain baubles and get them to decorate them, anything that gives them a sense of ownership they will love.

Prepare for present-giving time

Remember Christmas is all about children and also all about the presents! If you’re spending the 25th with relatives, who also have children, it can be difficult as your traditions and gift giving will naturally differ.  If you are a family who usually opens gifts one at a time, let your children open gifts at the same time as their cousins (for example) so that their attention is focused on what they have been given, rather than what they have not.

Keeping children happy at Christmas

Do a little damage control

Spend time with your children over each gift and talk about the stories and love that went into choosing them so they really appreciate it.  If you are concerned about how much other people are spending on your children, have a discussion with them beforehand and set a limit on how much to spend on each other’s children. You won’t be able to stop them from spoiling their children but you might be able to contain the situation.

Stick to a routine

When it comes to childcare, it’s all about planning and trying to keep a little routine.  Knowing when your family or friends are coming and preparing your children for their arrival will help control the excitement and help you keep track of where everyone needs to be.  Keep to a routine as best you can.  Of course things are going to be very exciting for both adults and children alike over the festive season but make sure (where possible) they stick to their daily routine of eating and sleeping at certain times.

Don’t try to go it alone

Don’t try to do too much; it will only lead to a very grumpy little one!  If you are having a LOT of family and friends round or holding a big Christmas party, thinking about hiring a mobile crèche, or an extra set of hands, where you can get professional childcare experts to come in and entertain the children while you are busy partying.  This will also go down really well with your family and friends who have their own children as they won’t need to worry about having a babysitter and their children will feel more involved in the fun. Visit www.tiniescreches.com for more information.

Keeping children happy at Christmas

Prepare a babysitting backup

If you’re going out to a Christmas party and your babysitter lets you down, or just fancy having a stress-free, children-free Christmas shop, Emergency Childcare can provide you with a nanny or childminder at very short notice.

It’s OK to say NO!

Christmas is all about downtime, presents, chocolate and movie marathons! Don’t stress too much over the junk food, but remember it is OK to say no and to limit the intake of chocolate and other treats. To balance the sugar rush, make an effort to leave the house and get some exercise as a family, and when you do have control over the meal planning make sure there are healthy options available.

Remove temptation

Don’t leave the tempting treats lying around at eye level, or within the reach of little fingers. When out and about, say yes to treats – but not all the time. Lead by example! Sugar will only make an excitable child even more hyperactive and therefore more difficult to control! Make sure you treat them when they deserve it and don’t let them over-indulge TOO much.  Whilst it is Christmas, your life will be a little easier if you stick to your guns and keep some semblance of your usual routines and structure.

About the author: Kristen Harding works for Tinies, a leading childcare specialist, with over 30 years’ experience helping families, nurseries and other childcare settings find the right childcare professionals to suit their needs; from nannies to maternity nannies, nursery staff to event nannies and everything in-between.