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Holiday Planning with Small People


Ah. It’s here. The beginning of the craziest time of the year. Without taking a formal poll, I’m just going to assume that the holidays are pretty nuts for almost everyone. Between cooking, driving, flying, cleaning, wrapping, setting up, putting away, decorating, shopping and everything else you’re required to do to be a functioning person, it’s pure madness.

This is especially true if you also are in charge of keeping alive two tiny humans. Kids seem to up the ante. I used to stress about making delicious dishes that would make Martha proud, but now it’s all about survival. Like, what can I not screw up in the event that the children revolt and the world goes to hell that day?

I got to thinking today just how different my holiday planning is from what it was just three years ago. My, my, my.

  1. Planning the food. What used to be decided just a few days before the holiday is now planned out about a month in advance. And I now only volunteer to make items that can be made ahead of time and can be served cold-ish: desserts and breads. I did the shopping for these items a week and a half ago. I’ve experienced too many panicked trips to the grocery store the day before a holiday to just wing it anymore. Plus, having two small children hasn’t made my brain any sharper. (Even after all of this careful planning, how many ingredients have I discovered to have forgotten for Thursday’s festivities? Two.)

  2. Clothing. Remember the days of just dressing yourself in something cute that was clean? Unless I make a preconceived, conscious effort to plan what my kids are going to wear to an event, without fail, they will ALWAYS have nothing but pajamas clean. I started planning and hiding potential outfits in the back of their closets two weeks ago to ensure they’d be clean and ready to wear. They will not put them on until precisely two minutes before we walk out the door.

  3. Altering the nap schedule. We have two places to visit for every major holiday: my family in Kansas City and my husband’s family in Topeka. The distance isn’t bad when we’re just visiting one side for occasional trips, but when you combine the two, it makes for a long day of visiting. Our kiddos still very much need a nap so we have to plan our day so that they can nap in the car. Sometimes this means leaving a little early and driving around like creepy people in random housing developments or parking in a random parking lot and playing on our phones while they sleep.

  4. Synchronizing the meal dance. Once we’re at our destination and the food is served, it’s game on. My husband and I have to strategically plan this out so that we’re able to not only make sure HJ and B eat, but also get something to eat ourselves while simultaneously keeping up conversation with family. This doesn’t sound like a major feat, but imagine that HJ and B are tiny monkeys that are overstimulated by sugar that their aunt snuck them when we weren’t looking. They pull everything off the table, grab at drinks, sharp objects, and drop food all over the just cleaned floor. Head on a swivel...always.

  5. Packing up. Good Lord. Does it not always feel as if you’ve moved into to someone’s house when you bring small children with you? I swear it takes us 30 minutes to pack up our belongings into the car and get out of there. And that’s only if we don’t have to deal with a meltdown when we pry them from the candy dish or toy stash to get out the door. That being said, we ALWAYS leave something behind.

How have you had to change your holiday habits after kids?

Aaron and HJ in our rookie days

Aaron and HJ in our rookie days by Megan Spreer


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