Let’s face it, Christmas just isn’t Christmas without your kids around. Sure, grown-up Christmases probably involve a lot more booze, the excitement and anticipation of children on Christmas morning brings so much more magical to the most wonderful time of year.
I would probably say that our Christmas was exactly that. Until Robyn steals Olivia’s Christmas present and neither of them wants to share the new Happyland set we bought for them both and sprouts are refusing to be eaten.
Yes, Christmas with little ones can be full of magic but it can also be mega stressful. Avoid the nightmare before Christmas next year by having a look at some of my survival tips for getting through the festive season with small children.
This is what we did for the first time this year and let me tell you, it was amazing. We normally spend Christmas Day with family but with the girls getting older now we didn’t think it was far to drag them out and not allow them to play with their new toys. It was so nice to have first Christmases all together in our home environment. If you take my advice you’ll plan to hibernate next Christmas. It will avoid a whole bunch of travel stress, even if it’s 10 minutes down the road.
Forget the picture-perfect families Christmas you see in films and on Christmas cards, a real family Christmas is loud, colourful, chaotic, and fun. If you stress out, your little ones will sense it and turn into little moody monsters too.
So, if your house needs to look like the warehouse at Toy R’ Us for a few days then so be it. If anything, open as many toys as possible. This way, you get rid of any unwanted mess and let your kids can play away to their heart’s content. We went crazy with Early Learning Centre’s Happyland playsets this year so our living room looked like a model village by the end of the day. If I’m being honest, it still does. With a Fantasy Palace, A Pirate Ship, Pirate Cave, Farm and all the Kings, Queen and Knights fighting dragons, they will be entertained for a long time yet.
Plan some Christmas Activities.
We joined the Elf on a shelf Craze this year. So for 24 days in December, we had a very naughty, mischievous elf running around our house getting up all sorts. Much to the amusement of our three years old.
We called him ‘Sid’. If you haven’t already please venture over to my Instagram page and have a look at all his antics while he was with us. Search for the Hashtag #SidTheChristmasElf
This created some real fun and excitement in the run-up to Christmas which had our girls asking the same question every morning ‘Where will Mr Elf be today?’
There was plenty of Christmas baking too. Plenty of Christmas cupcakes, coloured chocolate and rocky road. Nom, Nom. I would say I’ll be starting my gym membership back up again after Christmas but I can’t see that happening.
Get out and about.
As well as plenty of indoor fun, it’s also nice to get out of the house and check out the local Christmas experiences and activity that are around you.
Over the month of December, we attended a few different Christmas events around Leeds and Yorkshire. With Olivia getting older now, this was the first year she really knew what was going on and the first year she ‘believed’. So we thought it was important to make more of an effort and make this year a little extra magical for her. Hopefully, her believing will go on for a long time.
We decided to head up to Lotherton Hall and check out there Christmas experience and the latest addition to the wildlife world, the Humboldt penguins. We’d been to the Christmas experience last year and we absolutely love it so we were very excited to see that this year had in store.
The woodland walk takes you down a twinkling lit path, through the Captains Woods and around the grounds. The walk is obviously related to the 12 days of Christmas and each stop has a little interactive station that kids can get involved in. From make the turtle doves fly to walking through the five gold rings. You can get the ladies to dance and even be one of the drummers drumming.
The wildlife world at Lotherton is already an amazing place and home to many different types of birds. So when we heard that the Humboldt Penguins were the newest residents, it was only a matter of time before we had to go and say hello.
Panto just IS Christmas. Oh no, it isn’t! To get us well and truly into the spirit of Christmas we decided to take the girls to the pantomime and where better to take them than Leeds City Varieties Music Hall. This years performance was Aladdin – The Rock ‘N’ Roll Panto.
This was the first year that we’d all been together as four. Rachel took Olivia to see Cinderella last year which was at the same venue and she absolutely loved it. So it wasn’t a case of ‘If’ we were going to go this year it was more a question of ‘when’, and with Robyn been a little mover and shaker that she is we both knew she’d love all the music, singing and dancing.
In years gone by I’ve been known to be a bit of a grinch around Christmas time, before having children obviously. I think working in retail has done it to me. It’s forced upon you from the beginning of September so by the time December comes around you’re almost numb to it. However, Olivia is getting older now and more aware of Santa, Rudolph, and what happens at Christmas so it more important this year to go the extra mile.
Yorkshire Wildlife Park and Star Wars | The Last Jedi
With my birthday also been in December we always try to do something as a family. This year we opted for the Yorkshire Wildlife Park near Doncaster. We have been on a few occasions and have loved it every single time. However, this time was a bit of bust. It was raining cats and dogs and the wind was biting cold. So much so that it actually hurt my face. Even the animal court into the fact they’d be warmer inside. The only animal we saw was a single meerkat. Luckily this was the one animal Olivia was desperate to see so all wasn’t lost.
However, all wasn’t lost. We still had out annual screening of Star Wars to attend. As you can see from the photo above, Rachel was clearly over with excitement at the thought of two and a half hour of Star Wars. She is currently in a deep depression as she thought The last Jedi meant it was the last film. I took great pleasure in telling her she has Episode IX and The Han Solo film to look forward to.
‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there
Olivia is now three and this is the year that she has really believed in Santa, Rudolph and everything associated with Christmas. It’s been the most magical Christmas yet. I can’t wait for Christmas 2018. Only 359 days to go.