7 Essential Hacks for Holidays With a Toddler


Last year our Thanksgiving dinner consisted of scrambled eggs at 10 p.m. after we finally got the baby to bed. We learned our lesson when it comes to managing kids at an already hectic family get-together. Please, allow me to share this knowledge with you so that, hopefully, you’ll get a forkful of turkey or two in between diaper changes and exhausted tantrums.

1. Let someone else do the cooking

Seriously, unless they want to babysit so you can baste, just take cooking duties off your plate until the kids are at least old enough to watch the entire Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade or zone out in front of the Yule Log for half a day.

2. Bring the paper plates

Yeah, we all hate that mom who gets to the class party sign-up sheet first and claims plates and soda. Be that mom. If you aren’t cooking at home, don’t cook to go out. Be the relative or friend who brings the plates and the pop. Feel guilty? Spring for the really nice plates, the heavy-duty ones with pretty designs on the edges. Or, bum a Club card off your friend and get the plastic wear that looks like real china at Sam’s or Costco. Who says quick can’t be classy?

3. Avoid the gin-soaked reminiscing

Don’t forget to get an extra bottle of Cranberry Ginger Ale for yourself, and stick to it. No one wants drunk mommy reminiscing about her Christmases or pre-baby figure past. And God knows you’ve worked hard enough during the year to keep your kids out of those obnoxious, ongoing family squabbles to blow it all now. Besides, if you’re anything like me you’ll fall asleep after your first sip of wine. Nothing is worse than being woken from slumber with a poke in the face from your little one, except maybe having to parent hung over the next day. (Pedialyte isn’t just for kids, you know.)

4. Let your kids eat what they want, within reason

No one wants little Tommy to puke all over his expensive new car seat on the way home, but a few extra cookies won’t kill him. These are the days you walk away from the picky eater food battles and let the kid eat nothing but mashed potatoes.

5. Stick to the bedtime routine

Chances are that no matter how much fun he thinks he’s having, your kid is really tired and needs to go to bed. On a day where pretty much everything from food to faces are going to be different, some level of routine is required to keep your child (and you) sane. Nothing is better to maintain than a sleep schedule—for his sake and yours.

6. Find a moment for yourself

It is far too easy to get lost in event management when you’re a parent. My favorite thing to do during any family holiday is to take a few minutes to walk away from the noise and find a quiet spot from which to observe and take it all in. Can’t exit the room? Pull out your phone and become the objective documentarian, getting some great snaps for those memory books.

And, most importantly:

7. Bring signs to stick on your plates if you have to leave the table

Ours will read: “If you want to help, please leave my food alone and come change a diaper.” After a year of holidays and parties at which “helpful” folks decided to clear my half-eaten plate for me, I’m truly tempted to bring a Ziploc or a padlock for my plate. Either way, mama’s getting a meal this year, whether her kid likes it or not!

Have wonderful holidays!