Tips for tiny tots

Don’t let your kids get the better of you this christmas.

By Donna Fleming

Having small children around makes Christmas extra special. Watching their faces when they see presents under the tree can make the stressful lead-up to the big day worthwhile.

But having littlies can also bring its own issues and, if you’re not careful, you can end up with very fractious youngsters and equally frazzled parents.

Here are some hints to help this Christmas Day run as smoothly as possible.

• Try to stick to a routine if you can. If your toddler misses their nap because they’re too busy playing with new toys, there could be hell to pay later.

• Remember that other people’s homes might not be child-proof. Keep a careful eye on your little one, especially around tree lights.

• Have a discreet word with people buying presents for your kids to make sure they’re age appropriate. It’s a guaranteed way to induce a tantrum if you have to take a gift off a two-year-old because it’s not suitable.

• Have rubbish bags ready to get rid of all packaging immediately. Plastic bags, wire ties and other wrappings can be hazardous if left around.

• Keep the Christmas snacks out of reach. If your children are really little, make sure there’s nothing around that is a choking hazard – such as nuts. And don’t leave food out so they stuff themselves all day. It’s also a good idea to decide how many sweet treats they’re allowed. If you know from experience that an overdose of sugar sends them into a tailspin, you may want to curb their consumption and let other family members know you’re keeping a lid on the sweet stuff.

• Include a present the whole family can enjoy later in the day once things have calmed down, such as a board game or backyard cricket set. Doing something all together adds to the fun of Christmas Day.

• Consider assembling toys that need to be constructed the night before. Following instructions and keeping an eye on lots of small pieces when you’ve got an impatient toddler desperate to play with their new present can be stressful. Taking it out of the box and doing it the night before can save a lot of time and tears (possibly yours) on Christmas Day.

• Get them to bed early on Christmas Eve. Yes, this is easier said than done when excitement about Santa’s visit has reached fever pitch, but you’ll be thankful if they’re well rested on Christmas Day, rather than tired and cranky. If necessary, do something really physical on Christmas Eve to wear them out.

• Include a book among their presents so that if they get a bit overexcited, you can retreat somewhere quiet and read them their new story to help them calm down.

• If you’re hosting Christmas at your house, or taking food to a family gathering, do as much as you can in advance. It’s no fun missing out on the festivities because you’re stuck in the kitchen.

• Encourage your children to spend a bit of time playing with each present as they open it, rather than rushing through all their gifts in a mad frenzy. Otherwise the “fun” part of Christmas could be done and dusted in a very short time.

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