Thursday, 20 December 2018

Practically Perfect Guide to Christmas

Christmas is a magical and exciting time, and having children brings lots of extra enjoyment, but it can be a little overwhelming at times.

Mary Poppins Returns is released in UK cinemas on Friday 21 December 2018

From creating unforgettable moments for the whole family to conquering fussy eaters and keeping tantrums at bay, four Norland Nannies from Norland College have listed their practically perfect tips for a Christmas that’s supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!

Making sure Christmas lunch runs smoothly – and children eat up their vegetables by Emily Lazenby

Prepare together
Allow the children to help you to plan and prepare for the lunch. The easiest way to do this is by letting them help with laying the table - from asking them to create homemade name cards to picking out the crackers in the supermarket.

Fussy eaters
For children who don’t enjoy eating their vegetables (or anything else!), asking for their help when preparing can help to combat this. With adult supervision, peeling and chopping the vegetables is a great way to encourage little ones to try something new. If you have some time, creating a scene with the vegetables is my top tip – I once created a vegetable person for a charge who was a very fussy eater, and we had great fun eating the ‘body parts’!

Stick to routine
Try and stick roughly to your children’s routine for timings. Christmas is very stimulating for children and by keeping your lunch times in line with their daily routine, this will help to avoid any tantrums and rumbling tummies! If you’re having starters, and your children aren’t, avoid boredom by setting up an activity, maybe playing with their new toys, to keep them entertained whilst you enjoy your first course.

Wholesome festive activities for all the family to enjoy by Amalia Austin

Take a walk
A long walk can be bursting with Christmas magic with just a little imagination. My charges all know that robins are Father Christmas’ special messengers, so we make sure to take some birdfeed on our walks with us, in case we spot any who can put in a good word with the man himself! For older children, creating a festive-themed scavenger hunt to tick off during the walk is a very fun distraction.

Get crafty
Take a leaf out of the Duchess of Sussex’s book and make some homemade treats for your visitors this year - it’s sure to impress and will show your children that the best presents come from the heart. Try baking gingerbread with your children and encourage them to hand the treats out to your guests and watch them beam with pride. Making salt dough ornaments and tea light holders from jars is very easy to do, and every year you can unpack the decorations and reminisce.

Keeping it traditional
Don’t forget to make up some reindeer food out of oats and glitter to sprinkle on your doorstep and leave out a homemade biscuit and a glass of milk for Father Christmas on Christmas Eve! Then enjoy hanging your stockings up together before an early night to prepare for the big day!

Creating magical Christmas memories by Loren Ingles

It is important to maintain regular bedtimes so that routines are not disrupted for children, but bedtime could be made extra special on Christmas Eve by reading a Christmas book, which could be given as an early present. This will help relax children in a way that they are used to whilst giving them a special Christmas feeling.

Christmas carolling
Carolling is another fantastic way of creating memories with friends and family. A sense of community can bring so much joy and creates long lasting memories for all. Carolling is a great way to celebrate the true meaning of Christmas and a child friendly introduction to the Christmas story.

The true meaning of Christmas
With Christmas being heavily focused around gifting, it is important to teach our children the importance of giving back. Over the past few years we have taken presents to children’s hospitals, baked for the local emergency services or sent off our boxes full of treats to Children In Need. However big or small your traditions may be, they can remain special to your family for generations to come.

And finally… top tips to prevent toddler tantrums on Christmas Day by Rosie Davies

  • Talk to your children and involve them as much as possible in the lead up to the festivities, as this can help to manage expectations and relieve anxiety.
  • Know your child’s limits, as hunger and tiredness are common triggers. Try to plan in down time during the day, whether this is reading a book quietly together or getting outside for some fresh air.
  • Keep any off limit objects out of sight and, most importantly, reach! Distract younger children with a new environment or activity to replace the frustrating or forbidden one.
  • Give your child time to finish activities, and forewarning when it is time to move on. An egg timer can be particularly helpful!
  • Consider buying age appropriate versions of the same gift to help avoid sibling rivalry, such as a box of Duplo for younger children and Lego for the older ones. 
  • Create a quiet and safe calm down area. It is important to note that this is not to be used as a punishment, but as a tool to empower children to learn to self soothe and build resilience. For children aged over 2 years, I usually construct a cosy den with cushions, a blanket or a bean bag, some homemade lavender play dough to squeeze to release tension, a sand timer to visually calm and distract, a child safe mirror and emotion flashcards to help children understand and communicate their emotions and a pinwheel, or bubbles, to support gentle and relaxing breathing.
  • Above all, don’t be afraid to seek support from those around you or to take some time out for yourself - even Mary Poppins is only ‘practically perfect’!
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