Hey there and welcome to the podcast. I’m so glad that you’ve joined me. I’m going to talk today about holiday gatherings. We are wrapping up 2023. This is actually the last podcast of the year. And I know that when this episode comes out, that many of you will be getting ready. You might be packing your suitcases to do some traveling.

Last year, over 112 million people traveled for holiday gatherings, and over 100 million of these were car travelers. I can just imagine what it’s like inside the car with you and your children as you are driving long distances to get to your families. In our family, our 20 hours across the United States to get to our house next week.

And I just want to acknowledge that This is not easy. Traveling with infants and toddlers, especially, presents lots of opportunities for you to grow your patience and your ability to be flexible. As you prepare to gather with your family and friends for the holidays, I just wanted to give you a couple of tips, most of which you will already know, so this will just be a reminder, but just some ways that you can help your little ones manage the change of routines, which we know is so important for young kids.

First of all, as much as possible, keep the same sleep schedules. Naps and bedtimes matter a lot in the first three years. So, here’s what that means for you. You might need to get creative. If it’s nap time and you’re in a busy, loud environment, maybe you need to come somehow separate yourself and your baby or your little one away.

Maybe you could take a nice long car ride. Hopefully they’ll fall asleep. At the very least they’ll have some down time and some quiet time with just you. You could go for a walk if your baby will sleep in the stroller and if the weather’s cooperating that might be a nice thing. Not only for them but for you to get out and take a little break.

Or, if you are, you know, you can’t get away, wear your baby in a carrier on your body so they’ll have the comfort of your presence and maybe they might be able to fall asleep. At the very least, they will have some good, strong connection time with you. Another thing that you might be able to do, this one is just kind of iffy, it depends on the situations of course, but if there’s evening events that everyone is going to.

Maybe there’s an alternative for your baby. This might look like somebody staying home with the baby while everybody else goes out. And I, I know that that might not be the best for everyone, but I know that me, I’m kind of a homebody and I don’t mind missing out. I don’t mind staying home with the baby and babysitting while everybody else goes out.

And maybe you have someone in your extended family that’s like me who wouldn’t mind just staying home and allowing your child to get their sleep in so that they can have a good day tomorrow. Another thing to consider is the food. You know, holiday gatherings are full of lots of different kinds of foods from our normal eating habits.

And we know that it’s really important for children to have the foods that they like. And so, wherever you are, your child will be happier if they have some familiar foods. So, bring along your favorites, or maybe even place a grocery delivery order ahead of time, so that when you arrive where you’re going, You’ll, this will ensure that you have what you need for your kid.

Another thing that I wanted to just mention is that traditions are important at this time of year and in some families., they’re more important than other families. I’m going to tell you a story about my family My in-laws had very strong Christmas traditions and one thing that they did Is they would go on Christmas eve to a really nice dinner at a very fancy restaurant, you know, so everyone would get all dressed up.

We would go for dinner and it would start with drinks and it would just kind of be a leisurely ordering of the appetizers and the main dish. And of course there was always dessert. It seemed to take hours. Because I always had these three little kids with me. The meal was really long and pretty formal.

Every year we thought, do we really have to go? Do we really have to spend all this money to sit there and, you know, manage our kids at the one end of the table? But we did make the decision to power through because it was important. to the people in this family. We did give ourselves freedom to be late though and miss the cocktails beforehand because that just was too much to ask hungry kids to wait to have their food while everybody has a long leisurely drink.

Looking back, I wonder if I’d agree to that again. Maybe so because relationships are really important to me and it was very important to them to have this tradition of this meal, or maybe not because it was really challenging. It was expensive. But it was kind of fun too and it made for some fun stories now as our kids are older and we can rehash some of those dinners and some of the events that happened during those dinners.

Bottom line is the reason that 112 million people travel for the holidays every year. It’s because relationships matter and this is what we all need. This is what you need. This is what I need. I need relationships with my family, with my friends, with the people around me. And I want to connect and share my life with those around me.

And so my word of encouragement to you as we wrap up this year is to put relationships on top. For the holidays, put the relationships on top of gifts, food, decorations, even those all-important traditions. This is the origin of the holiday. This is the origin of Christmas. It is a baby born to bring us into relationship with our Father.

So, my prayer for you and your family as we close out the year is that you would experience peace, connection, and joy as you celebrate with those that you love. And if you’re separated from those that are important to you for one reason or another, my prayer is that you would find peace through this baby that was born to bring us life, with a capital L.

So that is it for today. Happy holidays, Merry Christmas, all the love and peace that I can send your way through this podcast I am sending to you now, and I will speak with you again on this podcast in 2024. Bye-bye.

Learn more:

How to help the holidays go smoothly for your kids

6 Tips for your first holiday season with baby