How to survive the festive season with small kids

Exhaustion, anticipation and a change of routine – it’s a recipe for disaster!

If you have a kindergarten kid in your midst, you’re probably dealing with exactly the same level of exhaustion that I am. I remarked on our flailing energy levels on instagram last night and received a flood of comments from mothers who are in the same tired boat.

While chatting to one of the school teachers last week, she mentioned that the kids never really recovered from the busyness of Term 3. It was a jam-packed term brimming with activities. We also welcomed Marigold and made our way through a month of viruses that went round and round and round again, leaving us all weary.

We’re on the countdown to holidays now – only four weeks to go! I’m not really sure where this year has gone. How is it that Poet has finished her first year of school? I’ve been walking her to her classroom every morning because I’ve been so absent from school life for the past few months and she needs a little hand-holding at the moment. It’s difficult to evenly distribute your time when you’ve got four children to care for but I find that when one is particularly needy, the others make space. Ebb and flow, rise and fall.

And now the imminent festive season; the rehearsals and concerts and the calendar that says my weekends are full for the next short while. And the tired children who can’t concentrate and aren’t really that interested in getting ready for school in the morning (every morning). And the baby who is rolling about and the toddler who shares my pillow and gives me zero personal space.

It’s time to be proactive and create a new rhythm for the next few weeks. I know it’s up to me to make it happen – for the benefit of my stress levels and the whole family’s happiness. Here’s what I’m doing and prioritising:

  • writing a daily to-do list : I’ve got a notepad on my fridge and every evening I write my to-do list for the following day. Even the most mundane, everyday tasks go on there: washing, shopping, emails to write and appointments to make. There’s also blog posts to write, photos to take, ham to order and bills to pay. It saves me because my memory is a sieve at the moment and disorganisation leads to mental overwhelm.
  • prioritising downtime : every chance we get I’m making space for downtime. If our busy days are peppered with snippets of free play, stories, quiet craft time and movies, we’ll make it through.
  • organising early nights : now, more than ever, the (small) children need to be in bed before 7. It’s difficult with daylight savings but if I can serve dinner by 6 and have them in their PJs shortly after, the evening is much smoother and their sleep much deeper. Stories and cuddles are accompanied by lavender oil on their feet and in the diffuser to encourage calm and quiet.
  • making good food + applying essential oils : I’m serving raw vegies at every opportunity, making Vit C a daily habit and encouraging plenty of water. Poet is off dairy again (so am I because it doesn’t agree with Marigold) so we’re having banana, coconut + oat smoothies in the morning to start us off with as much energy as possible. Before school I rub immune-boosting oil into the soles of the feet and a touch of tea tree to the neck (there’s so many viruses around this spring!).
  • only doing what’s good for the whole family : I think it’s ok to give yourself permission to decline social gatherings and scheduled events at this time of year. If everyone is a bit exhausted and you need to summon the effort to leave the house with cranky kids you have to ask yourself: is this worth it?
  • focussing on the good of the season : despite the busyness of the season, there’s a lot to be grateful for. Meagan from Whole Family Rhythms recently released a Christmas Guide – a beautiful, heartfelt explanation Christmas traditions. If you would like a little guidance for the season and a few ideas for establishing your own festive traditions, this guide is for you.
  • reading seasonal books : this is one of my very favourite things to do in the lead up to Christmas – perfect way to slow down and reconnect. My five favourite Christmas books are listed here.
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Showing 6 comments
  • Louise

    Completely agree with your sentiment that if it doesn’t suit the whole family then you don’t have to do it (or feel bad about missing it). Your Christmas post from two years ago started me with our own Christmas tradition- reading (and collecting) Christmas books. It’s something I look forward to and a nice way to inject a slower paced activity into Christmas. Thank you Jodi!

  • Mel James

    Hi Jodi, I felt compelled to write and thank you for your blog … as a fellow mama to 4 I am terribly inconsistent at following any blogs, yet your words always resonate with me. Your musings on motherhood bring joy and validation to many, thank you!

    • Jodi

      Such lovely words! Thank you! x

  • Ally

    Great tips for this season! Thank you! I can relate to the exhaustion of children following on from term 3. We never really seemed to catch up. Throw into the mix later and later bedtimes now that daylight savings has begun and I have some very exhausted children (and parents) in the house:). A good reminder to slow down and keep a good rhythm even through the summer months. We have children spread between 2 and 10 and wondered if you find it difficult with the older children wanting to go to bed later and later? Not sure if anyone else has this problem. Thanks again.

    • Jodi

      My ten-year-old is in bed by 8pm but usually stays up reading till 9. I don’t have any issues with Poet – she’s out like a light within minutes of getting into bed x

  • Reanna

    Oh I REALLY needed to read this right now! My oldest is also nearing the final weeks of her first year of school and it is crazy how tired/emotional – up/down she is this week- which then impacts on the whole family… younger siblings are getting their resilience built up for sure! It’s like a whirlwind each day and we don’t know which it’s going to be from one minute to the next. (Sigh!)

    I’m yearning for the school holidays, a slower pace, no need to be anywhere at certain times and the ability to be spontaneous with our plans and days. Until then I’m giving her shorter days at school, maybe a day at home next week, lots of cuddles (when she will let me!) and trying to maintain some sort of calm in what feels like the total opposite mostly!

    What oils are you using on Poet? I’m doing lavender and also have been burning ylang ylang.

    Thanks for your blog Jodie, I always find something in each of your posts that I can relate to and take inspiration and ideas

    Reanna x

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