Thanksgiving day without children can be hectic between travel time, visiting family, cooking and cleaning. Add a seven, four and two-year-old to the mix, and it can feel overwhelming. Here are a few ideas to help with the day:
- Do what you can ahead – This may be baking desserts, making and freezing side dishes the days before or really cleaning the house over the weekend.
- Hire out what you can – I cheat. Each year I have at least one store bought dessert and side dish that I may claim as my own. Not a luxury I have often, but occasionally we have a housecleaning service before the holidays and out of town guests.
- Keep children busy during prep – If you have an extra adult who is available outside the kitchen, have them lead a nature walk or help children to browse toy catalogs to cut and paste a Holiday wish list. If they are really gung-ho, provide a pre-formed ginger bread house with frosting and decorations (left over halloween candy in my house) for the children to make a centerpiece.
- OR Involve them during prep – If they are old enough, include them in the preparations. Children can color placemats, write menus, butter vegetables, knead pie crust, take drink orders and set tables.
- Stick to normal routines – This means mealtimes and naps as much as you can. This can go a long way towards a pleasant day for all.
- Include kid-friendly food – I tend to think traditional Thanksgiving food is pretty kid-friendly. Still, it doesn’t hurt to be sure there will be mashed potatoes or mac and cheese if it’s a favorite.
- Use contribution during the meal – Children love to help. Encourage them to butter rolls, carry plates or refold napkins as needed.
- Discipline in private – To provide a pleasant mealtime for all, step away from the table for discipline.
- Set expectations a bit lower – Remember they are children. It can be a challenging day particularly if they’ve travelled, are not sleeping in their own room or sharing their room with a cousin.