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We all know surviving the holidays with small children can be a bit chaotic. There are some simple things you can do to make Thanksgiving less stressful for you and your toddler.

The main thing to remember about young children and Thanksgiving is that it’s not going to be perfect. No matter how you try to plan things, expect the unexpected and try to go with the flow.

Here are some tips to help with your day:

  • Keep routine. Young children thrive on consistency and routine. If your child is accustomed to taking an afternoon nap everyday, let your child sleep at that time! Even if you’re not at home, try to find a quiet room in the house and lay down with your child until she/he falls asleep. Everyone will be much happier with a well rested toddler!
  • Let your child eat. Don’t make your child wait until everyone sits down to eat dinner. If your child is hungry, give them a snack. A hungry child equals a cranky child.
  • Don’t be pushy. You know that aunt your toddler only sees at the holidays or great grandma who is starting to look quite old? Your toddler is probably going to be nervous about them! Don’t force your child to interact with relatives. Most likely, your toddler will warm up to them by the end of the day, anyway.
  • Plan. Whether you’re hosting or traveling for Thanksgiving, make sure you have some of your toddler’s favorite items, toys and snacks to keep them occupied.
  • Child proof. If you’re traveling to a relative’s house, don’t forget to do a quick scan when you arrive for anything that needs to be childproofed. I actually take a baby gate with me when I go to my relatives houses to block off the stairs or even a room where breakables are kept.
  • When your child is done, let them be finished. Don’t force your toddler to sit at the table until everyone is finished eating. Bring a quiet activity or have an older relative or sibling entertain them while the adults finish up.
  • Relax. Thanksgiving is only one day a year and everyone will survive! There might be bumps along the way, but it will be okay!