Expectations for Christmas with a toddler
My most google’d phrase this Christmas season was probably some variation of “toddler Christmas.” I searched it on Pinterest and Google, in all my mom groups – everywhere. I needed to know if I was supposed to tell my 13 month old about Santa already or if he needed an elf on the shelf. And how was I supposed to keep him from pulling the tree down? What do you even put in the stocking of a person who barely has the motor skills to get his own hand inside a stocking? After numerous searches pulled up things like Christmas trees in baby gates and stockings overflowing with noisy, flashing, plastic toys, I decided it was time to go my own way.
Enter realistic-minimalism – my idea that I want to be a minimalistic, but let’s be realistic about this. I can’t live with just one pair of jeans or only 4 coffee mugs and I don’t expect my child to have less than 6 stuffies in his room. So while I enjoy an uncluttered life, I still want to have creature comforts and hold on to some sentimental things. Balance in all things, right? I want this movement to be call middimalism – somewhere in the middle of real life and my minimalistic dream-life.
I claim and attempt to be realistically-minimal in most areas of my life (ok, maybe not my shoe life) but especially my mom-ing. That’s exactly what I wanted for my Christmas. Realistic minimalism. I always cringe a little when I see pictures of living-rooms strewn with colorful nonsense while a mother posts a picture of her adorable Little playing with a box. It’s an age old joke. We all know it well.
“Bought an expensive toy. Baby just wants the box it came in.”
But it’s not just a joke, it’s real! My child much prefers my Tupperware cabinet to his toy shelf and don’t even try to hand him that fake remote control. He knows it’s not the one he wants! But, alas, I am not giving my one-year-old his own cell phone just because he likes to play with mine, but I also couldn’t expect giving to a family in need to bring the light of Christmas joy to his tiny face. His Christmas gifts needed to be something I could keep as long as it was bringing him joy and then dispose of without remorse. Thankfully, my little C monster pointed me in the right direction as he found his greatest joy around 6 months old.
That joy was the tissue box. The satisfaction of pulling one tissue out and another just pops up in its place! You can pull them apart into teeny tiny pieces. You can throw them around while you giggle. You can even eat them! Oh what fun! So while I was considering wrapping empty boxes for some perfect, toddler-friendly, Christmas-morning photo ops (and for C to destroy), I thought, “Hey, tissue boxes would be easy to wrap and look like might cute little Christmas packages!”
That’s exactly what C is getting from Santa. And from Mom. And from anyone else who asked what they should get him. My sister thought I was joking! I was not. I went over to my local Dollar Store and bought three boxes of half-ply, scratch-your-nose-off tissues (Hands off my Puff’s Plus with Vix, you tiny thief!) in assorted colors and sizes. I wouldn’t want to be thought of as lazy or uncreative!
In addition to his tissues, C’s Christmas list looked a little like this –
- Rubber ducky dressed as Santa – Dollar Store
- He loves to play with his duckies in the bath and I plan to replace them often due to mold and bacteria that are known to grow inside rubber bath toys.
- Jingle bell necklace – Dollar store
- I can’t wait to see his excitement when he realizes this thing makes noise! He seems to enjoy things that he can make make the noise (rather than the automatic noisy toys). It’s also good for his development of cause and effect!
- Socks – Amazon
- It’s like we have a sock thief in our house! But then, doesn’t everyone? Seriously, where do they go? I plan to open each pack of socks and put them into his stocking one by one so he can try to cram his chubby hands into his stocking and pull them all out! Another chance to work on some motor skill development!
Altogether, I believe I spend $15 on C for Christmas! My inner minimalist is happy because I won’t be frustrated when he loses interest in anything I bought. I can just discreetly throw it away or put it in his dresser drawers. And my realist is happy because it’s Christmas and I want my son (even though he won’t remember) to experience the joy and excitement of presents on Christmas! Oh, and I have to get those obligator toddler Christmas pictures!
As for pulling the tree down, Cillian has been labeled a “natural rule follower.” He must have gotten that from his father because his mother is very much of the mindset that you should do something just because someone said you can’t. #Don’tBelieveMeJustWatch! So while he has had his grimy paws on my ornaments more than once, it usually only takes a gentle reminder of, “We don’t touch that.” for him to lose interest. Just in case, I did make sure to put the non-breakables at his level and pinch the hooks closed very tightly around the branches. So far he’s more interested in pointing out all the Mickey Mouses and their noses than actually pulling them off the tree. I guess we just picked a good kid!
When it comes to Christmas traditions, I’m relaying heavily on Dad for that one. I never believed that Santa was…IS! Real so I wasn’t quite sure how to teach it to a child. We didn’t leave him cookies or sit up waiting for him when I was young, so I’m not sure what we plan to make our Santa tradition. I know that C won’t remember this Christmas or probably even next but isn’t the best thing about a tradition that you’ve been doing it longer than you can remember? I think that in order for it to already be a “tradition” by the time our children are able to remember and be involved, Mom and Dad need to start practicing and working out kinks as early as possible meaning, this year! I’m actually quite excited to have Christmas traditions with my children! I just love the holidays and everything about them and I want them to be so full of magic and love for my family.