By Michelle Mady
‘Tis the season for all of the occasional gear (that is taking up half of my basement) to come up and show itself throughout my home. There are lights and garland; trees and stockings; throw pillows and decor for every room. As much as I love making my house a winter wonderland, decorating in any way with a toddler can be difficult.
When adding winter decor and holiday additions to homes with young children, a bit of extra thought needs to be put into everything. What items can come out of storage? Where do these decorations go? How can we balance safety, decor and sanity?
Candles are a beautiful part of many holiday traditions. Menorah candles light the room, Advent wreaths are lit to celebrate the holiday, and lanterns are alive with the celebration. But an open flame around children can be a recipe for disaster. Either you never light them, missing out on the beauty, or you light them and constantly worry about its placement compared with your child’s ability to climb.
But an open flame around children can be a recipe for disaster. Either you never light them, missing out on the beauty, or you light them and constantly worry about its placement compared with your child’s ability to climb.
Using battery operated, or electric candles, can give you the best of both worlds. It gives you the full holiday feeling without the safety concern. It can also be used to expose your child to candles, holding boundaries as if they are flames, but with less risk. Reinforcing the rules around these safe options may help them to be more comfortable being around candles next year.
Are you fully Pinterest inspired and love to decorate your tree in a way that belongs in an HGTV house? If those decorations are important to you, think about putting them somewhere that supports minimal interaction. A playroom is not the best place for the award-winning ornament, and the kitchen table, where nightly dinner is served, isn’t where your family heirloom centerpiece goes. Consider a place that is less traveled by your toddler.
If space is limited and your toddler and magazine cover decor need to occupy the same space (first of all, I am in awe of your commitment), there are some tricks to help balance the two in harmony.
Wrap some large boxes in fun wrapping paper and place them around the tree. It becomes a barrier between your decor and child, but also adds to the fun of holiday decorating. X-Pen crates are a great option as well, building a fence around the untouchable. Add some pipe cleaners and fabric strips for your child to play with!
If You Can’t Beat ‘Em, Join ‘Em!
On the other hand, if you are not attached to your decor being just right, have your toddler help out! Fill the bottom half of the tree with soft, kid friendly ornaments. Bring out the Little People Nativity set. A child decorated Menorah brings a new level of fun to the holiday. Allowing some areas of toddler interaction will help them to feel involved while keeping some other decorations untouched.
Find a happy medium. Grab a felt tree with velcro ornaments and hang it on your child’s wall. Countdowns to the holiday can help a child feel a bit more in control. Allow playful times with some items to balance out the “nos” that come with the holidays. Holiday family fun can be hard to manage, keeping the adults and children happy and included. But by including safety precautions, boundaries and a little flexibility, the holidays can be beautiful!
About the author: Michelle is a mom of 5 children ranging in age from 5 to 15. As a toddler and preschool teacher, she shares experiences, activities and guidance to other parents, as both a parent and as a professional early childhood educator, at any stage of their parenting journey.
Photo credit: iStock.com/miodrag ignjatovic