When my kids were young, taking them to the Christmas pageants was a tradition. It was a great family day out but it was pretty stressful. It wasn’t too bad when they were bubs in nappies but, when they reached preschool and primary ages, it got a bit tricky – particularly when I planned to do it solo.
So, if you don’t want the kids to miss out and want to take them along to a Christmas pageant or two, I have some great tips to reduce the stress, keep the kids entertained, food and drinks to pack, sun smart info and a heap of other things you may not have anticipated.
It’s all in the preparation
1. Go on-line and checkout the route. Get a satellite view so you can check out things like shade, shelter, toilets, parking, public transport and access. The best spots will get filled early, so plan for a very early morning, followed by a long tiring day! Work out if you are catching public transport or taking the car and plan accordingly.
2. Plan what to pack, well before the day. Pack it in a way that will be easy to take with you and do it the day before. Leaving it all to the last minute will be too hectic. The only thing you should need to organize in the morning is the kids and yourself. Have the food and drink packed up and in the fridge and freezer, ready to go. This will include:
- Food (see below)
- Drink (see below)
- Sunblock 30+
- Panadol/Nurophen (child and adult)
- Hats and sun-smart clothing
- Spare pants/T-shirt for the kids
- Blanket to sit on
- Small pillow or two for the kids to have a rest on
- A full packet of giant chalk to entertain the kids
- An electronic game or other activity
- Fold-up chair for you
- Mobile phone
- If you have a baby with you add the stroller or pusher, nappy bag, bottles and plenty of water
3. Now you’ve got everything covered, let’s look at what sort of food to take. Lots of parents grab high sugar or fat foods and wonder why they are having a hard time keeping the kids entertained for hours, while they are waiting for the floats to arrive. Avoid this sort of food and opt for cut up fruit, veggies, cheese, small goods, sandwiches or finger food which will take time to prep but save you hours of stress later.
4. We all know the best drink is water. Freeze a few bottles and they will keep the food cold and save you lugging extra cooling products. Take some extra water while it defrosts. If you are going to take juice, dilute it, freeze it and give it to the kids like an ice-block. If it’s going to be a warm day, it will cool them and keep them calm.
5. Now we’ve got all that covered, let’s discuss safety. Even the most attentive parent can have the potential to misplace a child, when there are thousands of them there and distractions galore. I used to dress the kids in really bright coloured clothes.
It’s also advised that you get a semi-permanent pen and write your phone number on your child’s arm. Take a photo of them prior to leaving with your mobile, so you have it with you. This will remind you of what they are wearing should they get lost. Discuss stranger danger in the car or on public transport along the way. Kids need a bit of reminding when they are excited. Also remind them that if they can’t see you, you won’t be able to see them, so stay close.
6. When you arrive at the location before you set up, locate a meeting place if someone gets lost. If you wait until after you set up it maybe too late.
7. After you set up, let the kids just look around for a while before you start to bring out things to entertain them. If you load them up with food and drink continuously, you’ll be lining up at the toilets constantly. If you hand over the entertainment items too soon, they will get bored. The wait will be long so, you may as well use the new surroundings as entertainment, until they start getting restless.
8. Remember to enjoy the day with them. Don’t make it a stressful event. If you are planning to go solo, have a plan of attack should the kids need to go to the toilet. If you have more than one child, make sure you all go together and just make sure you take the most important things, like your purse, phone and any computer game with you and leave the rest. Far better to lose possessions than your babies!
9. Take lots of photos of the kids reactions and if possible some video footage. This will keep them entertained on the way home, especially if you are catching public transport.
10. Pre-organize some quiet activities for when you get back home. They may fall asleep along the journey and wake up with that second wind, right when you reach the front door and you are in desperate need of a cupa and time out to put your feet up.
Hopefully, I given you some new ideas and confirmed some of yours. Christmas pageants are all about the kids, Santa and having fun; not giving parents a nervous break-down. Remember to relax when you can, stay vigilant about their safety and enjoy their childhood.
Image via resources1.news.com.au/images/2009/11/07/1225795/282641-christmas-pageants-past-and-present.jpg