What to Expect When You Have a Toddler at Christmas

Just like that, I survived to tell the tale of my first semester in law school as the parent of a toddler. Truth be told, there were a few tantrums, a LOT of late nights, and many, MANY hours spent in the same spot with my head in a book. There were too many nights that I didn’t get home to put Ellie to bed. There were many nights that Tyler handled WAY more than his fair share of parenting duties (and for that, I am eternally grateful). There were way too many dishes piled in the sink, way too few walks for the dog, way too many fast-food dinners and virtually zero quality time spent together as a family. But, we survived. And I haven’t failed anything. Yet. To law school parents and their law school ‘widows’: you are amazing.

One (huge) perk of being a student is Christmas vacation. The rush of complete freedom after writing your last final exam is enough to make me want to be a perpetual student. Although I spent the first few days after my last exam recovering from way too many late night study sessions, I was finally able to get my act together and get Christmas underway.

Ellie is that sort of ‘in between’ age right now. She’s not a baby, but she’s not grasping the concept of Santa and Christmas all that well. She knows who he is, and that he brings presents — but she’s clueless as to what ‘presents’ are (maybe that’s a good thing?). When I ask her what she wants Santa to bring her, she stares at me blankly and usually responds with something incoherent — or ‘sticker’. She’s really not that interested in opening presents, either. I’m not sure she’ll really clue in until Christmas morning when she sees her larger presents displayed ‘from Santa’.

While this is technically my third Christmas on record as a Mom, Christmas with a toddler is an entirely new experience, and I thought I’d share a few survival tips I’ve picked up along the way.  (I’m obviously hoping these tips will be picked up by the publishers of the “What to Expect” series, who will then promptly approach me for a book deal. So, in reading this, you’re basically getting the first look at the upcoming “What to Expect When You Have a Toddler at Christmas” book. It’s a working title, so just go with it).

  1. Avoid the whole ‘Santa is watching’ thing — especially if you have a sensitive toddler, like mine. I learned this the hard way in Toys R Us yesterday, when Ellie promptly burst into tears. (Do you blame her? I wouldn’t want some strange bearded man with a cookie addiction watching me, either). I’m also not personally a fan of threatening, i.e. “if you’re not good, Santa won’t come!” Because we all know the presents are going to appear under the tree regardless. And then who looks like the chump? Mom does.
  1. Shop online. Buy everything online. Seriously. Never shop in a store again. Better yet, shop online in your underwear.
  1. DON’T take your kid into a toy store to ‘help’ pick out presents for other kids. Unless you’re prepared for approximately 400 tantrums to take place when they decide they “need” everything on display. (In case you hadn’t guessed, I had the pleasure of this very experience just yesterday. See #1).
  1. Avoid Pinterest and Instagram if you don’t want to see 1,000 photos of how much more put together other Moms (who probably have about 5 more kids than you) and their homes are. Lay out stale cookies for Santa and a half-rotted carrot for the reindeer and relish in the fact that your toddler is too young to care whether you’ve made the magic reindeer sparkle cookies.
  1. Wine. Always wine. Send your poor, endearing, lovable, non-socially anxious partner to face the crowds at Walmart while you write this blog post with a glass of wine nearby.


Merry Christmas, ya filthy animals.



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