One of the most exciting things about parenthood is experiencing holidays through the eyes of your children. Christmas is more magical, Easter more fun and Valentine’s Day even lovelier.
But New Year’s Eve comes with its own unique challenges, since it’s the only holiday celebrated in the middle of the night.
Any parent who’s been through sleep training, sleep regressions or the typical bedtime negotiations with a toddler knows that keeping to a routine is crucial for everyone’s sanity. But New Year’s Eve celebrations are just getting started around bedtime. What is a parent to do?
Not to fear. Here is the ultimate New Year’s Eve cheat sheet for moms.
Pretend it’s Midnight
Most of us aren’t bold enough to try to keep the young’uns up until midnight. Instead, push the typical countdown up to a time more in line with the normal bedtime routine.
Netflix has made New Year’s Eve easier by providing short videos of countdowns that you can play at any time. Featuring characters like Inspector Gadget, Care Bears and Puffin Rock, parents can play the videos once or allow the kids to watch them over and over again. Voila — midnight at any time.
Send Them to bed Early
It might be counterintuitive, but parents of toddlers might want to consider sending the little ones to bed before their normal bedtime, and then get on with the partying without them.
Everyone knows that kids have a hard time getting to sleep when they know there’s company. So put the kids to bed around seven and invite friends to come by around eight. Then you can enjoy your New Year’s Eve without the kiddos underfoot.
Make the Evening Special
Even if your kiddos can’t stay up until midnight, you can still make the night special. Buy some sparkling cider or make mocktails and let them drink out of the fancy champagne flutes. Dress up in sparkly clothes and hang streamers. It’s important to celebrate holidays and help kids mark the passage of time, so even if you aren’t up until the clock strikes twelve, you can still make the evening special.
Spend Time Reminiscing
New Year’s Eve is a great time to intentionally talk with your kids about the previous year. What family trips did you take? What accomplishments did they achieve or what milestones did they reach? Are there any family members who passed away who could be fondly remembered? What about births or weddings in your family?
Kids may have forgotten they were the flower girl back in March in Aunt Jo’s wedding. They’ll enjoy seeing photos from your trip to the beach over the summer. And you can also talk about what you’d like to do in the coming year.
Look for Daytime Events
Maybe the best thing for your family to do is celebrate during the day instead of in the evening. It’s easier for mealtime, sleep schedules and overall sanity. Heck, you could count down to noon instead of midnight!
Some cities have special New Year’s Eve events like parades, and museums or nature centers might have special programming for the holiday. You can use the extra day off to visit one of the spots on your wish list while avoiding the typical crowds.
Don’t be Ashamed to go to bed Early Yourself
It’s a cruel fact of parenthood that putting the kids to bed two hours late doesn’t mean they wake up two hours later the following morning. No matter what you do with the kids, chances are they’ll get up at the same time on New Year’s Day. Hello, 6 a.m. on a holiday!
There is no shame in forgoing the parties and special events. Instead, relish the precious time with your children and cozy up with your partner for a night in. In a few short years, your children will want to be driven to a party at a friend’s house, so don’t wish away the time you have with them now.
Start a Food Tradition
Kids love to help in the kitchen. And even if your family never celebrated on New Year’s with supposedly lucky foods, there’s no time like the present to start a new tradition.
Whether you want to eat grapes like the Spanish, sauerkraut like the Germans or black-eyed peas like Southerners, there are plenty of traditional New Year’s foods to choose from.
Unless you hire a babysitter, New Year’s Eve becomes a totally different holiday once the kids come along. You’re no longer worried about the cover charge at a club or an invite to an A-list party. But you can host the most exclusive, important celebration in the world: the one with your family.
So embrace New Year’s Eve with little ones by employing these tips, and ring in the New Year with fun and style.