The shared space economy is a popular term these days. It really isn’t anything new. Families have participated in the shared space economy for centuries, especially over the holidays. How many of you remember traveling to Grandma’s house for Thanksgiving or Christmas? Spending holidays with cousins you only saw once a year? Giving up your bedroom so Grandma and Grandpa would have a room when they came to visit?
We all long for the Norman Rockwell painting holiday. Time together with family, everyone smiling, children learning old family traditions, peace and love prevailing. but with that expectation, come some very real fears. How will my shy toddler deal with all those new people? What will the sleeping arrangements be? Will we have to share a bathroom? How will we manage naps with so much going on? What will happen to the baby’s schedule? Will Uncle Bob smoke in the house, near the children? Will Aunt Judy insist on bringing that nasty dog? Well, you get the picture!
Some Tips for Survival
Staying at Grandma’s house can be a great option for all of you depending on the arrangements. If you can have your own room or, better yet, a room for you and a room for the kids, this situation might be ideal. Your family can fully participate in all the festivities of a Christmas at Grandma’s – baking cookies, trimming the tree, wrapping gifts, taking turns with the advent calendar. You could watch “White Christmas” with Grandma and introduce her to the kids’ favorite, “Elf!”! Grandpa can teach them to play cards and the kids can teach him to play video games.
Another great advantage to staying with Grandparents might be if they are willing to babysit so you can go out on a real date. Or Grandpa might take over bedtime stories and Grandma might help with baths and nap time.
But this arrangement isn’t best for every family. You might find it too hard to keep your child on a regular schedule. The space might just be too cramped with your brother and his family there too.
A nearby hotel with some fun amenities to entertain kids like an indoor poor or a game room might give your family the space they need. You might appreciate some separation from family.
Another very popular option is to rent a vacation home, either just for your family or with another family member to share the costs. Select a home with enough bedrooms and bathrooms to keep everyone comfortable. Maybe look for a house with a bunk room so cousins can camp out together. Of course, Grandma and Grandpa might even want to get in on the deal and look for a larger vacation rental to host the large family gathering. The options are endless.
There are many on line booking sites available. Here are a couple where we advertise that do not charge additional booking fees:
No matter whether you stay at Grandma’s, go to a hotel or rent a vacation home, family meals are part of the holiday experience. Rather than burden one person with all the work of hosting and cooking, the holiday pot luck can be a great alternative. Everyone can pitch in and bring their favorite dish and all the cousins can help with the clean up!
Eating out with a large group can be difficult and requires extra planning. If your family wants to eat out, try to get an idea of budget and food preferences and do some research. It might be better to do carry out! Reservations are a must for groups over 8.
We can easily exhaust ourselves and throw our children into major meltdowns if we don’t allow some space in our busy schedules. Everyone loves babies, but babies don’t love everyone all the time! Try to plan ahead and let family know what activities you can and cannot attend so no one is unexpectedly disappointed. If you can, combine celebrations. Do Christmas while you are home for Thanksgiving. Celebrate Christmas with extended family on Christmas Eve and keep Christmas Day for yourselves. Alternate years with Thanksgiving at one Grandparents’ house and Christmas at the other.
Traveling with small children can require a small trailer just for all the gear they need! Cribs, strollers, baby gates, highchairs, all take up valuable space in the care and just aren’t practical if you are flying. Worse yet are the old leftover cribs and highchairs Grandma might have stored away in the attic that have served generations of children, but just aren’t safe. A great alternative is to find a local baby gear rental company. They will often deliver right to your temporary housing and relieve you of all that stress.
Remember, staying in other people’s homes, you cannot expect them to baby proof their homes for your short stay. Plan on bringing outlet plus if you need them and use some creative thinking. Maybe have one room that you can child proof and convince Grandma to put her most valuable Christmas decorations in another room.
While holidays are filled with many fun activities, the constant social gatherings, changes in diet and new scenery can also be stressful. Pencil in some downtime for yourself! Take a walk. Read a book. Listen to music. Soak in a tub. Watch a Hallmark movie. Allow everyone to have some time that isn’t planned.
Make memories…but make them good ones!