Coping with Your Kid’s Holiday Hangover

By Gena Kittner

I think my 3-year-old is suffering from a holiday hangover. After 10 awesomely jammed-packed days in Ohio over Christmas, our return to Arizona has resulted in a moody, tired kid who doesn’t want to eat. You know the feeling.

The holidays are over, but preschoolers and toddlers may be struggling to cope with the transition back to a normal routine. Learn how one mom is helping her young child cope with the holiday hangover.

The biggest problem, thus far, has been the disposal of our (once) live Christmas tree. We got our tree Thanksgiving weekend, and since then, Ellie has grown quite attached. As we packed away ornaments on New Year’s Eve, she asked, “But how are we going to fit the tree in that box?”

Bad news, kid: The tree is headed for our wood pile. But as an upside, I’m sure we’ll be vacuuming up needles for the next 12 months.

Then I came downstairs to find our now undecorated tree freshly adorned with Ellie’s hair ties.

Strike one.

I tried to get her excited about New Year’s, explaining how we were going to a party and she could wear a fancy dress. This somehow turned in to daddy’s birthday party (because I said it was at daddy’s friend’s house), which prompted her to spend 24 hours asking when we were going to have cake.

Strike two.

So I’ve decided to embrace Valentine’s Day a little early and decorate the inside of our front door — near where the tree stood — with hearts and the like.

Valentine craft for toddlers and preschoolers

We started by finally hanging up all the wonderful Christmas cards we received while were were gone. I covered clothespins with heart washi tape to make the display look more Valentine’s than Christmas and attached them to a red string of stars.

Next, I took a brown paper bag and drew block letters and hearts for Ellie to paint. After cutting those out Ellie taped them to the door, at her level, of course. This leaves plenty of room for us eventually to make and hang a wreath.


This seems to have helped her holiday withdraw for the moment, although she’s still asking randomly for presents, and then having a mini-meltdown when I tell her we don’t have any more and Christmas is over.

The holidays are so much fun to celebrate with children, but I’m finding it important to remember that all the excitement, travel and gifts takes its toll on kiddos as well as adults.

Let’s hope a week of our regular routine–combined with a few new crafts and distractions–is just what the doctor ordered.

Gena KittnerGena is a Midwest transplant living in Tucson, Arizona with her husband and 3-year-old daughter, Ellie. When not killing scorpions, Gena writes about food and family. Follow her on Twitter @genakittner, and check out her previous guest posts on Mommy Sanest.


39 thoughts on “Coping with Your Kid’s Holiday Hangover

  1. I was shaking my head the whole time in agreement. My three year old is going through the same thing. We did not travel for the holidays however, we leave for vacation soon and I can’t imagine what that hangover will be like!! Thanks for making me feel like I’m not alone and not crazy for my house being decorated for Valentine’s Day.

    • Not crazy at all. In fact, I’m finding that I really enjoy holidays like Valentine’s Day and Halloween a lot more now that I have a kid. I say embrace it!

    • I know. I think I’ve gone to bed within half an hour of my child every night since Christmas, just trying to catch up. Holidays are fun, but exhausting. Thanks for stopping by Michelle πŸ™‚

  2. We have a fake tree and as I was taking it down my kids were very concerned that I was “breaking” the tree. Epic mom fail, next time I’ll wait till they’re asleep in bed. πŸ™‚

    • I agree. We seem to experience this after every “big” event, even when family comes to visit. Everyone is so excited and we talk about it for so long I think it’s hard for our daughter to adjust when all of a sudden the excitement is over. Thank goodness children thrive on routine!

  3. Sadly my 7 year old son was still asking what is next as if he doesn’t know his holidays and today going back to school after the holiday break was the challenge for me.

  4. I think recovering from Christmas is hard for everyone – I’m currently struggling with an addiction to chocolates that developed throughout December when chocolates were plentiful around the house. I’m sure soon enough they’ll move on and be excited for the next thing!

  5. There is always a “phase” when it comes to kids…this too shall pass! Toddlers are so focused on things it cracks me up..and drives me crazy! Cute story…love the hair ties on the tree!!

  6. We are definitely dealing with some sort of post-holiday, off-our-schedule insanity from our two-year-old.

    Either that, or we’re just dealing with a two-year-old. (I’m hopeful that it’s the former.)

    I love these ideas, Gena!

  7. As much as I like the Holidays, they are exhausting for us and for our kids. We go to bed later, we don’t sleep well, we eat food that we are not used to eating, we don’t exercise as much… I’m happy to be back to my regular routine now. We can finally enjoy some relaxing family time.

    • You hit the nail on the head, Caroline. It’s no wonder the holidays are so hard — we do almost all the things we shouldn’t! Sadly, I’m just not sure there’s any way around that …

  8. I can so relate! After each holiday this year we have gone through this with my 2 year old. After her birthday, all I heard was “more presents”. After Halloween it was constant requests to trick or treat. Then Christmas came, which brought 7 gift-opening events over a 5 day span. I’m still hearing about presents and trees. I love the idea of getting a jumpstart on Valentines day. She definitely needs a distraction!

    Thank you for sharing with us at #MommyMeetupMondays!

    • Thanks Brandyn! I’m a big fan of distraction … although I’m probably building a Valentine’s monster who wants to eat nothing but Conversation Hearts and make doily-covered cards for the next six weeks πŸ™‚

  9. I never heard of a holiday hangover until I dropped my four year old off at preschool today. The teacher told me the kids are happy to be back today but tomorrow it will set in the holidays are over and they may suffer tomorrow,

  10. That’s really cute! Creating a new focus after all of the excitement of the holidays is over is challenging,, but finding new crafts sounds like perfect idea.

  11. We are going through our very first Holiday hangover with our 2 year old. I have never dealt with this before but he has been exhausted and sick πŸ™ I have also been a bit hungover from holiday too many visits and not enough breaks to recharge! Yay for January Recovery!

    P/s the hair tie Christmas ornaments is adorable, I would have let the tree stay for one more day after that, I wouldn’t have the heart to throw it out!

  12. This is such a cute post. I don’t have kids and don’t plan on them within the next five years but looking into your cute little family makes me giddy and dreamy of a cute little one all my own. Hope Ellie gets over her hangover, but adults get them too. Key example: myself! Ha, happy new year, hope its a great one

  13. Dang! My kids are older now so I don’t have to go through that (thank God)! But I remember those days . . . oh, do I remember! (Big sigh). Good job shifting her focus – wish I’d thought of that!

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