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keeping your toddler happy on Thanksgiving – Motherhood Mondays

Thursday is the big day! Can you believe that it is already here? Many of you will be rushing about your kitchens. Roasting a turkey. Peeling carrots. Toasting pecans for pie. Mashing potatoes to get your workout in.

Stop for a minute and think. What is your child doing while you’re crazed in the kitchen?

Tips for Keeping Your Toddler Happy on Thanksgiving

Keeping Your Toddler Happy on Thanksgiving

Children, particularly toddlers, thrive on routine and consistency. Even the slightest disruption to their routine can wreck havoc for the entire day. As you plan your family’s day – and the days of prep work leading up to it – keep this in the front of your mind.

Stick with Routine

Thanksgiving often means visiting relatives invade your home, often taking up residence in the toddler’s room if you’re not fortunate enough to have a guest room. A change like this to their routine is difficult for a toddler to accept. These are strangers to them {many relatives are strange, aren’t they?!} and they simply don’t understand why they’ve had to give up their space. Avoid this by purchasing an air mattress for you and your husband to sleep on in the den. Give Aunt Betty and Uncle Barney your bed.

Make Mealtime Easy

If your child doesn’t typically eat turkey and cranberry sauce, they aren’t going to start on Thanksgiving Day. Make sure to offer food choices that your children typically eat. If their favorite side dish is carrots, don’t make them too fancy. Steamed carrots are great for kids of all ages!

Want your little one to join in on meal time? Don’t plan to eat in the middle of nap time. Serve your turkey at noon. This will give you plenty of time to digest and unwind while they’re resting. If having lunch isn’t your thing, consider a 5 o’clock meal time – this early evening time will work with your toddler’s clock, and allow for digestion and a sandwich before you head off to bed!

Get Outside!

It isn’t fun for toddlers to be stuck inside all day while you’re cooking. Take a break and head outside to play. A nice walk around the neighborhood will give everyone some much need – and well deserved – fresh air!

How will you be keeping your toddler happy on Thanksgiving?

This is part of series of posts titled Motherhood Mondays where I’ll be sharing my parenting experiences, tips and advice.  If there is a specific topic you would like to see in the coming weeks, please email me with Motherhood Mondays in the subject line.

About Emily

Combining her knack for storytelling and passion for creativity with a strong work ethic, Emily started Nap Time is My Time in November 2010. A self-taught photographer and home cook, she also loves DIY projects and crafts, drinking Margaritas and running half marathons. Married to her Texas-born husband since 2005, they live with their young son and dog on Cape Cod.


  1. Love the line about strange relatives!

    Great tips.
    Meg recently shared..There’s No Crying in Toddler Soccer!My Profile

  2. What a great list. I remember how frustrating holidays were with my first. I wanted my daughter to be cute for family that had not met her and all of the chaos just turned her into a grump.

  3. Tami Vollenweider says:

    It’s true you get so involved in cooking and preparing everything,you can get so stressed. Take a break and spend a little time with your little one,to enjoy a few laughs together!!

  4. thankfully we don’t have much of a routine to disrupt!! 😀 we will be at my folks place for Thanksgiving, so thanks for the great ideas!! we will definitely get outside some & bring some toys & familiar food just in case!! 🙂

  5. we usually go for a walk on Thanksgiving too
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  6. These are really helpful ideas. When my kids were little, I’d always have them nap right after we ate no matter where we were on the holidays. And if all they want to eat is rolls, who cares! It is your kid, you can decide what to give them 🙂
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  7. That is an interesting point. I notice how some parents expect their child to eat traditional Thanksgiving dinner, without considering how it is new to them. I hate when kids are forced to eat with shifty eyes across the table. Some parents really want their guests impressed and hate to see their child reject or waste food. They need to be more considerate. Thanks for sharing these tips. Happy Thanksgiving!
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  8. Huguette E. says:

    Great tips and remember to enjoy each minute of spending Thanksgiving with them. My daughter is turning 20 next week and it seems like yesterday that I needed these tips. I miss that time.

  9. When my baby boy is a toddler I’ll defnitely be following these tips. I think kids need to stay busy so they stay out of trouble and also it helps them learn more about nature. I’ll be the one encouraging my boy to play outside. Thanks for great tips!
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  10. We don’t do the whole Thanksgiving meal thing in our family so there’s not a lot of prep work. Usually, we will pick up a couple pies and head over to my parents’ place. Sometimes my dad will try a new recipe for the occasion. One year, he spent the whole day making stuffed Cornish hens and they were delish.

    Anyway, my daughter does have a routine of sorts so when we expect a disruption, we give her a heads-up. She does NOT like to be rushed.

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