With Christmas nearly here it’s a good time to really focus on what really matters to kids at this time of year. All the gifts they beg for are just the things they think they want. Most of them probably won’t be remembered. But other things will be far more memorable.
1. Time spent as a family.
Kids aren’t too prone to asking for this one, although my daughter loves to beg for family adventures. That generally means going someplace she thinks are exciting.
But not everything must be an adventure. We spent a long time yesterday and today making a graham cracker house (my kids don’t like gingerbread). They were utterly delighted, and may well remember it for a long time. It’s incredibly sticky work, and not a particularly healthy thing to do, but such fun!
We also read together every night. It’s the little things you do as a family that really help children to feel loved and secure.
2. Keep the stress level down.
This can be a very stressful time, as any parent knows. Kids don’t always realize when they’re stressed as such. Don’t overschedule your holidays, even if there’s a lot of pressure to see everyone and participate in every family activity. Sometimes it’s best to ease up a little.
We keep Christmas morning as our time. No running around visiting people, although if someone wants to come by we would probably welcome them. This took some time to build, as my husband wanted to keep going to his parents first thing. But I pointed out that they didn’t go running around visiting first thing when he was a kid, and it’s more fun for kids to come running out of their rooms first thing to see their presents and have leisure to open them.
Make it fun!
3. Be honest about what they can expect as gifts.
Don’t tell them what they’re getting, but do talk honestly about the possibilities. High expectations can lead to big disappointment. And if you can’t afford the dream gift, just say so.
“Sorry honey, no pony!”
4. Build traditions.
I suspect the graham cracker house thing may end up as a tradition. We did a gingerbread house last year, and that’s how I know that they don’t like gingerbread.
But we also have a family gathering with my husband’s side of the family on Christmas Eve night. He really, really looks forward to it. It’s an extended family thing, so lots of relatives he sees only at times like that. My daughter loves it too, since one cousin on that side is just a month older than she is. And of course Santa makes an appearance.
5. Make it about more than the presents.
Pretty much along the lines of the rest of this post. Kids love presents. I won’t pretend otherwise. But they really want to do things that they will remember. Playing with family members, doing fun things will mean a lot more in the long run.