Children look forward to the holiday season, especially (for those who celebrate it) Christmas. For many kids it’s a time to get a ton of new toys, many of which will only be used a few times.
There are a lot of things I intend to do with my kids to get them ready for the holiday season. Some of it is to just plain clear things out, the rest to help them to understand what they should and should not be expecting from Christmas.
Step one, to be implemented within the next few weeks, is to agree on the toys we will be getting rid of. Due to the sheer range of stuff they receive for birthdays and prior Christmases I expect to be disposing of at least half.
My kids are unusually good about this. The last time we did a toy cleanout my daughter was delighted by the thought that poorer kids could get to use her toys that didn’t interest her anymore. She kept that up when we cleaned out her old clothes a month or two back. It may be a bit more difficult to deal with my son, who hasn’t had to do this himself before, but I think he can start to get the idea.
Step two is somewhat ongoing, due to my daughter’s current phase of wanting everything she sees a commercial for. Pretty much all parents know this phase, I think.
But I’ll be stepping it up pretty soon, as we update last year’s Christmas list. I have a website for my daughter, and one of the things it has is her Christmas wish list. Last year she couldn’t read, so I could get away with making comments on the things she was asking for, and let people know which things I really didn’t want her to have. It was the simple way of dealing with the fact that kids generally want much more than they ought to have.
But this year she’s just starting to read, and I think she’s old enough to understand why I won’t be putting everything she wants on her list. Of course if I did that, it would be pretty much the entire store.
I don’t expect my kids to want all the environmentally friendly stuff, but when I see something along those lines that appeals to them, I encourage it. I also encourage toys that require more creativity, and so avoid toys that are more set in what you’re supposed to do with them, as well as most television character toys.
Another thing I encourage them to ask for is craft supplies. I love to have a lot of things around the house that requires my kids to think, do and be creative. My kids have a box of supplies ready for all their whims. It can leave a mess but is so much fun to see.
I know some families get very picky about the toys their kids get and try to avoid plastic ones. That has always sounded pretty challenging to me, considering what is available these days. But I do want to be pickier about the plastic toys allowed. I find it hard to give up the idea of my kids playing with Legos, for one. It’s a tough decision sometimes.
Talking about what Christmas is and what it should be is very important to me. There are a lot of ideals beyond “gimme, gimme” that need to be taught. Sharing, giving to the less fortunate, for example. Appreciating what we do have. It takes time and patience to instill those values, but I hope to do well at it.