“I wonder if we’re so busy creating the perfect atmosphere for our families that we’re missing it. Are we part of the memories that our kids are making? Or will their Christmas memories include a blur of Mom rushing from one task to the next? We might set the stage for Christmas activities and fun, but if we don’t allow ourselves to stop and fully take part in those activities, what’s the point? Our haste may be costing us more than we realize.” -Jennifer, The Simple Pen
I was pondering this blog post and what I wanted to touch on and just as I was checking my facebook, I saw the above quote. It sums it all up, the feeling of having to do it all and do it fast…..and at what cost of our children?
Simple is often very good.
The holidays seem to “belong” to young children. So many social customs and family traditions revolve around children and the magic of the season. Still, in this day and age, the holidays can get very busy. Driving to visit family members, hosting out-of-town visitors, and covering all the bases can result in children doing a lot of running and less enjoying. And can make for a overwhelmed mom who is not feeling very “Joyful.”
Instead of creating a long list of all the things to ‘get out and do’ perhaps consider how you can share together time in the things you can do together. Everything does not need to be a big production. Here are some tips to find ways to create less busy and more time together:
This can be a challenge for parents. We just want to get the gift wrapping done and the food cooked, and we’d rather have the kids out of the way. But if you’re looking for ways to spend quality time with them, then all those necessary tasks are a good place to look for ways to incorporate your kids.
How about letting them make the wrapping paper? Roll out a long sheet of paper or large pieces from a drawing pad, and let your kids draw whatever they like. They can also dip their hands in finger paint and make colorful prints. Relatives love gifts wrapped in this kind of paper!
Young children can also be included in decorating and food preparation. Try to shift your focus from having everything look perfect to spending that quality time with your kids. I admit, I am a perfectionist and recovering from a Martha Stewart type attitude of having to have everything match and look professional. Allowing things to be a little “off” to share in the experience is something I am learning to be better at.
Get together with your kids and set aside some time to hand-make decorations. You can make inedible dough ornaments, paper chains, swags, wreaths, paper snowflakes, and other decorations with your kids. Children especially love lights at holiday time – let them help you string them and arrange them inside and out. I have even been known to put lights in their room!
Start a Fun Tradition
Do you have a favorite holiday tradition you remember as a child? Maybe things were different then, but you can still resurrect some of those old traditions, or start a new one. Children don’t necessarily need an elaborate, time-consuming activity; many times, the memory is what counts and simple activities can build lovely memories. For example, spend a morning making holiday cookies and give some to local shut-ins or nursing home residents. Go looking for fresh greens to cut and weave wreaths together each year.
Doing an advent calendar and bible readings is a great tradition to start and keep for years to come. When I was a single mom we started some very cheap and easy Christmas traditions and still do them to this day.
Host a Simple Holiday Party
Hosting a holiday party for your kids’ friends can be a great way to spend some time with them and create a tradition. Even just an after school Hot Chocolate Bar party is simple and fun and a way to spend time together as well as share hospitality. Grab some hot chocolate, toppings and invite a few friends over. Play Christmas music and enjoy sharing time together. Getting your kids involved in the preparation of planning, prep and decorating is a great activity to share.
This time of year is always one where being inside and snuggled up is good! Pick a good book to read together in the evenings after dinner a few nights a week. You can pick a holiday classic or perhaps one on everyone’s list to read. I love Little House in the Big Woods, by Laura Ingalls Wilder – I hope my 4 year old will let me read that to him one day, but I might have to find something a little more fierce!