In today’s world where we share a lot (everything?) on social media, it’s easy to get caught up in what someone else’s traditions are, and a keeping up with the Joneses type of scenario. Here are five things parents should bear in mind during the holidays as you travel through this year’s hectic Holiday Season.
It’s up to you and your partner which traditions you participate in.
I know, I know! Everyone and their brother is jumping on the Elf on a Shelf tradition but you don’t have to do it if you don’t want to. And you should have absolutely no guilt about not doing it, any more than you should if you choose to do it. Same goes for Santa, St. Nicholas, trees and everything else. Pick and choose which traditions you want to participate in and that’s that!
In our house we do Santa, we do milk and cookies for Santa and we sprinkle some oats outside for the reindeer. We put up a tree, we fill stockings, we go to Christmas Eve service at church, and we put family before anything else during the holidays. We do not do Elf on a Shelf. We do not do St. Nicholas. And Santa does not bring gifts for our pets. Those are the traditions we participate in. Period.
It is not your job to buy your child every single thing they put on their list!
I’ve lost track of how many friends I have seen posts on Facebook that they’re scrambling to find a particular toy because little Tommy or Susie asked for it. How many times have I seen someone say they’re completely finished shopping only now their child added something to the list so they have to get it? Did your child ask for something ridiculous? Something you just don’t plain want to buy, for financial or other reasons? It’s perfectly fine to NOT buy every single item on the list for Santa.
When I was a kid I put the exact same item on my list to Santa every single year. My sister and I would dive into the Sears and JCPenney’s catalogs the moment they arrived and create our wish-list. And that’s exactly what it was, a wish list, not a demand list, or a “we’ve got to have this stuff” list. Oh my God, isn’t it time to unplug a little? Every single year we asked for a cardboard playhouse. Now, as an adult and a parent, I get why my parents didn’t want to spend money on this item. It was basically a cardboard box, decorated to look like a house.
I’m sure we created the same thing on many occasions ourselves! Every year my parents said that it would be silly to get it because the first time it was outside in the rain it would be ruined. I didn’t care, I wanted that playhouse. With that playhouse, my childhood dreams would be fulfilled. I never got one. I get why now and more importantly I never once had a bad Christmas morning because that stupid thing wasn’t under the tree. My parents got me things I didn’t ask for, some I did ask for, and a whole lot of really awesome gifts. Christmas morning was awesome, no matter what was under the tree!
The holidays should be enjoyable for parents and for kids.
If you’re feeling stressed and anxious chances are your kids are too. Think back to your best childhood memories, chances are they aren’t about the most expensive or elaborately wrapped gifts, they more likely involve the time spent with family enjoying each other and creating memories. Don’t get so caught up in creating the perfect holiday that you miss watching the magic and joy of the season reflected in your children’s eyes. And let’s be honest…there are so many things we can learn from our children, right?
Create a schedule you can live with—and enjoy!
When it comes to the holidays it sometimes feels like everyone wants a piece of your time, in-laws, grandparents, school programs, dance recitals, visits with Santa…the list can get long and out of control quickly! Set your priorities and stick to the list. If anyone doesn’t make the list and still wants to see you, they’re welcome to come to you and spend some time with you at your home when the kids are relaxing after opening gifts on Christmas day.
There is nothing worse than packing a cranky kid in the car who doesn’t understand why they can’t play with the new toy they just opened because you promised Grandma you’d be there a half an hour ago. It may feel like mission work, so have some mercy. Tell Grandma to come to you, save yourself the hassle and let Grandma see the kids in their Christmas pajamas. It’s a win, win!
Take at least one moment to remember what the holiday is really about.
When all the wrapping paper has been stuffed into the recycle bin, and all the toys have been wrestled free of their ridiculous packaging, the holiday isn’t really about those things at all. No matter what your religious beliefs are, there’s a reason for the holiday that’s bigger than presents. Whatever you believe, take a moment to soak it in and make sure your kids see you do it. The ornaments don’t have to be placed on the tree perfectly, the bows don’t have to color coordinate the wrapping paper, and the pictures don’t have to be perfect. After that is all packed away, it’s the memories you will really treasure, so help your children learn that lesson above all the others the season for us.
Whatever holidays you celebrate, may they be merry, bright and filled with the spirit of the season and family this year!