I wrote this parent education article for the Little School House newsletter and it pretty much sums up my Holiday Philosophy/Goal. I write that with a "/goal" because I don't always practice what I preach but I sure do try!
The holidays are here and do you know what that means? I hope that for your family it means many wonderful, rich and meaningful memories but for many of us that isn’t always the case. Do you feel overwhelmed and under pressure throughout the holiday season? Do you sometimes feel guilty about not having the perfect Martha Stewart tree or acquiring the seasons must have gift? Do you feel obligated to attend every holiday function you are invited to?
It is very easy to fall into the high-pressure trap of the holiday season and feel like you have to provide every holiday experience for your child. This season can be a joy to share with your young children if you remember to focus on the things you value for your family and if you consider your child’s unique needs and ways of experiencing things.
Here are some questions to think about when choosing activities to do with your 3, 4 or 5 year old:
How much of this can my child do? What pace does my child prefer? Will this activity disrupt my child’s day or add spontaneity? If one activity fits, will two?
It is often the very simple and probably inexpensive things that your children will remember the most. I sincerely hope that your emphasis during the holiday season is on creating meaning through a few simple experiences and on developing family traditions that your children will associate with the holiday season. I hope that you will take the time to think back on past holiday experiences and reflect on how they fit with your family. Give yourself permission to say no to the things that don’t fit. Do less, not more. Keep your days as relaxed and simple as possible. If you start to feel overwhelmed by the holidays, your child is probably feeling that way too. Instead, treat your family to the best thing about holidays and families: Laughter and fun.
Some ideas for families with young children:
* Bundle up and take a short walk through your neighborhood to look at lights.
* Lie on the floor under your Christmas tree and look up at the lights. You can share Christmas memories or just listen to some beautiful Christmas music.
* Decorate cookies (with emphasis on process, not product) and deliver them to a friend or neighbor.
* Make some popcorn strings and hang them on a tree outside. Watch for birds or squirrels stopping by to have a nibble.
* Read a Christmas book together.
* Watch the snow fall or gaze at the winter stars.
* Help your child choose some of her own artwork to give to a relative or friend. She can tell you about it and you can write down her words to enclose with the gift.
* Visit the State or City tree and talk about it. Where did it come from? How tall do you think it is? How did it get here? How long did it take to decorate it?
* Cut out some snowflakes from white paper and hang them on doorways or on windows.
*Help someone (in a way that is easy for a preschooler to understand) For example: Shovel your neighbor’s driveway together.
* Help your child make play dough. Wrap a ball of it up with cellophane and a ribbon and give it to a friend.