Involving Kids in Efforts to Make Holidays Special
From wrapping gifts to teaching them how to shop on a budget, the holidays are a good time for children to learn.
When thinking of the holiday season, we usually concern ourselves with the positive connotations. Commercials show us nothing but smiles on children's faces as they open their gifts, holiday movie classics have happy endings no matter how bad things get, even holiday greeting cards often have a family picture with big, hopefully real, smiles.
But we all know the stress and frustrations the holidays bring. As parents, we always need to be aware of our attitudes and behavior around our kids.
Sure, kids can get excited about the big Christmas ham every year, or the way the house looks covered in festive lights. They will remember opening presents and seeing family that they don't often see. But they'll also remember that the season brings Dad yelling about a burned out bulb ruining the lights he's been stringing on the roof for two hours. They'll remember being ignored when aunts and uncles come over and "family time" doesn't include them in "adult" conversations. They'll remember Mom losing her temper over "spilled milk" after a long day of cooking, wrapping and shopping.
Here are some ideas on how you can give your kids a look into how much effort goes into making the holidays memorable. It'll involve them with grown-up stuff, which kids often love, and maybe move a bit of the work off your plate and onto theirs:
- For every decoration you put up, make your kids match it. You put an ornament on the tree, they put an ornament on the tree. You can teach them your system of decoration, like filling in empty spots or putting heavier things on higher branches, and you'll only have half the work.
- Make them buy gifts. Rather than buying gifts for the kids to give to family members, if they're old enough to do basic math, give them some money and work out a simple budget together. If money is tight, take them to the Dollar Tree in Clawson and help them decide which gifts fit their budget. Kids won't understand how money works until they're taught, and holiday shopping is the perfect opportunity.
- Kids can make clever presents. Our kids make all kinds of arts and crafts at school. My son Johnny is always bringing home colorful projects and interesting decorations that he made at Kenwood Elementary. Don't be afraid to get creative with them, they certainly know how. I love it when Johnny walks on my back when it's sore. I would certainly love a coupon book from him with a few "5 Free Minutes of Back-Walking" certificates in it.
- Having the kids wrap some presents can lead to just about anything. To start, take them with you to Hallmark or Staples in Clawson so they can help pick out supplies. When you get home, give them some tape or glue, magazines or wrapping papers and child-friendly scissors and you just might get some decoupage masterpieces under the tree or for a gift-exchange. At the very least, you'll keep them busy for a little while.