I recently read something from a friend that is exactly how I feel about the Christmas. She wrote “I used the think the best thing was being a kid on Christmas morning, it turns out it’s having kids on Christmas morning.”
As parents we find the meaning of Christmas again by the reactions and kid-isms that our children show us during the holiday season. There are so many moments that make my heart swell just watching my boys prepare for the big day.
If you are a parent of a child of school age, you know the teachers are anxiously preparing a special project with their class to give you for Christmas. These gifts that my children have given me are some of the most cherished gifts I have ever received. I know it sounds cheesy, but it’s true! Because those little hands took so much time and effort to create something meaningful for me that they knew I would like.
And isn’t that the real meaning behind any gift?
As a parent in the age of Pinterest and Instagram, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed with all the picture-perfect homes and wrappings and styled decorations that “everyone” has up. But here are some simple ideas to make the holidays fun and meaningful for you and your little one.
1- Put down that phone! Maybe you love taking pictures and sharing them to friends and family and the universe. And maybe you have one of those styled-up homes worthy of Instagram, but if not, please don’t give it another thought. Use you phone this holiday to take pictures for yourself as cherished memories. Forgo the urge to compete with the overrated version of perfection that is IG and enjoy the moments.
2- Craft it up just for fun. This is for you and your child. Take full advantage of messing up, getting dirty, and giggling until you are done. Whether it’s a handprint for your baby’s first Christmas made into an ornament, or a simple painting activity with your toddler, or a gingerbread house that looks like an angry giant stepped on it, these moments are what your child will remember, not what the end result will be. Cherish it!
3- Keep your holiday meal simple. Resist the urge to recreate every family side dish and baked good in order to keep with tradition. With a little one, as you know, meals can be challenging, so give your holiday meal a break. Stick to a couple of favorites and spread them out over the many holiday days. Your child will not remember how plentiful the holiday table was, but how yummy one or two things tasted.
4- Talk it out. It can be hard to change your holidays, especially if you are accustomed to a traditional role in the holidays with your family. But take a moment to speak with your in-laws or parents or anyone else you share the big days with and explain how much you can do and what kind of schedule your child is on. It may not help completely, but it’s worth a shot. This way, if you need to leave early or put your child down for a nap in the middle of something important, at least everyone was forewarned.
Keeping the holidays simple is the best piece of advice I can give to parents of young children. And guess what? If you start this mentality now, it will stick! Simple holidays are not simple-minded, they are simple in ease and care. And those feeling make for a meaningful holiday for everyone.
Julia Chiarella-Genoni a.k.a. Mama MOE