It’s time to start to get ready for the holidays. It’s tough with kids who are underfoot, who are excited and who are driving you nuts because they keep asking how many sleeps until the holidays.
Now, I have used the term Christmas because that’s the holiday I celebrate and invite you to simple replace that with your celebration. It’s all about letting the kids get involved. They will be easier to live with if they have a role in the preparation. So let’s talk about getting the kids involved.
Involve the Kids in Christmas Tasks
You turn the calendar page to December and suddenly the plans for Christmas loom. When you check the school holidays you realize the kids will be under foot for a whole long week before the holiday. How will you survive?
Start by figuring out what needs to happen. Even if you’re not usually a person who creates lists, I recommend you use a list to get organized for the holiday.
Every year I talk about the rule of 3s for this holiday (and any big event for that matter). Make a list of everything you need to do to get ready for Christmas. Take the list and put all the tasks in order of priority. What is most important (buying the turkey, decorating the tree, gifts for the kids)?
Now you have the list and it’s organized. But it’s still just too much, right? So divide it into three sections by importance of the task. Take the bottom section, the last third, rip that off and throw it away. Take the middle section, rip it off and put it in a drawer. Now you are left with a list you can handle, you have some supplementary things you can do if time and energy allows and you have tossed away all those unnecessary things.
Try it. It works.
If your children are ten years old or more, talk to them about all the tasks. Ask them what matters to them. You may be surprised to discover that the fussy, time-consuming cookies you bake are of no particular interest to them; they thought it mattered to you. Figure out what is important to each family member. Then you know whether what you are doing matters. It’s not just a question of what you believe, from reading all the magazine articles, which you ‘should’ do.
The next thing to do is to figure out how to handle the kids. They are excited and they don’t have school to distract them. The trick is to involve them. Sure, having a four-year-old or eight-year-old help is not particularly efficient but she’s there anyway. She can either drive you crazy on her terms as you try to work, or you can direct her energy to get involved in the process.
Before we talk about what they can do to help, let’s address the issue of times when you just need them out of the way.
Develop a buddy system. The parents of your kids’ friends are dealing with the same dilemma so share the problem. “I’ll take your kids for an afternoon if you’ll return the favour.” When it’s your turn to have all the kids get them making decorations, stringing popcorn that you can use on the tree or involve them in baking cookies.
When they are with your buddy, resist the urge to have a nap. Instead, head off on a purposeful shopping trip.
Kids can get involved in decorating the house or stringing popcorn for the tree.
If you are sending cards the old-fashioned way, little kids can stamp and close envelopes. Your older kids can address the cards and you may find your geek child will develop a database and print out address labels or print directly onto the envelopes. And your toddler can be lifted to the mailbox to send the cards on their merry way.
They love to bake and Christmas cookies are the best of all because they can be in fun shapes and have sprinkles on them. How cool is that?
Preschoolers can stir together dry ingredients, drop in chocolate chips and spread sprinkles on before baking. Don’t worry if they don’t look perfect. What will be perfect is the excitement of the child as she tells family and friends that she baked the cookies.
And, as a bonus, preschoolers who help become ten-year-olds who do the baking.
Have your children decorate the tree. Like the cookies, it’s not about it looking Martha Stewart perfect; it’s about it being the embodiment of the children’s vision. And yes it will be a bit bottom-heavy with decorations but if you ask nicely the kids will be happy to have you place some baubles and lights on the higher branches.
When you all work together it becomes a family happening rather than an overwhelming task. Work together and enjoy the preparation as well as the holiday.
Digital Books Make Parenting Information More Accessible.
There are times when digital is the perfect answer and let’s face, on a holiday having access to hundreds of books on one small tablet is ideal. I will have my kindle with me on the trip.
There are lots of times when a busy parent would like to be able to simply read and my books are digital and make it easier for you to take a look.
Two of my parenting books started as print versions but the third is only digital. The first two are also in digital format. Who’s in Charge Anyway? talks about roots. It provides a clear road map for parent to focus on the tough but rewarding job of raising children to be responsible, self-disciplined adults.
But Nobody Told Me I’d Ever Have to Leave Home talks about raising children to become capable young men and women.
Vive la Différence talks about kids with different temperaments.
I am told the books are down to earth and common sense as well as easy to read. If you want some basic parenting tips and information these books are a good place to start.
How Can I Bring Kathy to My Community?
I offer keynotes and workshops, have written books and have ongoing newspaper columns, books, blogs and newsletters.And, no matter what the actual topic, they all share a basic value that I call:
P — is a parenting plan
U — is unconditional love
R — is respect for your child as he is right now
E — is encouragement
I look forward to working with you for your professional development, workplace wellness or parenting education event.