How to Make the Holidays Fun for All

Merry Christmas.

In our home Christmas is the holiday we celebrate. But, of course, that’s not the only holiday on the calendar in December. However, whatever your custom and culture, the kids are excited, and you are trying to figure out how to make it a joyful time for all.

Our family is scaling down this year. We have three new babies (have I mentioned before that three perfect grandchildren entered my life this summer?) and we just moved. We downsized and we are also learning that moving gets tougher as you get older.

Our focus is going to be on being together, relaxing and simply enjoying the stress-free family time.

I have put together some ideas about enjoying not just surviving the holidays. I hope some of these tips will make your holiday a wonderful and enjoyable time. And I have two other ideas for you at the end of this article.

Make Your Holiday a Time of Joy

Many parents see Christmas as a time for children and assume they must sacrifice everything for the children, must do everything for the children and make the holiday a perfect and memorable experience for the children.

When my oldest child, Chelsea, was a baby and I was pregnant, I read a magazine article that saved our Christmas. I was ready to bake and decorate and shop ‘til I dropped.  This was my first Christmas as a parent and by golly it was going to be perfect! The author of this article wisely reminded me that the perfect Christmas memories of my childhood came from when I was older, not from when I was an infant. I considered my 11 month-old daughter and my rapidly expanding waistline (her brother was born 3 months later), and in coordination with my husband, designed a Christmas that made sense for us that year.

Chelsea loved the lights on the Christmas tree, chewed happily on the boxes containing gifts, and truly appreciated the relaxed and happy atmosphere of that holiday season. Every Christmas is not perfect; like everyone else, I sometimes get so involved in my dreams and expectations that I come close to ruining Christmas for myself, and everyone around me. But there are some guidelines that can help make Christmas a good time for all family members.

Extended Family:

Discuss your expectations and values with all family members who will be joining you over the holidays. Many problems arise due to clash in values (“But we always eat at noon.”) or expectations (“I just assumed that if I cooked Christmas dinner, you’d have us all over for the next holiday.”) Remember to deal with these issues each year there are new or different family members in town.  Missing this conversation can lead to dreadfully hurt feelings that no-one will understand.

Deal with whether you will be with his family or her family in clear fashion and in a way that is fair to all.  Two big meals in one day can ruin the holiday for you, to say nothing of your waistline.  Try to plan spending relaxed and comfortable time with whatever relatives you want to visit.

My cousin, parent to four adult married children and grandmother to eight, tells me that she rotates Christmas and Boxing Day.  One year they all show up on Christmas, the next year it’s Boxing Day.  So far, it’s working beautifully and all of her children’s in-laws agree.

Involving the Children

 Children who can write can help address Christmas cards, younger children can stamp and seal envelopes.

Kids love to help bake. We often get so tied up in the need for perfection, we can’t allow our children to do their best, to participate, and to proudly serve the cookies or squares they baked. The kids are underfoot while you’re trying to bake anyway, so you may as well get them working. These same children can take over the baking as they become ten or eleven after those earlier years of marvelous training.

There are many tasks for children in preparation of Christmas dinner; salad preparation, washing vegetables, tearing bread for stuffing, making decorative name tags for the table, setting the table, clearing up and washing the dishes (or loading the dishwasher).  All these jobs give children the opportunity of working alongside adults, doing real work.

Children love to be actively involved in choosing and decorating the tree, hanging a wreath, displaying cards.

In other words, Christmas is not just for children, it’s for all of us and if we all share in the planning, the preparation and the presentation of our holiday traditions, we can all share in the joy.

These concepts hold whether you celebrate Christmas or another winter holiday.  Make your holiday just that; your holiday. Consider the age of your children, the tradition, values and expectations of all family members, and only do what you can and want to do. Have a wonderful holiday season.

Bringing Parenting Today to your event

Parenting Today is keen to speak as part of your professional development event, parenting workshop or workplace wellness support program. 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.U.R.E. Parenting.

P — is a parenting plan

U — is unconditional love

R — is respect for your child as he is right now

E — is encouragement

These make up the framework of any resources that will come from Parenting Today. These four pillars are the essential ingredients for raising healthy children who will develop into capable young men and women.

A Gift idea for Tweens and Teens

If you have young people on your list who love to read fantasy, check out Holly Bennett’s books. They are fabulous and she is a Canadian author. Visit her site and check out these great books.

Need to Hire a Nanny?

Here is an article that came across my desk.  What do you think?

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