Entries from December 1, 2008 - January 1, 2009
Sometimes I get so much done when I am not doing what I should be.
Wonderful posts get written while dust and dog hair pile up. Amazing dinners are cooked while avoiding writing the Ephesians talks. I never skip the study part of Bible teaching. I really enjoy studying. However, occasionally white page block has me doing other things until deadlines force my mind to focus and produce cohesive thoughts to share with others.
The house gets cleaned while I should be running errands or returning phone calls. Calls are done while I making e-card drops. Errands get done while I am avoiding thinking about what to make for dinner. Somehow, the wash always gets done and homeschool is accomplished more or less.
If I am really in avoidant mode, I watch TV (during the day!) and catch up on TiVo and knit. How can you be goofing off if inch after inch of scarf is gliding off your needles?
When Real Simple arrives each month, that event signals a 2-hour life stop. I sit, I read, I rip out recipes and articles I will never look at again. I feel something has been accomplished in those two hours as I carefully put all the rip outs in a folder with all the other ones from previous life stop sessions.
Too much goofing off will becomes counter productive, but I am surprised how I get done while I am avoiding doing what I should be doing.
Do you have a productive way of goofing off?
If you don’t regularly attend, consider taking the kids to church through out the season, not just on Christmas Day. Talk about the connection between why we go to church and why we celebrate Christmas.
Limit gift receiving. This is tough. If you train a 3 year old to expect everything they ask for, you will have a 9 year old too jaded to appreciate what she receives and you will go broke trying to please a teenager. Some families limited gifts by number, which works well if you have more than one preschool child. Some limit gift receiving by budget amounts. This works better with older children. If grandparents flood your child with gifts one easy way to limit gifts, especially if you have younger children is not to buy any yourself. Younger kids are not going to remember who gave them what. If grandparents are visiting and are over generous gift givers, you could suggest they give experiences instead of too many toys. Trips to the museums (perhaps with a family membership that can be enjoyed all year), the park, the ice cream store, McDonalds, the movies, the bookstore, all create special memories that will out last most any toy grandma purchases.
Buy toys with high play value. Anything with batteries, except remote control cars which are really cool, are not going to be played with much in a few months. Plus the cost of batteries adds up. Dolls, books, art supplies, building toys, cars track, action figures, quality videos, classic games like Uno, Candyland, Shoots and Ladders, swing sets, balls, riding toys, dress up clothes, sports stuff, the less a toy does for a child, the more a child needs to manipulate it, the more long term play value it seems to have. I always informed my kids early in the season that I was not going to go crazy trying to find popular but difficult to find toys. Santa wasn’t going to go crazy either. Don’t even put it on the list. Teaching children to be content means teaching them their desires don’t justify driving others, including mom, crazy. I had a friend got up at 4 am to drive to another state to a toy store rumored to be getting in the “must have” toy of the season. She did it because she said not having that toy would “ruin his Christmas.” Bah humbug! If your child’s Christmas is “ruined” because he doesn’t receive one particular present among all he does receive, you have spoiled that child and you better start contentment training now.
Take your time opening gifts. Some suggestions: One family member at a time opens a gift while everyone else watches or every family member opens one gift each at the same time. This includes the adults. You want to give your child time to appreciate each individual gift and to grow to understand other people enjoy getting stuff also. You want them to grow to understand they can be part of someone else’s pleasure.
I love watching my kids open their Christmas presents. I look forward to the quite hours Christmas afternoon when contented children are off playing with their gifts. I also love not fearing the next credit card bill arriving, not having run myself ragged looking for the “must have” toy that has limited play value or having demanding children disappointed because I have not preformed up their expectations.
After all…tis the season to be jolly……
Please share anything you do/did that would be of help to other parents in a comment.
These are some suggestions to help tame the greedies and help children develop a content heart during the Christmas season. I haven’t used all of them with my kids and you won’t want to either. I hope these ideas get you thinking about the goal of raising content children and what you and your spouse will do, during the holidays, to help your child develop that character trait.
Shift the focus of the Christmas celebration away from gift receiving. Your kids will focus on getting presents without any further encouragement from you. Some ideas for shifting focus:
Expand the season beyond Christmas morning. Make it a tradition to make decorations, cookies, cards or easy gifts before Christmas day with your child. Talk about why you are making these things and the pleasure they will bring to others. Go light hunting, have an open house, visit a living Nativity, go to a Christmas parade…..plan other special events in addition to gift receiving your child will enjoy.
Teach them the Christmas accounts from Matthew and Luke. Teaching is not just reading the Christmas accounts on Christmas Eve. It could involve reading the Christmas accounts and letting them act it out with a child safe nativity set. Talk about the reason we celebrate Christmas as you pass yet another Santa in the stores. Watch the “Little Drummer Boy” or “A Charlie Brown Christmas “with them. Down play the feel good but have little to do with Christmas “special” that abound this time of year. Ask questions about the Matthew and Luke accounts through out the season.
Sing religious Christmas Carols in addition to holiday songs with your kids. Talk about the meaning of the words they are singing.
Turn off the T.V. or limit T.V. viewing. Commercials feed the greedies. Allow children to look through catalogs in November to get ideas for their lists. Hide the ones you want to order from. Throw out everything else right away. It is amazing how much a child can desire a toy he didn’t know existed 5 minutes ago.
Make Christmas lists early. Lists are not much help with preschools but they are useful in taming the greedies in school age children. Our kid's lists where done by mid November and posted on the refrigerator. Nothing could be added after Thanksgiving Day.
Teach children to state preferences as preferences not demands. “I want”, “Get me ….., “. “ Can I have…..” not acceptable: period. If a child wants to communicate a preference for a certain gift not on the list, “I am interested in…..” allows a child to state a preference without the expectation that you must get what they ask for.
Participate in an Angle tree gift with your child. If your church or school does a food drive, help older children earn some money to buy canned good they can place in the collection basket. Again talk about why they are giving food to those who need it this time of year.
More anazingly insightful suggestions tomorrow. Please share your own in a comment!
Tis the season to be greedy…. fa-la-la-la, la-la-la. A common parental lament even among preschool parents is how demanding their children become at the end of the year. With two major faiths having gift giving traditions in December children are quickly trained to expect a mother load of goodies at year’s end. If our kids don’t have long enough lists or extravantent enough gift dreams, television and retail marketing step in to encourage higher and high expectations. We are way beyond visions of sugarplums dancing in their heads. To complicate matters, competitive grandparenting is raised to the level of an Olympic contest, the prize not a gold medal and millions in revenue but the golden glow of a 4 year old’s affection and delight.
Christmas time brings to the fore a challege faced by all discerning parents: how to raise content children in a materialistic society. Parents who do not celebrate Christmas have to face the overwhelming barrage of Christmas hype. Parents who celebrate Christmas endure the hype, plus their children’s and extended families’ expectations of what the perfect Christmas should be. Perfect usually includes lots and lots of stuff, preferably gifted wrapped. What is a parent to do?
In terms of child training, Christmas is just an extended time of contentment training. Kids learn to be happy and content with what they have when they aren’t expecting more and more. That means setting limits and saying no often. The best time to figure out the principles that guide parental decisions about buying stuff for the kids or the amount of stuff they may receive from others is before the Christmas season. Having those principles in place frees parents to respond to the seasonal sales and gift hype based on how best to teach children to be content, rather than impulse or guilt. A peaceful holiday season with happy kids Christmas morning is a beautiful thing.
We canceled our newspaper subscription. This was a harder decision for us to make than you would think. For 25 years, the newspaper was daily in our home. Ours is a moderately liberal paper and we are a moderately conservative twosome. The paper challenged our thinking, exposed us to other ways of seeing the world. It made it easy to vote. I could take the list of recommended candidates to the polls and vote for the other gal.
It was a well-written paper with informative local and world news. The sports section was beloved by my son and husband. When he wouldn’t read anything else, my son would read the sports page.
The comic page was always read in our home. My kids aged as the kids in For Better or Worse did. I like having a daily crossword puzzle to puzzle over. One I could usually finish.
The paper arrived on or about our property through ice storms and hurricanes. If for some reason, our paper wasn’t to be found, one call to customer service caused one to be delivered later in the day.
Things changed: The sports section seems to be the only section unscathed by the changes. The comics went from one column to three; the crossword became way too easy. The religion section became a religion column; the food section began to shrink.
The pictures were becoming more appropriate to page 6 of the NYPOST than our family friendly southern newspaper.
The change that made us decide to cancel is the loss of world and in-depth local overage of the news. I can get news bites from CNN and Fox News online. Our paper is buying out or is laying off the local investigative reporters and commentators. The front page sometimes is more tabloid in content that hard news. There are more ads than reporting.
We can get our world news online, by radio or on TV free. We can’t get in-depth local coverage from our local newspaper anymore. I guess I will buy USA Today occasionally for their crossword puzzle.
I will miss the way things were. Good-bye old friend...you changed and I will miss you.