Just in time for the holidays, Jo answered 10 questions that all parents and caretakers (at one point or another) may struggle with during the holiday season. From treats and routines to believing in santa and even bundling up the baby, Jo has some of your most burning topics covered.
1) Holiday Treats and Limits. ‘Tis the season to be jolly and most of us feel that way when we are dipping our hand in the candy jar that one extra time telling our little ones, “Okay then, just one more” and before you know it, all the cookies are gone! Yes, it is true we indulge a little over the festivities — and maybe a little too much of this and that. However, I still believe the best way to handle holiday treats is with moderation. Let us not abuse the extra treats we look forward to. In our house it was a given that dad was coming home with a bag full of chocolate gold coins for the Christmas week. We had the responsibility in limiting ourselves to 1 or 2 so that we could savor them every day. The bottom line is limit. Stipulate how many candies your children can take from the box. Do not reward behavior with these holiday treats. Quite simply, if you don’t buy as many, problem solved! Use your common sense. You hardly want to allow them one before they are having a mealtime, and you don’t want to be doing it everyday.
2) Breaking From the Daily Routine. Holiday breaks allow us to cut our kids some slack and create a daily routine that can be fun and flexible. Keep to the cornerstones of a routine: i.e. mealtimes and naps for younger children will be key for stability. You can certainly give and take pushing bedtime a little later if you have relatives over for the evening, or a bunch of kids over for a sleepover, knowing they don’t have to be up and at ‘em early in the morning.
3) Travel Activities. Imagination…remember that? Before the day of too many things to pack, we didn’t have such luxury. It meant that our children would argue and have conversations at the same time in the back of the car. It meant that they would listen to the lyrics of a song and actually learn them and sing along on the next replay. It meant your kids became more observant of the things in life surrounding them beyond the car window. It meant they paid attention, took notice, and questioned with curiosity. It meant that they would have to ‘think’ of what fruit began with ‘P’ and be corrected when a red car was burgundy. It meant that they would draw, listen, or read in altitudes where they couldn’t stop at a gas station. They learned the art of patience behind the eternal question, “Are we there yet?’ It meant that parents didn’t have indecisiveness from too much choice. But what we did have was the journey, because that was always a memorable part of reaching the destination.
4) Helping Prepare for the Holidays. Based on your child’s capability and maturity, there are many things we can do to involve our children in the Christmas festivities. After all isn’t it about all muckin’ in at this time of the year? So instead of me giving you age appropriate tasks, I will list a few and you decide.
–Making and putting up the holiday decorations
–Decorating the tree
–Bundling all the used wrapping paper into one big trash bag
–Making Thank You cards and sending holiday cards
–Setting up the dining table
–Placing the napkins and decorations on the table
–Peeling and preparing veg beforehand
–Helping with breakfast in the morning
–Filling the stockings for each other’s siblings
–Taking the dogs for a walk on Christmas day
–Helping with the centerpiece
–Help with the shopping
–Helping with outside house decorations
5) Wrapping Presents. The decision to wrap, unwrap, or personalize paper are your own choice. Parents with younger children say “all the presents come from Santa,” so maybe use different paper or different sacks for those. Economically, what is better for you as a family? If you are putting all the presents into one sack it might be a fun idea to use a sleeping blindfold or have your child look away as they dip their hand into the sack and pick the next one (so as not to give away the others that are in the bag). Personally, there is something magical about watching kids faces as they tear the paper off their prezzies. Newspaper or giftwrapping from the dollar store? Who cares?! Kids don’t!
6) Believing and Not Believing. It’s all about the magic and spirit at Christmas. If what once held your child’s belief no longer exists, please do your best to encourage that child to not spill the beans for the younger ones. I have always found from experience that there seems to be this thrill that the older children have just joined the big people’s club and know a secret that the younger ones don’t. But, there is Santa right? 😉
7) Gift-Giving. Like I said above, most parents keep the magic of Santa by buying younger children gifts from their Santa lists. As children become a little bit older, they get gifts from Santa and from family members and so forth. In the tween and teen years, children start to show initiative of buying siblings, parents, grandparents, or cousins little Christmas tokens. I think the best gift you can give your children is the gift of showing charity to others in need.
8) Gift-giving on a Budget. Transparency is key when their Santa list reaches financial limits. Quantity is not the point, but rather eliminating a child’s appetite for much when they’re seduced by commercials around Christmastime, is what is important. Start the Santa list three weeks before Christmas and then have them eliminate, eliminate, eliminate and eventually you’ll get to the bottom of what they really really want.
9) “But Santa will bring that game you won’t let me have!” Santa knows age appropriate toys. Santa knows that video games have age restrictions on them, too! Santa knows what is allowed and what isn’t allowed because his magic elves know each house they send to. Parents also know, too. So there is no harm done as a parent stipulating to your kids that certain games are a no-no. I’m sure those conversations can be had when your flicking through a catalogue together, watching a commercial, or walking the aisles of Target.
10) Baby, it’s cold outside. When we are outside with our children, we want to make sure they are dressed appropriately for such outside conditions. It’s all about the layers! Newborns are not physically active and their body does not regulate temperature until they are over 6 months old. So, four layers of garments are essential for newborns: Under-vest, top layer, second layer, and outdoor layer all in one. Depending on the outer garment for a toddler, we will need to make sure that they have an under-layer, a top layer, and a second layer. Closed feet, hands, and head will keep 80% of the heat in — and in some extreme weather conditions. What will be imperative is the amount of time your child spends outside. As toddlers they have the ability to talk and will let you know if they are too hot (and then you can take off an under garment, as long as the outer garment is kept on). With newborns, please be cautious. Babies will cry if they are too hot or too cold. Be mindful, be cautious, and keep your park visit duration relative to the weather!! NOTE: when indoors, take layers off accordingly.
Copywritten by Jo Frost