The festive holiday season is often portrayed in films as the perfect family time with snow falling outside and families gazing lovingly as children excitedly open their presents by the tree. This means that parents often feel under pressure to try to make everything ‘Christmas card’ perfect. However, parents can often feel that they are juggling multiple activities such as cooking or worrying about welcoming guests instead of enjoying their time with their children. Here are some suggestions and helpful hints to enable you to make the most of your holiday period.
1. It’s not all about the presents
Children often enjoy the process of opening presents rather than playing with what is inside. Think about presents that you can buy more of but can wrap individually. For example, books are often reasonably priced so they can help with keeping costs down and will be much-loved gift enabling your child to spend time with you sharing the book together for weeks, months and years to come. Try to give children ‘project presents’ ahead of the celebration meal. These could be low-mess high-interest activities which a child can do independently, for example something which involves colouring. This means that the children will be involved in exciting new tasks, leaving you free to carry out any last-minute preparations. For example, colouring and decorating paper placemats for themselves and visitors.
2. It’s not all about the food
We can all feel the pressure to provide a picture-perfect banquet fit for social media. Try to think about what food can be prepared prior to the day of celebrations. For example, can roast potatoes be peeled and pre-boiled the day before? This is something which will help you to balance your time cooking with spending time with your family and guests. As suggested in the first tip, give children small, fun tasks to help with the arrangements. Why not check out some of our 125 winter activities to do with teaching? You could also ask visiting adults that the children are familiar with to carry out some of these whilst you may be busy.
3. It’s not about trying to please everyone
The Christmas period often means spending time with relatives and friends whom you may not see as often as you’d like. This can leave us feeling like we are running a gauntlet of trying to visit people, often in unfamiliar surroundings for our little ones. It is okay to ensure you have regular windows of time where you can spend quality time at home and keeping in time with your little one’s routines of bedtimes and eating. Hugging unfamiliar relatives can also be daunting and confusing for young children. A thank you, wave or blowing a kiss is okay (why not see our previous blog on The Power of Hugs).
4. It’s about time with family
Children value time spent with others. Activities that are full of language can often be the most memorable Christmas moments for children. For example, going out for a walk and talking about experiences from earlier in the day. This is also a great way to use additional energy from the excitement of Christmas and the higher levels of sugar if they have had ‘treat’ foods. My children often discuss times spent playing their favourite board games as a family and the laughter involved, especially when someone was found not to be playing ‘strictly’ by the rules. Remember: board games should be fun so you may have to adapt rules and instructions to fit with the stage of understanding of your little ones. Children remember the fun times!
5. It's about making memories
As mentioned above, children cherish your time and moments spent together. Children don’t remember the under-par roast potato, the lumpy gravy or a dry turkey. Instead, they do remember the way their parent smiled as they excitedly unwrapped their presents rather than what was inside the box. How happy times were spent with the people they love when walking off their Christmas dinner, and sharing experiences through games and activities. Remember everything doesn’t have to be perfect for sharing on social media. In fact, the best times are spent away from these platforms. Instead, connect with the people around you and enjoy having moments that your children will cherish for a lifetime to come.
On behalf of myself and everyone at Norland; we wish you a very Merry Christmas and a happy, healthy new year.