Simplify the Holidays with Kids

16th November, 2010 / Parenting & Baby Tangents / 2 Comments

Christmas Tips for Breastfeeding Moms

Today we attended a La Leche League Enrichment Meeting.  Subject: Honing in the Holidays.  Off topic, a bit, from baby wraps, I know, but applicable (I’m guessing) to lots of the readers of this blog.

I wasn’t the one taking notes (Joanna should have written this entry), but I wanted to review some of the ideas that might be helpful to other families.

  • Don’t let your milk dry up by leaving a bottle of expressed milk and going shopping alone during nursing time!
  • Emphasize tradition, family, and experiences rather than possessions.
  • Don’t let the way other families (or other people in your family) do Christmas unduly effect you.

Doing an advent calendar?  Instead of a trinket or candy each day, plan an event (go to winter festival, put up Christmas tree, etc), schedule a craft (make glittery snowflakes), or have each pocket contain an ornament or decoration.  You could also have a special object in each pocket that gets moved to the subsequent pocket each day as a way to count down to the big day without unnecessary acquisition.  Or have a big paper Santa and have your children add one cotton ball to his beard each day until he’s got a full beard on Christmas. My friend Christal is wrapping up 25 childrens books and they will open one to read each night–I think that’s a tradition worth adopting whether you’re an advent calendar type or not!

Why does Santa bring so many (or so few) gifts to your house, and so many to your kids’ cousins or schoolmates?  Instead of launching into convoluted and desperate explanations (potentially crossing the line between fun make believe and lying to your kids), tell them that in your family Christmas is more about family than gifts, and Santa knows and respects that.

Santa fills the stockings in our house, but presents are meaningfully chosen for and from loved ones.  That means my daughter knows that the gift she loves was lovingly chosen by me and her father (ie we get credit).  It also means we don’t get into writing lists to Santa of “what I want for Christmas” and expecting a pony because, after all, Santa is magic and can bring anything!

To cut down on expenses, bake artisan bread, cookies, etc for relatives.  Make a basket with scones and homemade cocoa mix.  Or a box of tea or coffee.  Or give a basket with homemade vanilla, almond, and lemon extract.

Big families might want to do the “choose a name from a hat” bit and each grown-up gets one relative to shop for instead of ten.  That’ll simplify the holidays!

To cut down on the influx of gifts from relatives, ask for savings bonds for the kids, or memberships to the zoo or museum, or dance or music classes.  Local relatives can take your children for a special day at the zoo together instead of something to unwrap.

To prevent you children from drowning in rooms full of stuff, consider having them clear out many possessions for charity in December “to make room for the new presents.”  You might even implement a rule that everything that comes into the house means something else has to go.  This is a nice rule to live by year-round if you want to keep clutter at bay.  Oh, it must apply to the whole family, or it’s just not fair.

Make handmade gifts with your kids for friends and relatives and consider giving your kids some gifts you make yourself for them to emphasize the time spent working in love and de-emphasize the commercial experience.  Gifts your kids make can be easy for you, but still thoughtful.  Make beads out of clay and give relatives a handmade necklace.  Cut your child’s watercolor into strips and laminate (with packing tape) to make bookmarks for friends or family (snazzy them up with a hole punch at the top and tying a bit of colorful yarn through).  Make Christmas cookies with your kids to give grandparents as gifts (you can have the kids decorate them too).  Have kids paint ceramic mugs at a local pottery store and give coffee mugs as a practical gift.  Do handprint gifts (mugs, picture frames, ornaments) with younger tots.  When it comes to a child giving a gift, a picture drawn just for Grammy can be done in ten minutes and still be special and heartfelt without any further embellishment.

Stress free crafts with kids:

  • Have kids paint, glue, or sparkle, then cut the design into seasonal shapes for Christmas cards, sun-catchers, etc.  You can also fold them into paper lanterns or other creations.  Get an idea and google it for great ideas.
  • Paper chains for Christmas decoration.
  • String popcorn and cranberries.
  • Paint and string beads.
  • Make jewelry and other things from pipe cleaners.
  • Cut out and decorate a construction paper frame and glue a photo in the middle.
  • Have kids cut out and glue pictures (family photos, pictures in magazines, pretty patterned wrapping paper or fabric scraps) to boxes, jars, or other things for a unique decoupage style storage.
  • Visit craft blogs for inspiration.  The Magic Onions is fantastic both for kids crafts, and gifts you can make FOR your kids (love the watercolor board book)!

We didn’t have time for me to discuss it at the meeting (and I couldn’t really talk about stocking stuffers with my six year old present, since Santa is responsible for stockings in our house), but I’ve been pondering how to fill a stocking without resorting to meaningless junk.  Here are some ideas I think my daughter would like, but every kids is going to have different interests: crazy straws for drinks, pretty tights (for wearing under dresses this Florida Winter),  a bouncy ball (always a hit), maybe punch balloons.  And a little fairy figure.  Oh, and there must be a candycane sticking out.

And what about my one year old?  I need to provide a stuffed stocking, but there’s no point going overboard when she’d be just as happy with wrapping paper, right?  I’m thinking of putting some playsilks in her stocking (they’ll take up some room).  And maybe one of those weird cylinders that moos like a cow when you turn it over.  Because every baby should have one, right?  And a super easy homemade cloth doll should round things out.

Keeping kids (and ourselves) from OD’ing on sugar?  If you know you will encounter lots of treats around family and friends, at least refrain from adding to it yourself with Christmas baking all month.  Instead of leaving cookies for Santa, leave carrots for his reindeer (we leave both, though).  Santa could benefit from a few less cookies and a few more carrots himself!

Consider bringing healthier treats for your family so when everyone else is having cookies, you and your kids can have cookies that, at the very least, don’t have artificial coloring!  To prevent your family from looking like health freaks, bring enough to share so it isn’t your own private food, but a tray for everyone and that happens to be the tray you sample from.

If you get lots of sugary gifts, maybe it’s the perfect time to practice the spirit of Christmas by sharing with friends, co-workers, or charity.

There are probably endless ways to simplify the holidays.  Please share some of your tips in the comments!

Click here to buy a wrap. Thank you for your business! This is how I support my family. - Diana ❤️


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