Walk into any store at this time of year and in an instant you and your children can be thrown into a frenzy. The numbers of toys, clothes, and shoes to add to the rapidly growing list of things for Santa to bring can be exciting. But it can also be very overwhelming. And while new gadgets and toys are fun, it can be challenging to undertake the magic-making that defines this well-loved holiday. If you are trying to stick to a tight budget or small square footage or simply trying to teach your children to want less stuff, this frenzy can also leave you feeling a huge case of the “blahs” instead of the “ahhhs” of the season.
There is hope! In recent years there has been an increased push to live a simpler, more meaning- filled lifestyle. The suggestion of paring back your belongings to focus on the family or yourself can be very appealing. But how do you approach this concept when your child wants the newest toys, clothing, gadget, etc. to keep up with her friends?
One way to begin fostering a deeper, more meaningful family connection that supersedes the need for piles of presents is to be more present. You can start building meaningful moments anytime. The holiday season is an especially great time to begin! Here are some ways to start building more meaningful moments with your family this year:
• Practice simple ways to be in the moment with one another.
o Create a little town or scene with your current play toys – be amazed at the creativity your children bring to this playtime. And be ready to appreciate your own creativity.
o Establish a tech-free time every week or set aside a family-only time every day
o Snuggle with your kids. Sing your favorite holiday songs. (Here’s why it helps development, too.)
o When your loved ones frown or smile unexpectedly, take a minute to ask them what they are thinking about.
• Engage your family in meaningful conversations.
o Ask your children what chores they find important and why. Notice that everyone may have different answers. Find ways to incorporate chores that each person likes to do and suggest how to manage feelings when doing chores one doesn’t enjoy so much.
o Guide your family in talking about why and how to appreciate differences within your family.
o Ask who needs help with a task or problem around the house and work together to find a solution or complete the job.
o Are there neighbors who need help with their yardwork or grocery shopping? What would it look like to go up and ask to help with these things? Would you be nervous? What would make it easier? Practice offering assistance with one another and then try it out on an unsuspecting neighbor.
• Develop deeper connections within your family, your friends, and community.
o Honor friendships by encouraging your children to ask friends over to play and say yes when a friend asks them to come play
o Talk with your children. The length of conversation strongly correlates to children’s IQ and reading ability.
o Can you volunteer at your local food pantry, church, or another community organization? Ask how you and your children can be involved. Try to do this once every few months to begin and work your way to a weekly or monthly volunteer time.
We hope that this holiday season fills you and your family with simple-ness and meaning-filled moments. Want more ideas? Check out our Pinterest board on Making It Meaningful. And, if you would like to find ways to help out your neighbors in Lane County this holiday, check out our list of Ways to Give in Lane County.
Image: © Eduardo Gonzalez Diaz | Dreamstime.com