Celebrating the Holidays with Preschool Age Kids

Happy December, Readers! Too often this month can become a frantic checklist of holiday planning, last minute shopping (or crafting), readying the house for guests, packing for travel, stressful eating and general busyness. Let's be honest, that is not a recipe for a calm and happy parent. This month we asked our writers to share some of their holiday plans, their reflections on the past year and their thoughts and goals for 2013. As 2012 closes, we are so thankful for the wonderful things that have happened at The Motherhood Collective over the past months. We wish you all a very happy and fulfilling end to your year. ~TMC-- I love the holidays. I always have. However, as a mother it definitely presents an interesting challenge.

When my girls were in the infant/toddler phase of life, I had to figure out how to work naps and feedings around crazy travel schedules and countless parties. Even nursing habits had to get creative when we drove the four hours up to my parents’ house for Thanksgiving when my oldest was just three weeks old.

Now that my girls are in the preschool age group, those challenges are a thing of the past. However, as they grow older I am presented with new challenges during the holidays. Things like, how do I help them focus on what really matters rather than the crazy dash for “more” and self-focus that can overwhelm the best of us this time of year? While I am still learning how to help develop their little characters, I have found a few things that have helped both them (and us) focus on what really matters.

Advent Calendar Experiences, over stuff. This is something that is so important to my husband and me. We want our children to value people, relationships and experiences over simply, more stuff. One of the ways we have incorporated this value into our Christmas celebrations is by using an Advent calendar. You can find these all over the place or simply make your own. While some families use this to give a little gift each day, we focuse on daily experiences. Each day has a slip of paper with a special activity to do that day. While these are often holiday activities we would do anyway (decorate cookies, drive around looking at lights, have dinner with the grandparents), using the Advent calendar makes them into something special and has really helped us to celebrate the small moments in life.

Giving, over getting. Another thing we try to do with our children is focus on the act of giving, rather than getting. While we do help our children make a list of what they want to get for Christmas, we also help them making shopping lists. We ask them who they want to buy gifts for and help them think through what they want to buy each person. We help them purchase, make, or bake gifts for special people in their lives and talk about how much fun it will be to GIVE the gifts. When we open gifts, it’s about whose turn it is to give out their gifts rather than whose turn it is to open one. This is something my parents started with me as a child, and to this day, I love this part of Christmas. There is nothing like watching as someone opens a gift you have carefully selected for them. Because of this we open gifts one by one and make sure a sincere thank you is said before moving on to the next one.

As an adult, my favorite parts of Christmas are being with family and celebrating small moments. I sincerely hope to instill these in my children and would love to hear what YOU all are doing with your little ones to help them grasp these concepts.