Let them help – Do your kids want to help you decorate for Christmas? Or bake cookies? Let them help you! They will learn so many important things by helping you and working beside you! Their Christmas, and yours, will be so much more meaningful if you let them help you.
I don’t know why this is or how this works, but every Christmas, I find myself thinking that I can do “this” better or more efficiently. You know, all the things we tell ourselves must be done before Christmas: Shopping, wrapping, baking, decorating, and so on. And every year, I feel like I am totally behind, not ready, and then I tell myself that next year will be better. I will start earlier, and I will plan better, I will be more organized. Please tell me I am not alone in this!
I always had great plans for how the kids would help me bake and wrap presents and how I would take them on leisurely Christmas shopping trips. We would all be relaxed as we decorate the tree, no stress, no pressure. How does that never seem to happen?
And what happens when we get stressed and feel pressured to get everything done NOW? It seems like we hustle to get the kids in bed so we can do all the “things” without them getting in the way.
But wait! Isn’t that one of the best parts of the holidays? Seeing Christmas through their eyes as they experience and participate in new things? Watching them as they discover new beauty in old decorations and family traditions? Let me encourage you to allow your kids to participate in Christmas preparations with you fully.
We Need to Overcome our Stress
It’s Faster if I Do It Myself!
Have you ever caught yourself saying that? Even though that statement is probably true, our goal should not always be how fast we can accomplish something. But when we are caught up in trying to get “everything” done, too often, we lose some of the delight, some of the meaning to what we are doing.
Example: Making roll-out sugar cookies with kids takes FOREVER! Sure, you can roll out the dough quickly, but then each kid has to choose the cookie cutter he wants to use, cut out the cookies, and decorate them. Do you know how long it takes a young child to decorate ONE cookie? Multiply that by 4 dozen cookies, and you will be making sugar cookies for hours!
But think of their faces as they point out their cookies being served to Grandma. They are so proud of the cookies they decorated! Even if the cookie resembles a mutant camel in camo or a misshapen exploding star.
Yes, it is much faster to do it yourself, but at what cost?
It Looks Better if I Do It Myself!
Who isn’t guilty of this? Let the kids decorate the tree, and then after they are in bed, you go “fix” the tree. Do we fool ourselves, thinking they won’t remember where they hung their favorite ornament? That they won’t notice if we “relocated” it?
If we continue to rearrange their decorations, what are we implying to them? That their efforts aren’t good enough? That they don’t measure up to our standards?
Look for a balance between the perfectly decorated house and an acceptable joint effort. Remember, we aren’t trying to score points for an interior decorating magazine; we try to portray love and festiveness and celebration.
Does it really matter if the packages under the tree are not wrapped perfectly and precisely with color-coordinated ribbons, bows, and gift tags? Sure, we can give advice and suggestions about best practices in package-wrapping, but we shouldn’t be demanding do-overs if their efforts don’t measure up to our expectations.
Doing It Yourself Does a Disservice to your Children
How will your children learn to do for themselves if you are always doing it for them? Can they learn to enjoy the “process” if their efforts never satisfy your expectations? What will happen to their joy and eagerness if their help is not wanted or appreciated?
When I was young, my mom always had us helping in the kitchen. I don’t remember ever hearing her complain about the mess we made, especially if we cleaned it up! But I remember one of her friends commenting about how she didn’t like her kids helping in the kitchen because they made such a mess. I recall feeling sad when I heard that, thinking about all the fun times she was missing out on.
Helping You = Learning
Your children learn when they help you. And, as homeschooling parents, life should be all about learning. So, what will your children learn from you as they help you get ready for Christmas?
Your children will learn valuable skills as they help you. Whether they help with baking, decorating, cleaning, serving, or correspondence, your children will be learning important life skills: the importance of measuring carefully, ladder safety, fire hazards, wrapping presents (how much tape is really required to wrap a package?), the importance of connecting with others. All these “little” things will be useful to them as they grow up and move on with their own lives.
Every family has its own set of holiday traditions. What are yours? Do your children know your traditions? Do they know where they came from, or why you do things a certain way every Christmas? As they help you, you can teach them your family traditions. You can explain why you always bake these cookies, or why you always use only white Christmas lights, or whatever your tradition is. Your children will learn to value these traditions with you.
Talk about family stories while you work together. How did you meet your spouse? What was your first Christmas together like? Who made a major error in cookie-baking, and what happened? Kids delight in hearing stories, especially stories about people they know. Tell them the stories!
Most importantly, your kids will pick up on your attitudes. Are you frustrated or angry? Your kids will know. Are you impatient or stressed? Yep, they will sense that as well. As they work with you getting ready for Christmas, they will pick up on and mirror your attitudes. So, what attitudes are you teaching them? Bitterness? Anger? Stress? Perfectionism? Instead of those, we should practice joy, peace, contentment, honoring God, being a blessing to those around us, including our kids.
So, parents, let your kids help! Get them involved with you and your efforts. Practice being a blessing to others, starting with our own families.
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