By Michelle Donaghey
I want a computer, a cell phone, a doll, a Nintendo Wii (TM logo), video games, a soccer ball, a now you fill in the blank.
Does it seem like the kids in your house are asking for more and more and more as the days get closer to Christmas? Every year they get older, do the lists get longer and more expensive?
While the part of the joy of the holiday season is anticipating Christmas gifts, it seems that the focus is on the gifts themselves when actually if you think back, it is the anticipation of opening them. Remember that now if you are not setting limits and finding other ways to make the holiday season filled with joy it will only set up your children for disappointment. But what can you do?
1) Set a budget and stick with it. Boy, is this one hard. But if you set a dollar amount now, your children will understand how they as adults should budget for the holidays as well as for the rest of the year. If your children are too young to understand about money and dollar amounts, explain that Santa (or mom and dad or grandma) can bring them only one big present (or whatever your budget allows.) If a child is older, such as a preteen, you can start explaining how many hours it would take you as their parent to buy a particular gift. Some preteens who wish for cell phones are willing to babysit or do other chores in order that they have a phone. Teaching your children about money and provide them with an allowance if you can afford it. In that way, they can understand what a need or a want is.
2) Don’t let others fulfill every request of your children! While it may be tempting to have grandma and grandpa or an aunt or uncle buy your child what he or she wants. Suggest that grandma or grandma also limit what they give. If they like spoiling your child, tell them to buy them gifts during the year or at a birthday.
3) Lists- have them write them! If your child is too young, have them draw pictures and tell you what the pictures are. Give them a limit of three items only on their lists- remember, Jesus got three gifts from the Wisemen! Do NOT let them change their lists once they write them down- often, kids change their minds weekly if not DAILY in anticipation of the holidays!
4) Clean it out! Get in those closets and toy boxes. Get a BIG box for donations and the garbage bag for junk. DO NOT donate small pieces and parts- those you donate to will NOT be grateful for such items! Find toys and games your children no longer play with or want. Explain to them that if they want new toys, they must get rid of some of their old ones. If possible, take your children with you when you donate them to charity.
5) Schedule activities OTHER than shopping! If you take your kids shopping throughout the holiday season, that will be the only thing they think Christmas is about. You must show them by example spending TIME with them! Take your children ice skating, sledding, to a Christmas musical performance or ballet, on a walk or a drive to look at Christmas lights or a Holy Night re-enactment. Check local newspapers and or the internet for information on such events.
6) Volunteer to help others. If your kids are old enough, this will help them see that there are people who are in need. You don’t need to limit yourself to taking them to a homeless center or soup kitchen either. There are many people in your own neighborhood that would appreciate a visit from you and your child including those who live in in nursing homes or neighbors who have no family nearby.
7) Turn off the TV whenever possible! It does help one iota if your children are constantly bombarded with advertising. Instead of TV, have your children sit down and draw some [tag-ice]holiday pictures[/tg-ice] for relatives or help you to make simple cookies- slice and bake pre-made ones are great- just buy some canned frosting, sprinkles and you get home-made goodies ready to give.
Michelle Donaghey is a freelance writer and mother of two boys, Chris and Patrick, who are her inspiration. She lives in Bremen, Indiana just south of South Bend, home of Notre Dame. When she isn’t writing, Michelle can be found in her perennial flower garden or working on small home improvement projects. Michelle has written for parenting publications including Metro Kids, Atlanta Parent,Dallas Child, Great Lakes Family, Family Times and Space Coast Parent and websites including iparenting.com.
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