Tuesday 2 December 2014

Christmas - get the kids involved!

Christmas can be a really busy time and for some it all becomes too much and the burden of jobs and money takes its toll. I'm firmly in the camp that says if you can't afford it, do not do it. No Christmas is worth having to pay off credit cards for months afterwards. Nor is it worth making yourself ill with stress.

Christmas is supposed to be a time when we celebrate the best gift of all, the birth of Jesus Christ and ultimately the sacrifice He made for us, so it is important for me and my family to spend time during Advent where we focus on Jesus and not ourselves. That is not the easiest of tasks with three kids as ultimately they would like to just take, take, take but they need a grounding and an understanding that Christmas is bigger than them.

I don't think Christmas is just the responsibility of parents, they should not have to plan it alone and do all the organisation, the kids need to be involved too. My kids may have groaned the first few times I asked them to set the table, empty the dishwasher or do the recycling but now they do it as standard and know they are part of a team and are making a difference to family life and you know what? I think they even enjoy it too, it gives them a sense of achievement and they thrive on the responsibility.

Now the girls have reached 7 and JJ is 11 they are well old enough to be involved with planning our family Christmas time. The first thing I want to do is create an advent calendar with the kids, I don't want commercial chocolate ones this year but I'm happy for them to have a little treat each day if it also has a bit more meaning than that. So maybe we will make a calendar with 24 different prayer prompters or copy Jen at Mum in the Mad House with her Acts of Kindness calendar.

We will also decorate a Christmas tree for our local tree festival, attend church services and carol concerts, go on prayer walks as a family and we have already made our Operation Christmas Child shoe boxes to give to children less fortunate than us. We will also be donating to some food hampers for families in need via Christians Against Poverty and I'll of course keep volunteering at the local Food Bank.

In previous years we have bought presents on behalf of the kids but JJ particularly is now old enough to be able to get a token gift for each of the people he is closest to. When we spoke about this the other night he was super excited that he could shop alone and choose some presents for people, apparently he already has ideas for dh and I. The girls don't really have the money to pay for their own presents so I think I might give them a small amount and then let them choose gifts for each other.

JJ enjoys hiding gifts in his room and then wrapping them up. I need to remind him though as he forgets where he hides things and then we find them a few months later, after Christmas! lol I'm really pleased that Scotch Tape sent us through some of their pop-up tape armbands and spare tape strips as this mean I can let the kids wrap their own presents too, between the three of them they will be able to sort it out now that tape rolls and lost ends are a thing of the past!

Food and decorations
We are lucky that we don't have to do much cooking over the Christmas period as the community we live in will all be eating together and we will have lunch with about 100 others but we always have Christmas breakfast at home so I suspect the children will help dh prepare that and I'm going to encourage them to make some nice table decorations in advance.

The girls in particular will also want to decorate the tree and I have to admit I find it hard to allow the tree to look random and full of different colours. So for the past few years we have had two trees, one eclectic one that the kids have had free reign on and mine which is sleek and colour coordinated.  I've not decided as yet if I'll let them do one with me this year, I suppose I should as it is a good lesson in compromise and sharing for us all.

I'm going to ponder what else I can get them involved with too and I'll be asking them for their suggestions. They amaze me with some of the great ideas they come up with. How involved are your older kids this Christmas?

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