Tag Archives: Xmas

How many presents ?

How many presents do you buy for your kids at Christmas?

In my family, amongst my friends, between the parents I speak to online, there are very different approaches to Christmas presents. Some people buy a lot, some buy little. Some place a lot of emphasis on Santa’s gifts, some less, some not at all. Everyone wants their kids to have an amazing Christmas experience, and all the kids get exactly that! But which approach to gift giving is best? Which suits you and your family?

  • How much to spend?
  • How many gifts to give?
  • More presents or bigger presents?
  • Who gets the credit, parents or Santa?
  • How to make sure the kids appreciate their gifts?

How much to spend?

How long is a piece of string? This really is a circular question. Family finances are so different that measuring your spend against another can never be helpful. Different incomes, different budgets, different priorities make this an impossible comparison and one that can only make you feel bad. Bad you aren’t spending enough or bad you’ve spent too much. Or you feel smug you’ve done just the right thing and then you should feel bad for feeling smug.

The main thing is to spend what you can afford only. Going into debt or having to cut back too much to afford a lot of presents isn’t going to pay dividends. Your kids may love those toys but soon they’ll want to go on fun outings you can’t afford or need new shoes you can’t buy and the toys won’t make up for it.

How many gifts to give?

This is where you can save money when you have little ones. They won’t know how much things cost so if you want to give a lot, go for lots of cheap gifts rather than one or two expensive ones. If you have more than one child make sure they have the same number as they’ll probably compare. Even if you spent more on one child they are more likely to see the fairness in how many gifts they can count. But giving too many gifts can make the opening become a factory line and the shine of getting a gift can be rubbed away. Too many presents and you run the risk of an ungrateful child who keeps expecting more and more. Plus there’s only so much they can focus on and some of the toys are likely to gather dust, at least for a while. Where’s the sweet spot? That’s up to you, of course, but just remember not to compare to the other parents! There’s always someone giving a number wildly different to you and making you second guess your decision.

Bigger is better?

There are some big items that are often given as Christmas gifts. I mean large! Like cubby houses, trampolines, swing sets, play kitchens, bikes….. This big presents often come with a price tag to match and can be an excellent option for a group gift, to all the kids/all the family (maybe not the bike!)

Large toys can be impressive and give a lot of bang for their buck as they aren’t always matched by their price. Young children, just as they will see a lot of toys as a big haul, are likely to see Big toys as impressive. A large cheap toy might create more excitement than an expensive small one. But the long term value is worth considering, if the cheap toy becomes just more for the toy box and eventually landfill. Small toys can be used to fill a stocking. Little hands reaching in again and again to reveal yet more tiny wonders might create more joy. How big is your home? I know I think hard about just where I will keep each item once it’s a part of our lives and homes before I buy it. If you can’t think of an obvious place to keep it, maybe it’s something best to avoid!

Who gave the best gift, you or Santa?

This one really gets the mums groups to disagree. On the one side is the argument that Santa is magical and special and kids should believe the best comes from that magical place while they still can. On the other hand is the position that parents put in all the hard work so they should get the credit and appreciation they deserve. Also to take into consideration is that the biggest and best present means very different things to different families. Some have hardly anything or nothing to spend on Christmas and some have limitless funds and means. If Santa is attributed with the most extravagant present, yet this varies from one child to the next, will the children see this and feel like Santa has been unfair or doesn’t care as much for some children? This a very personal question and your family dynamics and the personality of your child will sway the decision. How likely are your kids to discuss their gifts with other children? Some countries have school close to Christmas and some do not, does this affect the likelihood of comparison discussions? Do your children appreciate you usually or do you feel they need to see how you work hard to get them the things they have? Is the magic of Santa especially important to you and to them?

How much will they appreciate their presents?

We all want to give our kids what they want, but we try to give them what they need as well. And maybe sometimes they need to appreciate what they’ve been given a bit more? I know my toddler can begin to expect gifts around present giving time. For a month after his birthday he would come home from daycare asking, “Have you got a present for me?” There were even tears sometimes when the answer was no. I think the toddler may be old enough to begin learning about giving his toys to those who haven’t as many. This year I’d like to have him pick something new to give to a children’s Christmas gift program and also to agree to pass on some of his own toys. Getting him involved in choosing and wrapping gifts for other family members also makes sure he understands that presents are a two way street and to help him grow his own joy in giving.

How do you and your family approach presents for your kids?

Leave a comment

Filed under General, Just for Fun, Thoughtful

Don’t Panic – It’s Christmas!

Photo by Jonathan Borba on Pexels.com

Christmas day can be exhausting and stressful when you’re single and thought you had little more to worry about than how many bottles of champagne you’d need to supply your boozy relatives, and how to fake a smile when you’re given the same book you’ve already read by the fourth well-meaning aunt. But, when you have small children in tow it can all suddenly seem very overwhelming, threatening to take the shine off the whole day.

Relax! Christmas is meant to be fun remember? šŸ™‚ So here are some of top tips for keeping the fun a priority and the tension at bay.

Safeguard the Christmas tree

I’ve heard and seen suggestions about avoiding trees altogether or putting a small one up out of reach on a table, but if you want the big traditional tree surrounded by presents you don’t have forgo it, even with small children who pull and climb and destroy. It’s a small investment but one I think is worth it; a wooden playpen. Most these days are a series of sections designed to create the shape that suits you, so you can arrange it around you tree or cordon off a section of a room. It’s great after Christmas as well as a safe place for young children to play when you have a shower, or cook, or climb onto the roof, or whatever you need to do where you can’t watch the kids.

Give your children plenty of notice – Xmas is coming!

This serves the double purpose of building excitement (which is worth the crazy that comes with it, surely? We want them to be excited about Christmas, right?!) and making sure they aren’t taken unawares when there are big changes to their routine. Children thrive on routines and predictability in their lives so when there will be a lot of people and changes to their day, talk about it often in the lead up to Christmas. Talk about what will happen, who they’ll spend the day with, and what your expectations of them are (don’t have too many expectations!).

Rest up!

Give yourself and your children a chance to rest before the big day. Easier said than done I know, but if you usually go to baby and toddler classes, the park, the shops, cafes, to see friends, etc etc etc, cross them off your to-do list wherever possible in the few days before Christmas.  For one thing you’ll probably realise you have more to do at home than you thought (I always have that last minute moment where it occurs to me I allowed 20 minutes for something that clearly takes four and half hours), but mainly it’s just a chance to be quiet before the hubbub of Christmas. Be your calmest self and encourage your children to have a good back log of rest and sleep to draw on when they inevitably become over-stimulated and-overtired on the big day.

Delegate. Delegate. Delegate.

I hate to let others do things I’m pretty sure I can do better. I really struggle to let anyone help me. Ever. But it really is the mark of good manager, at the office or at home, to be able to apportion jobs out to others, willing or not (!), to ensure the whole day runs smoothly. Even if you’re Supermanning and  Domestic Goddessing all over the place, you can get adults and older children to do a dozen small jobs that will free you up, and children of about 3 years to 8 years often enjoy being given responsibility (younger than this they’re not really up to it and any older and they’ve cottoned on to the fact you’re making them work and calling it fun, Tom Sawyer style). If you’re less busy you can deal with small mishaps and will be less stressed if called upon to deal with big mishaps.

Let them eat cake

Photo by Kaboompics .com on Pexels.com

… and biscuits and chocolate and lollies and pies and turkey and stuffing and bread and the piece of fluff they found under the couch and ice cream and sausages and whatever they want. There is absolutely no way on earth that a single day of over-the-top unhealthy eating could do lasting damage, not realistically. Even if you usually prefer your children to be pagans of virtue in their eating habits, and even if you succeed (a much trickier prospect), just turn a blind eye today.

Giving ground here means you don’t need to watch what they’re eating, since they can eat anything they want, giving you more time to deal with other things. Christmas is meant to be extravagant; we all eat and drink and buy too much, why should children be left out? It’s a day to look forward to all year and being a day of eating free-for-all can help you set limits the rest of the time (of course you can’t eat that, what do you think this is, Christmas?!!! šŸ˜‰  ) You might be surprised to find that when given free licence they don’t eat as much or as poorly as you’d expect and even if they try, they couldn’t possibly outweigh the good eating you share the rest of the year.

Be Flexible!

This is the most important of all. Prepare yourself and the children, rest up beforehand, be clear about expectations and avoid unnecessary conflict, loosen the reins a little (get it, reins, like for the reindeer??? ahhhh….lol ), but if (when?) it all goes to hell in a handbasket, try try try to go with the flow. I believe routine is the key to happy children, but the routine is already out the window so don’t stress if you can’t get a baby’s nap in when you think you should, or didn’t feed the kids when they’d usually eat, or forgot to plan for the extra children that arrive with those aunts who keep giving you books you read last year. Naps can be moved, skipped, or happen in someone’s lap, children can share a bed, meals can be anytime (the kids are stuffing themselves on chocolate and couch fluff remember?), and TV can be a blessed babysitter.

This is a day for fun, family, friends, loved ones sharing a special day and creating memories. It’s a big day that throws the usual schedule in chaos and you should be realistic about the impact on small children. They will probably swing wildly between excited and happy, and grumpy and sleepy. Make it as easy on them and yourself and everyone as possible and take the easy route where possible feeling utterly GUILT free! This is a free day, it has nothing to do with normal routines and plans and goals and expectations. Your only goal today is to enjoy yourself and your family, and for them to feel the same way.

____________________________________________________

How do you manage Christmas Day with small children and babies?

5 Comments

Filed under General, Just for Fun, Tips and tricks

Santa Baby

Santa and crying baby

Glad you went to see Santa?

Some years I take the babies and children I work with to see Santa.

I love it. They look so cute, the older ones get so excited and nervous; they infect me with Xmassy good feelings.

I’m a sucker for Christmas anyway, so it’s not hard to get my good-cheer-meter rising and since I love being with the babies and kids, putting the two together makes my day. If I got to also eat a too-big bowl of pasta while watching TV in my pyjamas at the end that day, I’d pretty much be in heaven.

I don’t have children (yet, I hope!) but I just assume I’ll love taking them to see Santa. I assume that I would jealously preside over such events, fighting off those who’d take on the task as though I were protecting my magical goose that lays golden eggs while writing pithy articles, curing cancer and inventingĀ perpetualĀ motion machines. Continue reading

6 Comments

Filed under General, Thoughtful