The Christmas season is a time of celebration, but it can often be a time of stress and anxiety for both children and parents.
CHECK OUT THESE TIPS FROM OUR KIDS MINISTRY FOR MAKING THE MOST OF YOUR CHRISTMAS BREAK:
- Interview your spouse and older kids // Find out what makes Christmas seem like Christmas to your spouse and to your older kids. What is their favorite thing your family does during Christmas? How are they feeling about upcoming visits with extended family? What special things would they like to make time during their school break (think hobbies, visits with friends, fun times as a family)? What are some ways they can intentionally serve and bless other family members during this special time together? This can help you have the conversations your family needs and focus the way you spend your time over the holidays.
- Make the most of your car time // If you are taking a road trip, plan to download or borrow intentional, meaningful, fun audio books you can listen to together. Make sure you have your family’s favorite Christmas music on hand as well so you can all sing along together. These create shared experiences that draw you together. Through the years, we have found our kids sharing inside jokes from these books or singing these shared songs as we cook together in the kitchen.
- Make connections // Proactively plan ahead with your spouse about how to facilitate time with Jesus for each family member while you are with extended family. Whether you are staying with relatives or hosting them, your rhythms and spaces change, and you’ll want to plan intentionally so that time with Jesus actually happens. Also, find time to pull away in the morning and evening, both as a couple and as a nuclear family, even just for a few minutes. This time can allow you to help your children sort through family dynamics or talk in honoring but honest ways about places where your values differ from those of extended family members.
- Keep food prep shared and simple // Consider taking time in the days leading up to Christmas to spend unpressured time in the kitchen with your kids, enjoying the process of baking and letting them explore and develop their skills, whatever their ability level. As you prepare holiday meals, break tasks down and figure out what each child can do. Even if it is chaotic, working together in the kitchen can be a time of great joy, togetherness and memory-making. If you tend to make similar things each year, making a master grocery list for the week of Christmas will save you time when you pull it back out each year. Our list includes all the ingredients for Christmas cookies, our favorite Christmas Eve chili (keeping it simple), candy for stockings, breakfast for Christmas morning, a special Christmas dinner and supplies for s’mores.
- Simple gifts // Consider giving and/or letting your kids contribute toward an amount of money you will give to an organization like World Vision. Once you settle on the amount, give them the World Vision catalog and let them know they must agree on what to give. Our kid “committee” spent a long time around the dining room table deliberating and persuading each other, laboring over which was more important – clean water or vaccinations, chickens or goats. They eventually agreed and were very excited about what they were able to give. This process also helps them keep a perspective of thankfulness in the midst of a commercialized Christmas culture.
- Have a Giving Day // Before Christmas, our kids take some time to clean out their closets and toy shelves. We encourage our kids to think about things they would like to give that would bless another child, not just their unwanted junk. Thinning out their belongings and thinking about what would bless others is another way to cultivate thankfulness and generosity. It makes more impact on kids’ hearts to do this before they receive their Christmas gifts, so they are giving without knowing what they will receive.
- It’s Classified // Arm your kids with this simple phrase. It will enable you to draw them into gift-giving without having them divulge secrets or feel compelled to resort to lying. You could take one child at a time on a mission to find gifts for another child or other family members. When siblings try to extract hints from this child, all they have to say (repeatedly) is, “It’s classified.” Drawing your kids into searching for each other’s gifts can help them grow in thoughtfulness and love for their siblings.
- The real deal // Take time on Christmas morning to gather your kids, read the Christmas story from Luke 2 and sing some worshipful Christmas carols together.
Most of all, enjoy Jesus together as a family. You can take these steps to keep your family connected and focused on beholding the King of Kings with wonder through the Christmas season!
By Betty Lewis – Infant and Toddlers Pastor