To get away from tangible gifts or traditions for a day, I want to share a less expected tradition. Make a schedule. I don't mean a plan for getting all the food cooked and on the table at the right time. I don't mean a schedule for getting ready for the big day or days. I mean a schedule for that you share with the kids so they know what to expect.
Especially in today's world of media hype and greeting card images, people's expectations for a holiday vary greatly. This can create something as simple as a misunderstanding to as challenging as a poorly timed tantrum. Much can be avoided if everyone knows roughly what is going to happen. Even if it isn't what they WANT to happen, most can adjust IF they KNOW AHEAD.
Make a rough plan for the day. Talk about it with your kids... not just once, often. Listen to their reactions and tweak the plan if needed and possible. Talk about it with your spouse, your relatives, with anyone who is involved on that day. Settle differences ahead...before they become disputes.
For example in my house some of the decisions to be made each year include:
What time can the kids get up?
Do they have to wait for the grownups?
Will the kids get their stocking before or after breakfast?
Will they have to get breakfast cleaned up before opening presents?
Do we open gifts one at a time or as they come?
Do all gifts get opened at one spell or scattered through the day?
Will the main meal be at noon? mid-afternoon? evening?
Will we be visiting anyone that day? Will anyone be visiting us that day?
Is anyone staying at the house and if so, who is giving up a room?
When relatives call, do we all stop until the call is over?
What is the plan for cleanup.... of gifts? of dinner?
What time is bedtime...the night before? that night? naptimes?
Once you have made the decisions, you may even want to post the rough schedule [with pictures or icons for any little ones] someplace kids can see it, to remind them and so they can predict what happens when and what is coming next during the big day.
Doing the planning and deciding and discussion ahead is KEY to a smoother, more enjoyable holiday. Making and posting the rough calendar is an added bonus advantage that increases your chances of avoiding meltdowns, frustrations, etc.
No clever pictures today. This is about deciding your own picture of a holiday.
No toy recommendations. This is about a different kind of gift.
Just the hope that this idea may provide the gift of a bit more calm, a bit more joy, a bit more pleasure.
Hoping you all have great and truly
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