Advertising
Advertising

7 Ways to Make the Holidays Special for Your Children

7 Ways to Make the Holidays Special for Your Children

This time of year can be challenging for any parent. As schools, businesses, churches and communities everywhere are gearing up to celebrate both Thanksgiving and Christmas, the days and weeks ahead can become crammed with activities that will wear out any child and their parents.

But a conscientious parent will search for ways to teach their children the true meaning of the holidays, so they don’t get lost and confused by the commercialism promoted by retail stores.

Instead of focusing on the self-absorbed attitude of deciding what they want to get out of it, (like how many toys will Santa bring me) maybe you would prefer that your child learn about why we celebrate these holidays to begin with.

Here are some simple things you can do to help your child learn the traditional meaning of the holidays, while giving them something they can treasure about the upcoming events.

Advertising

1. Bake something

This is one of the easiest ways to show your kids what a special time the holidays are.  You can teach them how to bake cookies. Maybe you can pass on an old family recipe, as you show them step-by-step how to do it. Of course, with younger children, you will need to take precautions, and show them how to be safe when using sharp instruments and doing things near hot ovens.

Pink Sherbet on flickr

    2. Find magic in the holidays

    Wherever you live, your children should be able to see the splendor of all the lights and trees and decorations that are put up in your area. Maybe you can take them to see a water fountain in a park nearby that is illuminated at night by colorful lights. Just going for a drive in the car to see how other people decorate their houses and put up lights, or a trip to the city for a festive event can be a fun outing for them. And the joy that you express over the holidays is something your children will see and appreciate along with you.

    Advertising

    by DncnH at Flickr

      Alisha Vargas at Flickr

        3. Make something

        Here is one of the easiest things for any child to do, because there are so many different kinds of crafts they can try. You can help them by coming up with creative ideas. They can make different things for Thanksgiving and then other types of things for Christmas. Each child should be able to make something all by themselves, or with a little bit of your help, that they can give to someone else, like a friend at school or daycare. Or, they may find it fun to just make it and give it to you.

        Terren in Virginia at Flickr

          4. Help someone in need

          One of the most important and valuable lessons any parent can teach a child is for them to learn how to do something to help others. Whether it is helping a friend do their homework, or helping an elderly person with yard work, doesn’t matter. What really matters is that they learn to give some of their time and energy in a way that will help someone else. They learn to give, rather than take. And, in the process, they will learn to value how it makes them feel good inside to do it.

          Advertising

          Torrey Wiley on flickr

            5. Learn holiday songs

            Much of the fun during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays comes from the joyous sound of people singing. Maybe you can spend some family time singing songs while gathered around the firepit in the backyard. You can teach your children how to sing or play some of your favorite and traditional songs, or you can take them to an event where there is singing and or dancing. The viewing of cultural events during the holidays is something that every child should have an opportunity to do. Even if you are away from home and  traveling with your children, you can still sing holiday songs with them wherever you are.

            6. Write what it means to them

            As your children grow from toddlers to school age youngsters, an important part of their learning, is learning how to express themselves. You can make plans to have family discussions about the meaning of the holidays and they can talk about their feelings, or share their ideas. Writing them down in a notebook or in cards to mail out to friends and family is a great thing to teach your children, that they can carry on throughout their lives.

            Advertising

            Photopin

              7. Take them to a holiday movie

              Going to a holiday movie with your child is another fun thing to do this time of year. There are usually a few animated Disney movies that come out in the winter time, especially for young people. Going to a movie will show your children that they can enjoy doing things with you that will benefit them. This can be one way that they learn to enjoy doing things that are fun and important to them, and not just having to always do what grownups do.

              Watching a movie can spark their imaginations and creativity and show them what a fun time they can have with the family.

              Taber Andrew Baln at Flickr

                You may find the holidays a lot more enjoyable if you remember  these 7 simple ways to have fun with your kids. When they get a chance to bake something, look for joy, make something, help someone in need, learn holiday songs, write what the holidays mean to them, and enjoy a favorite holiday movie, they will probably come away with more of the magic of the season and less of the materialism.

                Featured photo credit: Ambuja Saxena at Flickr via flickr.com

                More by this author

                Karen Bresnahan

                Photographer/Writer/Artist

                14 Fun Ways to Give Cash at Weddings, Parties and on Holidays 13 Ways to Handle Grief After the Loss of a Loved One 9 Unforgettable Things My Mother Taught Me couple at sunset 20 Ways to Say ‘I Love You’ With Photos 3 Easy Ways to Shake the After-Holiday Blues

                Trending in Child Education

                1 Research Finds The Effects Of Homework On Elementary School Students, And The Results Are Surprising 2 5 Tips For Teaching Money Management To Children 3 If You Want Your Kids To Be Successful, Don’t Protect Them In This Way 4 Helpful Things Your Child Should Learn Before They Turn 18 5 The Lessons Chess Can Teach Your Children

                Read Next

                Advertising
                Advertising

                Published on December 14, 2018

                14 Helpful Tips for Single Parents: How to Stay Sane While Doing it All

                14 Helpful Tips for Single Parents: How to Stay Sane While Doing it All

                According to the U.S. Census Bureau, over 27% of children under the age of 18 are living with a single parent.[1] That’s over 1/4th of the U.S. population.There is a common misconception that children who grow up in single parent homes are not as successful as children living in two-parent homes.

                One crucial detail that was often left out of studies when comparing single and two-parent homes was the stability of the household. There is a correlation between family structure and family stability, but this study shows that children who grow up in stable single-parent homes do as well as those in married households in terms of academic abilities and behavior.

                But providing stability is easier said than done. With only one adult to act as a parent, some tasks are inherently more challenging. However, there are a few helpful things you can do to make the parenting journey a little easier for yourself and stay sane while doing it.

                1. Don’t Neglect Self-Care

                Before anything else can be done, you must be caring for your own needs adequately. Only when you are feeling well-rested and healthy can you be at your best for your children.

                Many parents tend to put their kids’ needs first and their owns last, but that will result in a never-ending cycle of exhaustion and feelings of inadequacy. Make time to eat regularly and healthfully, get plenty of rest, and squeeze in exercise whenever you can. Even a short walk around the neighborhood will help your body get much-needed movement and fresh air.

                Your children depend on you, and it’s up to you to make sure that you are well-equipped and ready to take on that responsibility.

                2. Join Forces with Other Single Parents

                At times, it may seem like you’re the only person who knows what it’s like to be a single parent. However, the statistics say that there are many others who know exactly what you’re going through.

                Find single parents locally, through your kid’s school, extracurricular activities, or even an app. There are also numerous online communities that can offer support and advice, through Facebook or sites like Single Mom Nation.

                Although single moms make up the majority of single parents, there are more than 2.6 million single dads in the U.S. A great way to connect is through Meetup. Other single parents will more than happy to arrange babysitting swaps, playdates, and carpools.

                Join forces in order to form mutually beneficial relationships.

                Advertising

                3. Build a Community

                In addition to finding support with other single parents, also build a community comprised of families of all different types. Rather than focus solely on the single parent aspect of your identity, look for parents and kids who share other things in common.

                Join a playgroup, get plugged in at a church, or get to know the parents of the kids involved in the same extracurricular activities. Having a community of a variety of people and families will bring diversity and excitement into your and your kids’ lives.

                4. Accept Help

                Don’t try to be a superhero and do it all yourself. There are probably people in your life who care about you and your kids and want to help you. Let them know what types of things would be most appreciated, whether it’s bringing meals once a week, helping with rides to school, or giving you time to yourself.

                There is no shame in asking for help and accepting assistance from loved ones. You will not be perceived as weak or incompetent. You are being a good parent by being resourceful and allowing others to give you a much-needed break.

                5. Get Creative with Childcare

                Raising a child on a single income is a challenge, with the high cost of daycares, nannies, and other conventional childcare services. More affordable options are possible if you go a less traditional route.

                If you have space and live in a college town, offer a college student housing in exchange for regular childcare. Or swap kids with other single parents so that your kids have friends to play with while the parents get time to themselves.

                When I was younger, my parents had a group of five family friends, and all of the children would rotate to a different house each day of the week, during the summer months. The kids would have a great time playing with each other, and the parents’ job becomes a lot easier. That’s what you would call a win-win situation.

                6. Plan Ahead for Emergencies

                As a single parent, a backup plan or two is a must in emergency situations. Make a list of people you know you can call in a moment’s notice. There will be times in which you need help, and it’s important to know ahead of time who you can rely on.

                Look into whether or not your area offers emergency babysitting services or a drop-in daycare. Knowing who will be able to care for your child in the event of an emergency can relieve one potential source of anxiety in stressful situations.

                7. Create a Routine

                Routines are crucial for young children because knowing what to expect gives them a semblance of control. This is even more important when in a single parent home.

                Advertising

                If the child travels between homes or has multiple caretakers, life can seem extremely chaotic and unpredictable. Establish a routine and schedule for your child as much as possible. This can include bedtime, before/after school, chores, meal times, and even a weekend routine.

                Having a routine does not mean things cannot change. It is merely a default schedule to fall back on when no additional events or activities are going on. When your children know what to expect, they will be less resistant because they know what to expect, and days will run much more smoothly.

                8. Be Consistent with Rules and Discipline

                If your child has multiple caretakers, such as another parent, grandparent, or babysitter, communicate clearly on how discipline will be handled. Talk to your ex, if you are sharing custody, as well as any other caretakers about the rules and the agreed-upon approach to discipline.

                When a child realizes that certain rules can be bent with certain people, he/she will use it to their advantage, causing additional issues with limits, behavior, and discipline down the road.

                This article may help you to discipline your child better:

                How to Discipline a Child (The Complete Guide for Different Ages)

                9. Stay Positive

                Everyone has heard the saying, “Mind over matter.” But there really is so much power behind your mentality. It can change your perspective and make a difficult situation so much better.

                Your kids will be able to detect even the smallest shift in your attitude. When the responsibilities of motherhood are overwhelming, stay focused on the positive things in your life, such as your friends and family. This will produce a much more stable home environment.

                Maintain your sense of humor and don’t be afraid to be silly. Look towards the future and the great things that are still to come for you and your family. Rediscover and redefine your family values.

                10. Move Past the Guilt

                In a single parent home, it is impossible to act as both parents, regardless of how hard you try. Let go of the things that you cannot do as a single parent, and instead, think of the great things you ARE able to provide for your children.

                Advertising

                Leave behind the notion that life would be easier or better with two parents. This is simply not true. There is a multitude of pros and cons to all family dynamics, and the one you are providing for your kids now is the one that they need.

                Don’t get bogged down by guilt or regret. Take control of your life and be the best parent you can by being present and engaged with them on a daily basis.

                11. Answer Questions Honestly

                Your kids may have questions about why their home situation is different from many of their friends. When asked, don’t sugarcoat the situation or give them an answer that is not accurate.

                Depending on their age, take this opportunity to explain the truth of what happened and how the current circumstances came about. Not all families have two parents, whether that is due to divorce, death, or whatever else life brings.

                Don’t give more detail than necessary or talk badly about the other parent. But strive to be truthful and honest. Your children will benefit more from your candor than a made-up story.

                12. Treat Kids Like Kids

                In the absence of a partner, it can be tempting to rely on your children for comfort, companionship, or sympathy. But your kids are not equipped to play this role for you.

                There are many details within an adult relationship that children are not able to understand or process, and it will only cause confusion and resentment.

                Do not take out your anger on your kids. Separate your emotional needs from your role as a mother. If you find yourself depending on your kids too much, look for adult friends or family members that you can talk to about your issues.

                13. Find Role Models

                Find positive role models of the opposite sex for your child. It’s crucial that your child does not form negative associations with an entire gender of people.

                Find close friends or family members that would be willing to spend one-on-one time with your kids. Encourage them to form meaningful relationships with people that you trust and that they can look up to.

                Advertising

                Role models can make a huge difference in the path that a child decides to take, so be intentional about the ones that you put in your kids’ lives.

                14. Be Affectionate and Give Praise

                Your children need your affection and praise on a daily basis. Engage with your kids as often as possible by playing with them, going on outings, and encouraging open dialogue.

                Affirm them in the things that they are doing well, no matter how small. Praise their efforts, rather than their achievements. This will inspire them to continue to put forth hard work and not give up when success is not achieved.

                Rather than spending money on gifts, spend time and effort in making lasting memories.

                Final Thoughts

                Being a single parent is a challenging responsibility to take on. Without the help of a partner to fall back on, single parents have a lot more to take on.

                However, studies show that growing up in a single parent home does not have a negative effect on achievement in school. As long as the family is a stable and safe environment, kids are able to excel and do well in life.

                Use these tips in order to be a reliable and capable parent for your kids, while maintaining your own well-being and sanity.

                More Resources About Parenting

                Featured photo credit: Bruno Nascimento via unsplash.com

                Reference

                Read Next