Simple Ideas with Profound Impact
The Gift of Time, The Best Holiday Gift for Kids
The race to get ready for the holidays has begun! This is such a very busy time of the year! There are so many holidays and celebrations. Americans celebrate Thanksgiving in late November. Muslims all over the world celebrated the Prophet’s Birthday (Mawlid al-Nabi al-Sharif) on November 20th/21st. Jewish people all over the world are celebrating Hanukkah from December 3rd to the 10th. Christians all over the world will celebrate Christmas on December 24th and 25th. Those are just a few celebrations. Then, of course, there are also those non-religious folks who join in on the “Santa Claus” spirit of celebrating with gift giving.
It’s a wonderful time of year but it comes with a lot of extra stress and, for children, often a lot of disruption in their daily routine. There is a feast to be made, a house to decorate, family to visit and/or receive, parties to attend and gifts to be purchased. It is during times like this that we often see children’s behavior head south! Children are sponges and they are a reflection of their parents. When you are stressed, so are they!
So, for our end of the year blogs we will focus on tips, ideas, and suggestions to help you manage your stress so you can focus on what is important to you, your children, and your family! We will also offer you our BFK recommendations for best gifts for the children and for parents.
I will begin today by talking about the most important gift you can give to your children, your family, and your friends. The gift of TIME and memory building! There is no better gift you can give than sharing yourself and your time with someone. Truth is, children appreciate this more than anything else you can purchase. The best thing is that it does not have to cost you anything!
You and your children do not need added stress in your life. Think about it! Toys come and go, material things come and go, but memories and feelings are there forever! I love the saying “People may not remember what you said but they will always remember how you made them feel!” That is even more important and true with children. And even more important today when our lifestyle is so connected to electronics. Often, we are physically with our children but we are not emotionally connecting with them.
So, I highly recommend that you consider making it a priority this holiday to give the gift of time and memory building. This gift will not only be enjoyed and appreciated by the person who receives it but also will be enjoyed and appreciated by you. It’s a win-win situation! It will warm your heart and relax your nerves! 😉
Here are some suggestions of what this gift can look like, ranging from free things you can do with your children to more expensive ones.
Pretend Indoors Camping:
Make a card by hand on which you write: Dear (child’s name), I love you and I want to give you a gift of playing pretend camping together this Friday (or whatever date you choose) from (this time to this time). Enclosed are some of the things we will need to build our tent. The rest will come from our imaginations! Love, Mom or Dad. In a box, add what you will use to build the tent. It can be bed linens or blankets that you will drape over chairs, sofas, or beds. The most fun toys are the pretend ones, the ones we build using things we have around the house. Make a stove from real bricks or from pieces of wood. Make a bed for the dolls using pillows. The fun comes from just being with your child without the smartphone or any other interruptions. Include all of your children in the game. So, the card might be addressed to all of the children unless you want this to be a special time with just one child.
Dress Up Date:
You can include this as part of the camping date or at another time. It could be Tea Time and as part of that you get dressed up in some fun clothes!
At Home Movie Night:
Choose a special movie to watch together. The movie is not really the important part here. The important part is the ritual you design and go through before the movie comes on and during the movie. Decide what treats you will have during the movie. Choose something that you and your child can make together. Popcorn for example. After all it is movie night! Have your child help you make the popcorn with whatever steps are safe and age-appropriate. It might be as simple as putting the popcorn in pretty individual bowls. In our family, Juliana and I always liked hot tamales in our popcorn. She continues that tradition with her children. So, decide how many hot tamales can be added to each bowl of popcorn and, with your guidance, let your children put that together. Whatever treats you choose, make the presentation pretty as this teaches your child that this time together is really special to you. By making it nice you are telling your children how much you value your time together with them. The attention you place on the little details demonstrates how much you value being with them.
Other more costly but valuable gifts that build memories for both you and your kids are:
Scheduled visits to children’s museums, plays, ballets, sporting events. Places that you would like to attend with your children make great holiday gifts. You can even make some a yearly event. And those memories will multiply. If you remember our blog on the importance of frequency, intensity and duration and its relationship to brain development, you will appreciate the importance of having traditions.
In our family, when Juliana was growing up, we began our Christmas celebration by attending the matinee showing (11:00 am) of the Nutcracker Ballet on Christmas Eve. We got dressed up in our nicest clothing and went to the ballet. Afterwards, we went out to lunch before then returning home to begin preparing our traditional Portuguese Christmas Eve meal.
That is how we build valued memories! The best memories, the ones which your children and you will remember and value, are created during those special times you spend doing things together. It isn’t the movie that matters, it is the time you spent snuggling together while watching the movie! The gift of undivided quality time talking, sharing, and playing with your children, your spouse or partner, your friends is the best gift you can give them and yourself!
I hope you take my suggestion to heart. Give yourself and your kids a break and focus on what is important in life! Give your kids the gift of your time! It is truly a priceless gift.