By Christa D. Reed
It seems like every year right around November 6th or so, ample time for my four boys to have crashed and burned from their fog of sugar rushes and candy highs; that I start hearing about all the things in the world that would be “so cool to have this year!” or mutterings like, “everyone else we know has an Xbox One system, nobody plays the “old” Xbox system anymore, mom how lame!” or “Did you hear about the kid at school that got an iPad for his birthday?” And don’t forget, “I think I might be the only kid without an iPhone, mom!”
This is typically when a lump in the bottom of my stomach begins to fester and grow. I get this overwhelming feeling of dread thinking about all the stress of the holidays and everything the season brings along with it, and if you’re like me, things can even start feeling a little blue.
This time of year can make parents feel a great deal of pressure to “keep up with the Santa next door” by overspending and getting into a financial hole while losing sight of what the true meaning of the holiday is really about. So how can we survive the stress without having that lump in our stomach overtake our entire body?
When we let stress get the best of us this time of year, we end up missing all the fun we could have had with our family because we were too busy stressing out! Kids are not immune to our stress either. They hear the news about protests, high unemployment, and our ailing economy, and no doubt there are numerous families feeling the pressure this holiday season even greater than ever before. So what exactly is a loving parent to do when they see their children’s wish lists growing larger and larger while knowing they may not be able to deliver?
Here are my top 5 holiday tips to beat the blues and not see ‘red’:
1) Change your family focus. If you can focus more on the season of giving and how the spirit of the holidays is truly about sharing by celebrating the love of family and friends, and NOT how much gifts cost or getting the most expensive gift for each child, it can be a wonderful opportunity to focus on the joy the season can bring. Having your kids collect some of their gently used toys that they no longer use and having them donate to the local thrift store is one great way to teach them the spirit of giving while also making room for all the new toys that will arrive on Christmas morning.
2) Start new family traditions. Get creative by finding ways to scale down the spending and think outside the box! To focus more on ‘thoughtful giving’ this year, our family is starting a new holiday tradition. When the boys are buying gifts for each other we put a $5.00 spending limit on each gift. This will require them to think ahead and make a plan, get creative and visit the local dollar store, or even make or bake gifts for each other instead. They are already thinking of what they are going to do and how much fun it will be.
3) Take smaller gifts and put them into larger boxes. Use bright colored paper, ribbons, and bows and your children will delight in the visual presentation of all those brightly wrapped presents under the tree. You can use smaller, inexpensive toys and wrap them up and then put them in larger boxes and wrap them to create a fun and joyous celebration for your kids. It won’t even matter what’s inside because they will be having so much fun! And if they’re like my twins, they loved playing with the boxes and wrapping paper more than the toys anyway! When her twins were younger, one of my twin-mom friends used to only put out Christmas themed books under the tree all season long until Christmas morning, this would prevent the kids from always trying to guess what was inside each present and also created a visual extravaganza for her kids when seeing all the wrapped gifts under the tree for the first time!
4) Set a budget for each child and stick to it! This is so hard to do when all the stores are begging you to spend, spend, spend and you see so many sales that are hard to miss! If your child is asking Santa for a really expensive toy, suggest asking for a less expensive toy that would still make them feel special and loved while not breaking the bank. Explain to them that everyone has to scale back this year, even at Santa’s workshop! Also, when setting a budget, it forces you to be creative with your spending as well. Some thrift and consignment stores have amazing toys that are barely used and would bring hours of fun for your little ones without paying full price.
5) Reassure your twins that they are loved and cherished no matter what! Even though people may have less this year than in the past, explain to your kids that the holidays are more about celebrating by spending time with family and friends and creating life-long memories. Tell them that they will always have a family that celebrates the season no matter what is happening around them and they are loved and cherished.
As always, the entire staff here at TWINS Magazine would like to take a moment to thank all of you for your continued loyalty and support for our magazine and social media pages! Happy Holiday! Here’s wishing you and your family a wondrous season filled with love and joy!
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