It cant be that time of year again already?!?! CAN IT?!?
The glistening decorations hanging from the ceilings of shopping centers, the theme of merriment, which accompanies the 7pm movie time slot, the abundance of catalogues filling the mailbox…its all telling me that Christmas is fast approaching. And so accompanies feelings of excitement, childlike fun, anticipation, joy, and a spark in my heart as I think about all the beautiful family traditions we are about to enjoy…decorating the tree, and visiting houses dressed in beautiful twinkling lights.
Mama Being Frank…I don’t know about you…but since becoming a mama…it seems that the true joy of Christmas has been reignited. When you have the pitter patter of little feet running around, you cant seem to help feeling those childhood feelings of excitement, anticipation, you know the feelings of nostalgia that Christmas brings.
At the risk of sounding contradictory….on the other hand, as adulthood approaches, and parenthood comes along, Christmas also seems to come with an added sense of pressure. I wonder to myself, and now out aloud…why? Why is it that this time of year, a time filled with an abundance of love, joy, hope, forgiveness, and faith, is often also occupied with a sense of pressure, expectation, stress and even anxiety?
And then it dawned on me….could it be the experience that Christmas, a time to give and a time to be together with loved ones, has also become a time filled with many expectations….expectations of what presents to buy, what food to prepare, what decorations to hang and how to schedule in all the many visits to beloved family and friends? For me, now, as a Mama, this thought sits heavily in my heart.
I know as a new parent, I have felt the pressure, whether it’s societal or self inflicted, but its there – the pressure to have a vast range of educational and stimulating activities and toys for my little ones. And the sense of pressure to provide the best and always the best….in and in a materialistic world this usually means one thing. The constant assessment of what they are learning and what kinds of toys they are playing with. The pressure to…keep them busy and stimulated with toys more suited to their age, more suited to their developmental stage. I recently read a blog post published by raisedgood.com in it they reported that the average western child has in excess of 150 toys each and receives an additional 70 toys per year. Crazy but in reflection…not out that unbelievable. I know myself…as an adult, choice can be so overwhelming….so of course its this and more for our children.
My parents and grandparents childhood was one of simplicity. They were immersed in childhood. They were out building cubby houses, collecting rocks, chasing tadpoles and having the time of their lives. This is the childhood I hope for my children. When my Dad was little, at Christmas time they received one gift, one gift. I remember him recalling a time where he was given a wooden train, which he obviously treasured and adored. They would sit down for a family dinner and they would play. I question now, what gifts will our children hold close to their heart? What memories will they hold dear? Or is there so much focus on materialistic gains, that the feeling of gratitude and thankfulness wont leave an in print on their hearts. This thought frightens me.
So I ask myself, how, at this time of year, a time of year filled with expectation, do I as a parent promote and nurture what Christmas is really meant to be about? How do I as a parent, teach my children to be gracious, in a world where graciousness seems to be hidden under the drive to want and obtain possessions? How do I simplify Christmas to exposé what it’s really meant to be about, whilst not taking away the childhood excitement of what hides under the tree come Christmas morning.
As parents we have somehow moved from a state of struggling to provide enough, now into a period where we struggle not to provide too much. So as Christmas fast approaches, how do we as parents help our children maintain a sense of simplicity, a sense of gratitude, and a sense of what Christmas is really meant to be about. In turn, relieving some of the pressure we as parents catch in this busy time of year.
How do I as a parent instill in my child that we are blessed to live in a part of the world that wants for nothing, when he and she is unintentionally encouraged to want more and give less. And yes, I know that it’s a fact that the world has moved on from a simpler slower paced way of life and so some of this quick paced, life filled with stuff, is normal. And I say this with both a sense of sadness as well as appreciation.
Naturally as parents we want to provide our kids with the best start in life, and this often becomes an attempt to provide ‘the best of everything’…. If a little is good, we think more is better, or is it?
Simplicity Parenting experts suggest that there are four pillars of excess; having too much stuff, too many choices, too much information, too much speed. When I think of a classic time, where these four pillars seem to be at full force….i think of Christmas. Oh how easy it is for our children to be given so many gifts from loving relatives and friends, to the point where they don’t know what is from who, and the next few days is spent rediscovering what they actually received, and what to play with first.
Oh I feel like I’m sounding like the Grinch….I really am a Christmas lover. You know the people who turn up with reindeer ears on their heads and Christmas carols playing from their cars…. and the gifts that are wrapped with three different kinds of ribbon with an ornament on top…. yup that’s me!!!! But what I love more is my family, and my babies having the childhood that they so deserve.
When children are overwhelmed by busyness and choice, they lose the precious time they need to explore, play and release tension. Children need this time to develop creativity, imagination and self directed learning.
Mama Being Frank….The biggest gift we hope to give our children this year is their childhood. A Christmas where there main focus is to be silly, fun, loving kids who feel connected with the people in the world around them. By providing balance and actively trying to protect them from falling into ‘excess’. And by also modeling to them how to be gracious during a time of year, where a gift from each person you see has become expected rather than appreciated.
So this Christmas, we are going to remain focused on simplicity, in an attempt to allow space for our children to experience gratitude, thankfulness, and the joy of giving. For us this means, simplifying the gift giving and introducing family traditions that foster graciousness and thoughtfulness; sending anonymous Christmas cards to a stranger, filling their Santa sack with some of their pre loved toys and giving to those less fortunate.. in turn allowing us as parents, some space to breathe in the enjoyment that is Christmas. And giving our children the best gift, a gift where they have the space to really connect with the moment, and store everlasting memories filled with love and fun.
Originally Published via Wonderful Mama, A Thankyou Community
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