Monday, December 14, 2009

12 Holiday Ideas for Giving Quality Time To Your Children, from Babies & Toddlers to Teens & Young Adults

by Janis Brett Elspas

It doesn't matter whether you celebrate Hanukkah (Dec. 11-19), Christmas (Dec. 25),  Kwanzaa (Dec. 26 - Jan. 1), or some combination of these, today we live in a materialistic world year round and the holiday retail season may sometimes seem to magnify the problem.  During this hectic, often stressful time, it's particularly easy to lose sight of what the children we care about truly want and need from us parents and/or caregivers.  Yet, deep down, few would disagree that whether a child is a baby, older kid, teen, college student, or young adult newly living on their own, each has the same basic desire that no expensive present can ever really replace: to share quality time with those who love him.  Mini MommyBlogExpert is pictured here with the finished Hanukkah cookies she decorated and baked with MommyBlogExpert last night.

Here are my original ideas for 12 progressive ways to spend meaningful holiday moments with your children, from when they are babies until they are old enough to move out permanently.  Hopefully, these will be just the starting point for you to create your own unique ways to sharing quality family time this holiday season.

1. The next time you feel like putting your baby in the porta crib to play alone while you tend to chores around the house -- pick and just hold him/her up instead and sing some holiday songs.  You can also read some seasonal picture books or play a holiday-theme game together, depending on their age.

2.  Instead of going shopping for gifts, treat your toddler to a stroller ride at your local mall to see all the lights and colorful decorations and take him/her into a toy store or pet shop to explore and have some fun.  You don't have to buy anything to enjoy these stores, so just this once don't do any shopping yourself and make this trip to the mall all about spending time with your child.

3.  Consider passing up doing the laundry one morning and doing something that will be a lot more fun for you both:  dream warmly and take an older preschooler outside and build a snowman together if you live in a cold climate.  Then, use some of the out-grown or worn-out clothes and accessories you have to dress it up.  If you don't get snow, that's no excuse: Why not go to the beach and build a sandman instead?

4.  Your kid will think he's dreaming if you do this for him/her one morning.  Indulge your kindergartner before sending them off to school one day this week, with a surprise at breakfast: a cup of hot chocolate & whipped cream with a candy cane garnish for them to stir their treat.

5.  Don't rush directly home after picking up that first or second grader up from school.  Take your child on an impromptu visit to the library and have him/her read holiday picture books and stories to you (or read with them, if they have not yet begun to read on their own).  Lots of libraries have free videos you can borrow, so consider bringing a few holiday favorites home that you watch together later with the whole family.  Alternately, hang out together in the child's section of a local bookstore or Barnes & Noble.

6.  While the older elementary kids are in class on the last day before their winter break, here's something they'll probably never forget.  Before driving afternoon carpool, decorate your dinner table at home and prepare some really special foods associated with the holiday(s) you celebrate.  Then, when you pick your child up have holiday music playing in the car to get him/her in the mood for the surprise that awaits them at home.  You can even add to the fun, and extend the celebration into the evening, by planning some holiday party games for the family to play together after dinner.

7.  Give your tween daughter a surprise mental health day off from school with a Glam Spa Day at home (on a day when there are no tests or anything else really important going on, of course).  With both of you staying in your PJs/robes all day, give each other manicures and pedicures with some holiday mint foot scrub, paint and decorate fingernails, and set or style each other's hair and add festive accessories.  Then, get dressed up in your holiday finery and enjoy a fancy holiday lunch in the kitchen together.

8.  Here's an idea to get boys and men involved.  A dad might consider calling in sick from work one day, and declaring a mandatory day away from the classroom for his tween son to join him for sledding, building snow forts, or some good-natured snowball fighting (if you have snow) or going off together on a hike or adventurous bike ride (in warm areas).

9.  Tweens and teens will love this one which is a personal favorite of mine that I like to do one-on-one with each of my four kids so they get my undivided attention.  Let your tween/teen skip the homework one night (as long as there is nothing important due the next day) and bake and decorate cookies with your younger teen son or daughter.  All you need is to download a homemade sugar cookie recipe off the Internet, get some fun cookie cutters that reflect your kid's interests (party stores are a good source of these), and some different sprinkles and decorating sugars (from your grocery store).  Kids will love eating what they've made, too, and giving them to their friends as gifts.

10.  Even with their greater responsibilities that come with the associated attitudes, older teens are also fun to spend time with during the holidays.  Offer to throw a finals study party for your teen and his/her friends at home and let him/her choose the menu of what foods will be served.  Then, when they arrive wait on these hard-working kids hand and foot, like they are royalty, as well as make yourself available for organizing and running a Jeopardy style question and answer game to help them have some fun, while they review the material they must know.

11.  Older teens often enjoy doing things they are good at or are interested in and may even have required community service to do in conjunction with school, so give your teen some ideas of how they can help others who might be less fortunate during the holidays.  Think of the types of organizations your teen might enjoy helping most, as well as consider his/her interests, then volunteer as a family.  If your teen likes to sing or play a musical instrument, you could visit a hospital or rehab center to entertain patients together.  If you have an animal-loving teen, check into volunteering together to help out during the holiday season at an animal shelter.  The key is to gear the charitable activity to something the teen enjoys to do, and invite a few of their friends along to join the fun with you.

12.  Kids coming home for the holidays for the first time, may have only been living away at school since September or are now working and off on their own, but most welcome the chance to return to their familiar childhood home.  Make the holidays as special as possible for them by making a big welcome home banner to hang on the front door or in the front yard before heading to the airport to pick him/her up.  When your teen arrives at the house, have some of his/her old friends waiting to surprise him/her and then serve them all a special meal you've prepared ahead of time consisting of your child's favorite food that he/she probably hasn't had since leaving home.

I hope these 12 Holiday Ideas for Giving Time To Kids of All Ages, Baby to Young Adult will inspire you to think of many more ways to give the most precious gift of all to your children -- your time. Remember, material gifts are almost always eventually outgrown and forgotten, yet time well spent with family creates memories that will last a lifetime.

Please leave a comment here with your own ideas on giving time to your children during the holidays. Looking forward to a lively exchange!

No Matter How You Celebrate - Wishing a Sweet Holiday Season to All!

1 comment:

  1. yuuuuummmm my mouth is just watering when i say the picture of the cookies mmmmmmm... My favorite food... cookies (although in try not to eat too much:D)