This year, more than ever before, we are all reminded about what is truly important- time spent with family. 2020 has taught us all that a lot of the activities and distractions we were previously involved in were unnecessary and causing us stress. And if you have small children, realising that it is our time that they cherish, not what they are bought.
Think back to your own childhood- what is your favourite Christmas memory from your childhood? Everyone holds special memories in their minds of their experiences of Christmas as a child. Whether it was staying up late to watch the Late Late Toy Show, playing a particular boardgame together as a family or the annual argument putting up the tree, Christmas evokes memories and nostalgia for all of us of our family childhood experiences. Remembering what made you happy as a child can help you focus on what is important for your children.
Research shows that children who are involved in rituals and traditions are generally more well-adjusted as adults because of the sense of belonging created by the experiences. Traditions can be big or small but involve any activity you repeat with purpose, intention and heightened attentiveness. This special time needs to be free of distractions such as phones, iPads, laptops, TV. Having the same things happen each year adds to the magic for children and these will become their childhood Christmas memories. In terms of Christmas traditions, these can be any of the following:
-Making a trip as a family to buy the Christmas tree.
-Letting children choose Christmas music to listen to as a family while putting up the decorations.
-Sitting down together to write Christmas cards and getting children involved by helping with envelopes and stamps.
-Letting children choose toys they are happy to donate to local Limerick charities. Decluttering before Santa comes!
-Baking Christmas cookies and mince pies together.
-Playing cards or board games as a family.
-Reading a special Christmas Eve story.
-Lighting a candle in the window at dusk on Christmas Eve.
-Going for a walk locally as a family to see everyone’s Christmas lights on Christmas Eve.
Remember that it is unrealistic to achieve perfect Christmas memories- there will be arguments and complaints- this is part of normal family life. Allow yourself to let go of aiming for perfection. You will be more present, relaxed and will enjoy the simple Christmas family traditions you create if you are aiming for ‘good enough’ and not perfection this Christmas. Remember your children will remember the time you spent with them, not what they received.