We’re more than halfway through our 25 Days of Christmas advent activities. In fact, Christmas is just a week away. (Oh my that just gave me butterflies in my belly!) I had hoped to update more regularly with the great joy of how successful this new tradition has been and to wow everyone with tales of our family fun. Not so. We’ve certainly had fun with it, and I’m not abandoning the idea for future years, but we’ve learned some lessons to help improve future years.
What I’ve learned so far:
- When your kids are young (mine are 10 months and 3.5 years) plan to do your activities in the morning whenever possible. Children are eager, happy and easy to please at this time. Many of ours have been post-dinner hour. These have been our least successful activities.
- Have a back-up plan. The lists are created before December and look so nice on paper, but when reality hits and life takes over you soon realize that what you hoped would work on a given day might not necessarily be the case. This is fine for us because my boys can’t read yet. We can swap out an activity quickly simply by making up an alternative. In future years it won’t be so easy.
- Keep it simple for little ones. We tried one about the joy of giving. We picked up an angel on our local angel tree to buy gifts for a child in our community who is less fortunate than us. I thought it would be fun to do one for a boy the same age as my oldest. While it was a valuable exercise and something I do every year anyway, trust me when I say my 3-year-old didn’t quite understand. His response when I explained was “and can we buy something for me too.” Plus how do you tell a 3 year old that some children’s parents can’t afford to buy them gifts. This is heavy for anyone, let alone a small child.
- The most important lesson so far has been the awareness that this is really about doing something fun as a family and for my children. That was my original goal, but in the early days I lost sight of it. I stressed when an activity didn’t go as smoothly as I would have liked. I tried early on to control things so that they would go as I expected them to. It wasn’t long before the light bulb came on and I realized that the fun comes from the adventure not the result and that the children should take the lead whenever they want. That is what makes it about family and fun.
Despite the kinks it has been an extraordinarily festive way to lead up to Christmas. I’m hooked! My son is too. Every day he anxiously asks “Is it time to open my envelope yet?” I guess it’s working.