Oh December, one of the busiest months of the year, is it possible to still connect with your children this month, while still maintaining the level of activity you need to in your profession (whether that is as a paid employee, mother of children, or both)? Possibly, although, my vision of what we should do this month, always falls far short of what we actually do.
The following are a few ideas that do seem to fit in more easily than others:
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Play with a nativity.
Because this time of year is deeply rooted to our faith in Jesus Christ, a major focus of what we teach our children is centered on teaching them the story of His birth. One of the easiest ways to do that, is to simply have nativity sets around that they can play with. We do have some up high, but the toy nativity set gets played with every day and it naturally brings about good discussions.
I know we talked about serving in November, too, but this time of year there are many natural opportunities to serve. If you hear of them and you are able to participate these can become valuable teaching moments. You’re kids can learn about compassion, unselfishness and being more aware of others. Here are a few ideas to try:
- Kindness elves: a spin on the Elf on the Shelf. The kids are encouraged to help others by their visiting elves.
- Plan a service project like visiting a nursing home, buying toys for an Angel Tree or donating to a local food bank.
- Follow the #Light the World campaign sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Each day you can watch a small video depicting a moment from the life of Christ alongside a moment from today depicting how you could follow His example. If you’d like to join you can print off a calendar here and follow the initiative here.
Make a bucket list.
A bucket list is really just a list of activities you want to make sure you do sometime within a given time period that often can be done at anytime. Since, there is so much going on this month, we are being careful to limit this list to 10-12 items, many of which can be combined and done on the same night. On our list, this year: watching favorite Christmas movies, decorating a gingerbread house, going to see lights somewhere and making cookies . I’m thinking a bonus on this one is that we will have some ideas of what to do for the week before Christmas.
Wrapping paper collage.
This probably occurs naturally in most homes, but if it doesn’t and your child seems interested, grab some wrapping paper, bows and tags and allow your kids to decorate a piece of paper or box with them. You can encourage them to practice their cutting skills and can try to teach them about tape, if you want. This is mostly to give toddlers something to do while you’re trying to do something else.
Learn about presents.
Lessons on present giving and getting abound this month: how to think about others while purchasing them, how to wrap them and how to be grateful when receiving. We’ve played a manners game, in the past, that entailed wrapping up a random household item, opening it and finding something nice to say about that item. The purpose of the game was not to compare what others give us to useless junk, but to practice the art of considering others and the beauty of their thoughtfulness. Not that my kids don’t still act like, they have no idea how to thank a person every time they get a gift, but they’re getting a bit better.
And don’t forget to read some Christmas books, here are a few of our favorites:
The Grinch Who Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss: A classic about a grumpy old who-man who tries to stop Christmas from coming by taking away all of the presents and food. This is a great one for talking about what Christmas really means as well as just enjoying a good read-aloud.
Humphrey’s First Christmas by Carol Heyer: Love this book! Makes me laugh and cry everytime. Humphrey is a self-absorbed camel who has lost his beloved carpet blanket, the first half of the book he is totally absorbed in trying to get a new one and complaining about the 3 heavy chests that have been strapped to his back, the second half, he becomes confused and then awed when the caravan reaches their destination.
The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson: This one is a chapter book for older kids. In it, the town is putting on a Nativity play and the town bullies are invited to join in, having never heard the story before, they cause quite a stir. This book inspired us to look at the Christmas story and those around us with new eyes.
What about you, what are some simple activities you do this month to teach and enjoy being with your children?
Write it down in a journal, talk it over with a friend or leave a comment on Facebook.