During the holidays, cherished time with our children can slip away from us. We get so busy cooking meals, hosting out-of-town guests, shopping, wrapping gifts, and keeping up with parties and commitments that our kids may feel like they’re in the way during this very special time of year.
While showering your children with holiday gifts is nice, what kids really need and want is our time and attention. That’s why we’ve put together these top 12 “gifts of your time” this holiday (psst – these things don’t cost you any money either!):
1. Bake Together: Invite your children to bake cookies with you – allowing them to put their special touches on many of your baked goods. Assign them important jobs from helping you sift flour to packaging items in baggies. The more included they are in the process, the more special they’ll feel!
2. Exercise Together: De-stress as a family by making a morning walk once a week (or more) a family ritual. For example, if weather permits, take a stroll every Sunday morning together to a coffee shop. Enjoy exercise, fresh air and quality time as a family.
3. Make Your Child a Gift: Children make handmade gifts for their parents all the time. Show your child you took the time to make them a homemade gift too – maybe a coupon book of your own or a scrapbook of your memories together.
4. Snuggle: Our children need to be held and what better way to do that than to spend a few moments at the end of each day to snuggle in bed. Just listen to anything they have to say and don’t allow iPhones or other distractions get in the way of your quality snuggle time!
5. Be Silly: When children see their parents stressed, they feel stressed too. However, the opposite can be true as well. When you’re silly, they’ll feeling silly. Sing goofy holiday songs while you cook, decorate the cookies with funny toppings, and use silly voices when reading to your child.
6. Ask Your Child to Help: Parents can feel overwhelmed by all the holiday commitments so much so that they forget to ask for help. Your child may be more than willing to walk the dog, wrap some presents or package treats for their teachers. Give them an age appropriate job and let them soar!
7. Cherish Quiet Moments: There’s a lot of go-go during the holidays, so when there are lulls in the week, enjoy some quiet moments listening to your kids. Sit and read a book or play a board game together, laugh together, and truly listen to your child when she speaks.
8. Say It: Kids need to hear everyday that they’re loved, that they’re worthy, and that they’re special. Say these things often – don’t let a day go by without making them feel special no matter how busy you get.
9. Leave Notes: Our kids love getting special attention at unexpected times. Slip a note in their lunch box or dance bag, tape a note to his bathroom mirror, or slip a note under her pillow at night. Perhaps you could even sign your notes from, “Your Secret Admirer,” and keep your kid guessing who might have left them the notes! Little gestures of love go a long way to building a child’s self esteem.
10. Read, Read, Read: Reading can help clear your mind of all the stress of the day and whisk you away into a made up land of fairies and aliens. Enjoy a few books together throughout the day – not just at night – and let both of your minds fall into relaxation mode. Give your child plenty of fun books to cherish, including a personalized book from I See Me! where your child can be the star of his or her very own adventure!
11. Watch Her: Children are excited to share their newest talent with their parents. How many times have we heard, “Watch me dance,” or “Watch me do a cartwheel,” and we simply respond by saying, “That’s nice honey.” Set the stage for your child to put on a performance and be a good, undistracted audience member no matter how busy you are.
12. Make Him a Special Meal: Food is a language of love. Ask your child what his favorite meal is and then make that meal especially for him one day. Perhaps it’s a special meal you only make on occasion, but he’ll know you made it just because you love him.
Remember, don’t let the holiday stress deter you from what’s important. Take the time to make your child feel loved and special this holiday season. You might just find you feel better for it too!