One of the things that I see single parents and stepfamilies (and other families) do at the holiday times is stress about how much they can spend on the kids.
Worse, they feel soooo bad about not having a lot of money or enough money to buy all the things their kids want.
In order to prepare their kids to go without the latest ipad, xbox, or favorite toy ever, they tell their kids that “we aren’t going to have a big Christmas this year” or “we don’t have a lot of money for Christmas” this year.
My own personal opinion is this is the one thing you never want to tell your children at holidays.
“What do you mean?”, you say to me. “Shouldn’t I prepare them for not getting what they want?”, you say to me.
Because by saying things like that, you are creating SCARCITY as part of your holidays.
And nothing could be further from the truth of Christmas. Holidays are about being together, sharing memories, and giving as well as receiving.
So… what do you do or say instead???
1. When your kids start listing off what they want, just listen and let them. Marvel at all the wonderful things there are in the world to want when you are a kid instead of feeling guilty that you aren’t giving them everything they want. (Even Santa Claus doesn’t give kids everything they want. He just gives them one or two things because he has to remember all the children of the world.)
2. You can say, “It’s so fun to think about all that stuff, isn’t it? I wish a magic fairy would just send it all to you right now.” If they remark back, “what about Santa Claus?”. You can say, “Santa Claus has to remember all the children of the world, and I know he will remember you.”
3. Make sure everyone is evenly gifted among the kids– bio kids, step kids, alike, and make sure that grandparents know how to do that too. (If you have a grandparent that wants to give something extra- do it at another time and not in front of all the kids.)
4. Teach your children to focus on others, not just themselves. Christmas isn’t just about getting, it is also about giving. You and your kids go to the grocery store, buy some canned food, and donate it to the food bank. Have your kids clean out their closets before Christmas, and take the clothes and toys they’ve outgrown to the Salvation Army or Goodwill or Homeless shelter. Do a fun run for a good cause. Have each kid pick out an inexpensive toy to donate as well.
5. No matter how much you want to try, don’t compete with your ex in the gift giving department. You are enough. And when your kids talk about all the gifts they got from their other parent, just ooh and aah. Your kids may not remember what they got from the other parent in 10 years, but they will remember a mean comment by you, so just bite your tongue.
So drop the guilt, squelch the urge to spend your last $200 of credit on that really expensive doll or electronic toy, and give your children what they will actually remember year after year after year….
You, and holidays rich and full with memories of traditions, love, and thoughtfulness.