How to Make Time for Your Children During the Holiday Rush (Part 2)

By , December 3, 2017

This concludes this essay on making time for children during the holiday rush. For the first part, go here. We pick up with checking with your children to see what they hope for and expect from the season:

If you haven’t already done so, consult the children. Talk to them about their hopes for the season.

If at first all they talk about is the gifts they want, hear them out, then ask them specific questions about the holiday. Ask questions like, “What does Christmas look like? What does it sound like? What does it smell like?” Are there any special treats they hope for? Enlist their help in creating them this year. In every activity, search for ways to involve your child. Adjust your list accordingly.

Zeiger Children on Christmas Eve

(L-R): David, Beth, and Mark Zeiger on Christmas Eve, Sitka, Alaska 1969 or 1970 (Photo: Gail Woodland).

When your “to-do” list is whittled down, make a plan for implementing it. If you don’t have a personal planner, buy one (or get one free from your insurance agent, banker, or doctor) and use it, if only for the season. Schedule events as much as possible, and carry this schedule with you everywhere, at all times. Refer to it often, making changes as needed.

This planner will be your guide through the season. If someone comes to you with a new task, open that planner then and there, and tell them if you can or can’t do it. This lends unimpeachable authority to your refusals when necessary!

Evaluate each task for child involvement. Many directly focus on your children, such as school events. Look at the ones that don’t involve your children, and seek ways to include them. If a child can’t be involved in a particular activity, find ways to do it when children aren’t available, such as during school or daycare hours, when possible.

Remember: there should be a few tasks on your list that don’t involve children. Being a whole parent requires making time for yourself, for adult interests and interaction. Making your children the focus of your season should not mean denying your needs as a person, as that ultimately diminishes your value as a parent.

Clear the decks of the normal day-to-day. Remember, the holiday season is sacred; keep the “profane” to a minimum. You still need to work, you still need to pay bills, you still have to take care of business. Prepare ahead of time to minimize these tasks through the holiday season. If you can, pay your bills early! The security of knowing your debts are paid at the moment will do wonders for your well-being during the holiday. Do as much pre-season grocery shopping as you can. If you have paid leave available, apply for it right now, to get the prime days off. Use as much of it as you can to spend the most time possible with your children.

Many parents apply for the same break as the local school observes. Try to schedule a few extra days before the school break begins, to take care of business beforehand. If you can, reschedule work projects for after the holidays. You’ll feel better, and anyone working under you will, too!

Gift shopping is probably the most stressful and time-consuming holiday activity. Watch for gifts for family and friends throughout the year. You’ll find the selection is better, and you can take advantage of a wider variety of sales. Spreading out the spending over time makes economic sense.

As you find each gift, wrap it in holiday paper and hide it somewhere. This helps resist the temptation to gift early! If you keep gift-giving in mind all year, you’ll also be more likely to find time and opportunities to hand make gifts rather than buying them. A note in your planner or calendar will remind you that you already have gifts when the holidays come.

There’s an old popular Christmas song, Christmas Is for Children. Make it so! Remember the “kicker” of the song’s chorus: “But, aren’t we all children Christmas day?” Let the holidays of your childhood inspire an understanding and interest in your children’s holidays. Remember that your time with them is painfully brief. Each holiday is a new milestone in your life together. Each holiday the children are a year older, with a new year’s worth of experiences, ideas, hopes and dreams.

Soon they will be grown. When that day comes, there will be time enough for “the holiday rush.” Right now, focus on your children. Give them a most precious gift: good family holiday memories. These moments will not come again!

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