Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Overwhelmed already? 'Tis the (frantic) season (in a few weeks)
Oh, man... I feel it. The neighbours across the street had their Christmas lights up (and lit) before Halloween. The stuff in the stores started appearing in August. The ads started in the papers, on bus stops, in stores and on tv by Canadian Thanksgiving (second Monday in October).

While I appreciate that stores are hoping to make 50% of their annual earnings between October 15 and December 31, and that everyone seems to be celebrating earlier and earlier... People, could we have some restraint. 

Have you lived with a 2 year old through 10 weeks of immersion in Christmas? By the 13th of December, they are already overwhelmed, and the excitement of Christmas Eve often makes them barf. 

There is simply no way that kind of ongoing hype can lead to anything but disappointment.

What is a thoughtful parent to do? How can we protect children from the onslaught of all-things-merry-and-bright while sustaining the magic of the season, and not go broke or crazy ourselves in the process?

Sane Holiday Preparations
  • make two budgets -- one for time/activities and one for money
  • slow down in general -- if it's a special season, all the regular stuff need not be done in addition to all the seasonal stuff
  • find out what you do love about the holiday season and do that
  • determine what you find a burden about the holidays and do not do that
There are many books and websites about bringing the meaning back to the season, filled with great tips for making the holidays personal again, and taking out the obligatory unpleasantness. Many even include suggestions for helping relatives near and far understand why you're opting out. 

Stay focused on the things you love and ignore the pressure to do everything.

There Are SO Many Things To Want

Here are a few suggestions for avoiding the wall-to-wall advertising aimed at your kids, so you don't have to deal with the non-stop 'wants' and to prevent some of the more predictable sources of disappointment:
  • instead of going to the mall or stores:
    •  go to a park and feed the ducks or to look for the seasonal changes
    • visit friends or relatives or local nursing homes
    • play in the yard in all weather except horizontal rain and blizzards
    • go to the library and pick out seasonal books, DVDs, CDs or to enjoy the seasonal activities
    • look at the local events pages and do something new: go to a concert, look at the tree decorating competitions or craft fairs or other fundraisers, parades...
    • walk around the neighbourhood after dark to see the light displays
  • instead of watching tv and listening to radio (advertisements):
    • stream tv and movies, ad-free, from online services (a subscription will save you a lot of money, and you can have on just for a few weeks or months), an ad blocker app can help
    • watch videos or DVDs and listen to recorded music
    •  check your friends' collections and the library for free variety
  • instead of shopping (where all that stuff to want is displayed so alluringly) for gifts for others
    • make gifts --libraries have a whole section of gift crafts, and there is Pinterest
    • take already-made artwork, or have the kids make more, and frame it for aunts, uncles, grandparents --they are obliged to appreciate kid art

  • instead of having the kids make a single request from Santa
    • get them to make a long, long list, of all the things they would like, so there are various price points for different budgets and not a single focus on the Santa request (or the guaranteed disappointment of not getting the live baby tiger)
    • get them to make lists and plans for what they're going to give others, how they are going to surprise or delight their friends and family (to focus their attention on the fun of giving to others instead of the greed of getting.)

In all your delightful free time, you'll find it an attractive idea to engage in a seasonal craft or baking project

You will probably save money because in the absence of all the 'great ideas' suggested by advertisers, kids generally come up with much shorter, more personal lists.

1 comment:

  1. Right on! It only took me about 50 years to learn that....