mom and daughter with cookbook
If I were to ask you what your child really wants this holiday season, what would you answer? The question may seem simplistic at first. “Jordyn wants an American Girl Doll. Zach wants a dinosaur set. Jimmy wants an iPad.”
Although these gifts are fun and exciting, we all know kids tire of them after a short while and then it’s back to the same ole mantra, “There’s nothing to do!” So what do kids really want?
Most kids probably can’t even articulate what they really want in a non-material sense. They are as caught up in the material world as most adults. But you know that money can’t buy happiness and on a deeper level they do too. So this season I encourage you to focus on the intangible gifts you can give your kids that are often overlooked and unwritten.
Here are three simple tips to help you give your child the best gift this holiday season- the gift of your time.
1. Turn off your cell phone once daily. I remember as a child if the house phone rang during dinner my parents would not allow me to get up and answer it. As annoying as it was then, I now appreciate the fact that they were creating an uninterrupted dinner atmosphere every night and giving my sister and I their time. Yet, I have to admit that I am as guilty as the next parent for spending too much time on my iPhone and not listening as often or as carefully as I could when my girls are talking. What about you? I just read an article that said on average a mom is on her smartphone 6 hours a day…and get this, when I googled ‘moms and cell phone usage’ one article that popped up said 12% of moms have even used their phones during sex! That is astounding. Start setting boundaries around your family time and stop allowing the phone to interrupt you. Nothing is more important than some uninterrupted time with your children, even if it’s just 30 minutes a day. So make a habit of ignoring the outside world at regular daily intervals.
2. Create a new family tradition. Growing up I always enjoyed baking and I knew that I would want to pass that love down to my girls, so a few years ago I created an envelope of ‘holiday recipes’ that I keep taped inside my kitchen cabinet that we make once a year in December. After having done this now for the past 4 years, they know the drill. We get all the recipes out, tally up all the ingredients we’ll need and the amounts (which is a great math lesson), purchase the supplies and start baking. We make everything from homemade fudge, to chocolate covered pretzels, to peppermint bark, buckeyes and more in just 2 afternoons. We enjoy the time listening to music, wearing our aprons and eating along the way. Then we have plenty to give to neighbors, teachers and friends. What do you enjoy and how can you pass on that love to your children by creating a new tradition?
3. Give them a gift that increases in value over time. Thinking back over your life, what are the gifts you remember most? Probably those that were given with a lot of thought and time put into them. It’s easy to go out and quickly drop hundreds of dollars on the latest fads but the best gifts are those timeless treasures that come from the heart. As I was talking with a friend recently she told me she was making a family recipe box for her daughter. She first sent out a letter to all the female family members with 2 recipe cards included asking for their favorite recipe written on one and one ‘life lesson’ recipe on the other that she could include in her daughter’s recipe box. Once they mailed them back she placed them inside a wooden box she had decorated especially for her with her name on it. This takes thought and time and yet this is a gift she will always treasure. Stop and think, what can you spend some time creating for your child this holiday season that will become an asset to them as the years go by?
When you spend your money you can earn it back, but once you have spent your time you have indeed spent something of true value that you can never replace. Show your children they matter, give them the gift of your time this holiday season and it will be one they will never forget!
April O’Leary is a Certified Life Coach, author and founder of the University of Moms a world-wide resource for moms to be inspired, educated and supported through online courses, free seminars and more. April and her husband Jim reside in Estero with their three girls. For more information visit apriloleary.com and uofmoms.com.