Holiday Fun With The Family
With Christmas approaching, who has time for fun?
The holidays may be enjoyable for everyone else, but for Mom, they often add up to extra stress: writing and mailing cards, buying and wrapping gifts, baking and cooking, more social obligations, negotiating family politics… It can be a rough season.
Which is why it’s important to buffer against some of that stress by reconnecting with those who make the season so special. If the spirit of the season is getting lost in the midst of an enormous to-do list, take something off the list and add “family fun” in its place.
Here’s a suggestion for how to start: give everyone in your family a sheet of paper with two columns, one for fun things to do together as a family that are free, and one for fun things that cost money. Give it a couple of days for everyone to create their lists; if your kids are crafty, they can add pictures from magazines to embellish their lists. Pick a day and time, and call a “family meeting” to talk about your lists. (Kids too young to write? Just brainstorm together and compile one master list with everyone’s ideas. Even three year olds will have ideas of fun things to do – and they might surprise you with how simple their wish list is. Then again, Disney World may keep popping up, but we’ll talk about that in a moment…)
In this meeting, talk about what nights or weekends you’ll put aside for family fun, and what your budget for these events is. This would be a good time to pull out your calendar and pencil in specific times for these fun events. Try planning for the next three months, so that you have plenty of opportunities for everyone’s choices to be included.
Now the only thing left to do is to reach a consensus on what fun activities you’ll do on which night. Let everyone participate and show them the value of compromise: if we do your brother’s fun activity on this day, even though it wouldn’t be your first choice, we’ll all do yours the following week. Make sure that everyone gets their say, and that as many suggestions as possible are worked into the calendar.
But what do you do if someone suggests Disney World? First of all, don’t dismiss it out of hand. If your child feels as though he’s said something stupid or that no one listens to his ideas, he’ll never volunteer anything again. Instead, let him know that it’s a great idea – because the family would definitely have fun doing it – but that it’s out of the budget range and that it’s not something you can do in an evening. But ask him if he’d like to put it on a list of possible vacations, and let him know that the next time you’re talking about taking a vacation, you’ll make sure that Disney World is up for consideration.
What happens if one person refuses to participate? Well, that’s her choice. Encourage her to join in, and let her know that she’ll be missed, but don’t insist on it. The reality is that when she sees the rest of the family enjoying themselves, she’ll be more likely to want to join in than if she’s strong-armed or guilted into it. And if someone doesn’t want to participate in someone else’s activity? Gently remind him that in a family everyone gets their turn and their say, and that while he may not be thrilled about going swimming, it would mean a lot to the rest of the family to have him there, and that his turn for picking an event will come up soon enough. Find out what might make a swimming outing more fun for him, and see if there’s some way to work that in, too.
While December is a busy month and you may cringe at the thought of adding anything else into your already-busy schedule, setting aside some time for family fun will re-energize you and give you some balance. And at the end of the day, isn’t family the whole reason we put ourselves through holiday craziness?