Moms, let’s face it, Christmas is a really difficult time to be a good parent. We are stressed out, overscheduled, and there is little we can do to shield our children from the external influences of the most commercialized season of the year. In my house, on a daily basis, I am bombarded with requests from my kids asking for more and more of everything from “I want to add x, y and z to my Christmas list,” to “can I pretty please have one more piece of candy off of my gingerbread house?” So, how can we, as moms, help our children understand that this is a season of giving, not a season of getting.
Quite frankly, the only way we can pass on a spirit of giving to our children is if we ourselves are filled with a spirit of giving. You need to spend some time reflecting on your own values, looking within yourself to see if this is truly a family value you are living and modeling for your children, and, if not, think of ways you can start teaching your children the joy of sharing with others.
Being mom is hard work but while your kids are still at home, it’s the most important job you have. If we want our children to grow up to become compassionate, loving and kind adults, we must invest our time teaching them these values from the beginning. A great way to begin this process is to cultivate a spirit of giving in our children early on.
Below is a list of 7 things I compiled that we moms can do with our children to cultivate a spirit of giving this Christmas season. You don’t have to do all of these, and if you’re on a tight budget this year, pick just one or two from the list that won’t require you to spend any money at all. In the words of Mother Theresa, “It’s not how much we give but how much love we put into giving.”
7 Ways To Cultivate A Spirit of Giving in Your Children This Christmas
1. Talk about giving to others with your children.
First and foremost, the best way to cultivate a family value of giving is to talk about it with your children. Discuss ways your family can give to those in need and let your kids ask questions to help them understand that there are people we can help.
In our part of the world, my children are exposed to a lot of local poverty, there are many homeless villages we pass by on a daily basis. My children often ask us tough questions, like “why are those people living in tents”” or “how come they don’t have enough money to buy a house?” We welcome these questions since it gives us an opportunity to discuss difficult topics as a family, like how people sometime lose their jobs or how others suffer from mental or physical disabilities that prevent them from being able to support themselves. Don’t shy away from these tough questions and instead address them in a way that is truthful and compassionate.
2. Donate clothing and toys to a shelter or other local organization.
Help your children go through their toys and/or clothes and pick out a few things to donate to a shelter or other local organization accepting donations. This act of giving something of their own is a great way to get your kids involved in giving this season (and it helps to make room for all the new items coming your children’s way on Christmas day!).
Consider taking your children with you when you drop the items off at the shelter or other organization. This will help get them in the spirit of giving as they get to place their things in the donation box or hand them to the person accepting the donations.
3. Volunteer your time as a family.
Take some time this season to serve others together as a family. Think of things your children can help with – maybe an elderly neighbor could use some help raking leaves or shoveling snow, or you could take a shift at a soup kitchen or plan a visit to the local senior center to spend some time chatting or playing games with the residents.
One thing I plan on doing with my kids is to make personal care kits for the homeless. Just buy some brown paper bags and stuff them with personal care items like toothpaste or toothbrushes, snacks, socks and/or a list of local resources. Then spend time as a family handing these kits out to the homeless in your area.
4. Let your kids help with buying gifts for others.
This year, I let my older son help out with writing our Christmas gift giving budget. Then I let both kids help me look for gifts to give to our family members. This really helps take the focus off of what they want for themselves and instead shifts it to thinking about things we could purchase that would make their cousins, grandparents and aunts and uncles happy.
I love hearing my kids talk about what they think their family wants for Christmas, even if the idea is to buy a batman toy for Grandpa since “he really likes the batman toy I have.” It provides a good opportunity to talk to your children about seeing things from another person’s perspective.
5. Bring something homemade to your neighbors.
Making homemade items to share with others is one of my favorite ways to help my kids get into the spirit of giving. Spend some time making Christmas cards or baking cookies and then spend an afternoon distributing them to your neighbors. My neighbors (almost) always like to see my kids.
This also provides a wonderful opportunity to spend time just chatting with your neighbors. In the busyness of life it’s hard to find time to engage in a conversation with those who live near us. So this season, I encourage you to spend time getting to know your neighbors a little better.
6. Give locally.
Give to your church or another local organization this year. Spend time talking with your children about the local nonprofits that could use some monetary help this season. Then figure out the best way to make your donation.
Your children will learn about the local nonprofits and how they give back to the community. We’ve donated to our local food bank and animal shelter. You could even take your kids to the nonprofit so they can see where they are located and how they operate.
7. Give globally.
Finally, you can give globally. One way to do this is to fund a child through Compassion International or a similar organization. Giving to those in other parts of the world gives you an opportunity to talk to your children about issues like global poverty and ways your family can help.
No matter what you decide to do, I hope your family finds some time together this Christmas to experience the joy of sharing with others. And I also sincerely hope that you continue this tradition throughout the year.
Are there other things I didn’t mention above that you and your family like to do together to share in the joy of giving to others? Let me know in the comments section below.