This Christmas, my husband and I are scaling back. Our kids WILL NOT have tons of presents under the tree.
We currently have 6 & 4 year old girls, and a sweet baby boy on the way. In Christmases past, our celebrations were typical of most American families. Our children had more presents than they could remember or play with at one time.
What I noticed is that they became less grateful when they got new things.
And embarrassingly, once my mom brought the girls a few gifts on a non holiday. After looking at a book or two, my oldest tossed them to the side and said, “Grammy, what else did you bring me?”
I was absolutely mortified. I never envisioned that I would raise an ungrateful child. At that moment, I realized that I had to do something different. Especially on #GivingTuesday, a day set aside to help others through the gift of your time, donations, goods or your voice.
Here’s how my husband and I are raising grateful children and scaling back this season:
We Realize That It’s Not About Us
I love having daughters. Some days it’s almost like reliving my childhood. Birthdays and other holidays are the perfect opportunity to get them things that I wanted as a child, or would have wanted as a child.
But this can be dangerous. Gifting my children with things that I would want makes the gift giving more about me than them.
We’re Teaching Our Children How to Clean
Do you have any idea how difficult it is to teach kids to clean up after themselves?
Just give them a playroom full of toys (with a million pieces) and see what happens. If this describes your house, then you know exactly what I mean.
If we keep adding more toys & presents on top of ones they already have, it makes it difficult to stay organized and finding a place for new toys feels like an impossible feat.
We Want to Raise Grateful Children
I know I’m guilty of gifting my children with presents all year round. How can they possibly have anything to look forward to, or be grateful for if they never have to earn anything and are always receiving gifts?
I always said that I wanted to raise respectful (non bratty) children, so that means that I have to teach them how to be grateful–and sometimes that means saying no on a day to day basis.
We Want to Teach Them To Give Back
When we teach our kids to give back, the focus immediately shifts from them, to helping others. There are so many ways to give back, especially this holiday season.
As a child, I always participated in Operation Christmas Child. It was a joy to choose a child and fill their shoe box with small gifts.
As an adult, one of my favorite projects that connects directly to my community is picking an angel from the angel tree and providing them with presents on their wish list. In years past, I picked one from my school’s tree. As a school counselor, I loved knowing that my contribution was directly going to a family in my school.
This year, I’m participating in angel tree again, and my family’s contribution will benefit a child in my community–and possibly even my school.
Giving Back Doesn’t Have to Be Just For the Holiday Season
There are so many charities that make themselves accessible during the holidays that people feel compelled to contribute.
But what about during the year?
Many schools participate in the Backpack Buddy program. These programs provide needy families of school aged children with nonperishable snacks & weekend meal items.
Consider making a donation of canned goods & other snacks to a school in your community. You can also supply them with school supplies such as glue, notebooks, pencils,paper, etc.
Is there a food bank in your community? Consider volunteering to help them restock and organize shelves. If you are a club/community service sponsor, this would be a great service project idea for your group.
Is there a local shelter that could use some donations?
This year, consider being a part of something bigger than yourself. November 28th has been dubbed #GivingTuesday. Need more ideas about how to get involved? Click here for 100 Unique Fundraising Ideas.