Earlier this month I was asked to speak at our local MOPS group about Christmas with young children. While I was praying about what to say, two words came to mind: Purposeful and Intentional.
Being Purposeful and Intentional During the Christmas Season
There’s a lot vying for our attention during the holiday season. It’s so easy to be distracted and busy doing a lot of activities, events and Christmas-y things and all we manage to accomplish is getting tired out, stressed out, and burned out. That’s not how we’re suppose to live. That’s not the message we want our kids nor others around us to get from us regarding the holidays.
So what about having a purposeful Christmas season instead. To use the celebrations, the decorations, the music, the festivities of this time of year as a springboard for sharing Jesus with our children. For making deliberate choices on how your family spends their time, how your family chooses to celebrate, and the freedom to say yes to certain activities and no to others. To have a peace and calmness in the middle of the seasonal chaos that is so noticeable that others wonder how you’ve achieved it?
Mom, it starts with us. We set the tone and the pace for our families.
Be purposeful on what you put on your calendar.
Does it deepen family relationships? Does it charge or deplete my energy or the energy of any of my family members? Am I saying yes just because it is expected or is it because it is something I want to include in our family celebration?
First, know what season you are in right now.
There were seasons where I was pregnant, nursing or just not sleeping well at all. I was doing all I could to care for my little ones without having to add in any extra expectations such as hosting events, being the party planner, or the holiday interior decorator. Instead I developed a few simple family Christmas traditions that were manageable for me and my family.
But then there were seasons where I was feeling up to doing more. The children weren’t so dependent on me, we were sleeping better and were able to handle more things that strayed from our normal routines. But for the most part we still stuck to our simple Christmas traditions.
And then there are seasons when you get to sit back and watch your family start to carry on your traditions. Last year my teens all did a little craft with the younger children. The younger children also were in charge of setting up our Christmas tree. All I had to do was supervise and manage here and there.
Have realistic expectations of what you and your family can handle during this Christmas season.
Ask the Lord to show you what to say yes to and what to say no to. Give yourself grace. Get rid of any unrealistic expectation of how an event or activity should look like or even what celebrating Christmas should look like. You are not failing if you don’t create a magical, Pinterest-y Christmas for your children. With social media streaming 24/7 showing us snippets of “life”, it’s easy to compare ourselves with others. Don’t. I know easier said than done, but don’t. And maybe you’re pretty good at not comparing yourself with others, but struggle with comparing what you are doing with your own ideal expectations of what the holidays should look like. This too, leads to discontentment.
Second, know your personality and the personalities of your children to help determine what would be good to incorporate and what would be best left out. If you are an introvert and schedule multiple large group gatherings in a month– you need to be aware that you must schedule time to recharge. That goes for your children too.
If you are an extrovert and get charged up seeing people and being out– be sure to schedule some of those fun events into your month. Parties, events, seeing family that you don’t see often— can be a powerful way to deepen relationships and build memories.
Be intentional with your traditions.
Think about your childhood. What Christmas traditions did you have in your family? For me, we always celebrated Christmas with my mom’s side of the family on Christmas Eve and then had my dad’s side of the family come over on Christmas day.
Once we all started growing our own families— those traditions had to be changed as we made new ones with our immediate families.
So traditions don’t have to be big– they can be small— and traditions differ from routines and habits because they are done with a specific purpose in mind and require thought and intentional – Brett McKay
- provide a sense of security
- teach values
- create memories
- pass on cultural and religious heritage
- strengthen family bonds.
So some of my tips are:
- Keep traditions simple. Think about doing it over and over again, year after year. If it seems doable over the long-run, then implement it. If it causes any hint of stress when thinking about it, rethink keeping that tradition.
- Traditions can be retired. There is a point where you have to decide if you’re doing it just because that is how it has always been done, or if it is something that is building relationships, focusing on what’s important, and doable for everyone. If you need to retire some extended family traditions, communicate with love. Don’t become so attached to a tradition that you loose a relationship.
Intentionally look for opportunities to share Jesus with your children during the Christmas season.
Use all the hustle and bustle, decorations, and symbols to start conversations with your children. So this is the part where I’m going to share some of what we’ve used in our family over the years.
- Christmas decorations
I’ve chosen to keep decorations simple just because that is not my forte! 🙂 My children actually set up our pre-lit Christmas tree and put up the ornaments and then they also spend time during the month making various paper ornaments to decorate the tree. Our tree is never Pinterest-worthy –lol but it is meaningful to them!
We like to think of decorating for Christmas as decorating for Jesus’s birthday. We love to have Christmas lights and switch out some of our décor. It makes it feel special—we’re preparing to celebrate Jesus.
One of the decorations we always incorporate are paper chains. 1. They are super simple and cheap to make. 2. They can help keep us on track with our advent activities.
- Play Christmas music
We love to listen to Christmas music during our day. I also try to teach them one or two hymns.
Silent night, holy night!
Shepherds quake at the sight
Glories stream from heaven afar
Heavenly hosts sing “Alleluia”!
Christ, the Savior is born
Christ, the Savior is born
- Christmas books
This is the one thing that has lasted through the years and has enabled me to have memories with my children and great conversations!
- Truth in the Tinsel
This is an advent experience written for preschoolers. We’ve done parts of it for the last 5 years!
Whatever you choose to incorporate for advent, make it work for your family. Yes, it will take some persistence to do an advent activity/reading every day. But it’s also ok if you need to read 5 entries in one sitting— or modify it.
So moms, be purposeful and intentional. Have a peaceful and joyful Christmas season!