An Uncomplicated Holiday: Three Most Important Things

makealist1 Photo by BLW Photography

Yesterday, we began a conversation about whether or not it is feasible to enjoy an uncomplicated holiday season. If you haven’t already, make sure to read through (and add to!) the comments. There are some great insights from the SK community there.

Throughout December, I want to continue this conversation so that as a community, we can come together and inspire and encourage one another in the pursuit of simple, meaningful celebrations.

I think one of the most challenging aspects of the holiday season is that if we aren’t careful, we can become oppressed by the tyranny of choices offered to our families. Holiday parties and cookie exchanges and Christmas caroling excursions can all be lots of fun and provide for many fond memories.  Yet families who are committed to intentional participation in the holiday season have to be thoughtful in choosing what to say yes to as the invitations begin to roll in.

In writing about her Home Management Notebook at Simple Mom, Tsh underscores the importance of choosing three Most Important Tasks for each day.  Let’s borrow from that idea to create a list of Most Important Things for the Holiday Season 2009.

In describing the MITs for the day, Tsh notes that “if nothing else gets done, I’d say my day was a success if those three things happen.”  We can apply that concept to our Most Important Things for the holidays.  How would you go about creating your Holiday MITs?  Here are some thoughts to begin:

1) Carve out some time with your spouse or partner to discuss what is essential for your family. If you have older children, you may consider inviting them to this discussion as well.  Over mugs of hot cocoa or spiced cider, draw up a list of everything to which you have been invited and everything that you think might be fun to do.

2) Ask the question, if we can only get to three things on this list, what would be most meaningful for our family?

3) Stay flexible and open to all perspectives as you negotiate and decide on the three MITs for the season. Remember, just because an activity or idea didn’t make the MIT list doesn’t mean it won’t get done!  The goal here is to identify the three things which take priority for your family’s time and energy this year.

Here we are at December 1st, so the sooner your family can create the holiday MIT list, the more clarity you will have as you consider your calendar for this month.  I would invite you to work up your list and come back to share it with others here in the comments.

My own family’s MIT list for Christmas 2009 is

1) Create a Jesse Tree.
2) Spend one evening driving through our community’s Christmas light display.
3) Spend Christmas Eve and Christmas Morning in our own home.

What are the three Most Important Things for your family this year?

An Uncomplicated Holiday: Mission Impossible?

gift Photo by kevindooley

I don’t know about you, but my mailbox and email inbox are both quickly filling up with sale ads, catalogs, and invitations to buy more! more! more!

As you know, our mission at Simple Kids is to celebrate, promote, and encourage an uncomplicated approach to raising children.  Though I am a passionate advocate for a simple, slowed-down parenting philosophy, I find that as we enter into the holiday season, my vision for simplicity becomes blurred.

As we experience this month together, I hope to share inspiring thoughts and practical applications on how to create an intentional holiday season as a family. As always, I would love to share the collective wisdom of this amazing community.

Would you be willing to share your thoughts with me on this topic today?

  • Is your family’s approach to the holiday season more simple or more elaborate?  Does this depart from or complement your family’s status quo?
  • What are some practical steps you have taken in the past to create an intentional holiday experience for your family?  What do you hope to do this year to create holiday harmony?
  • When it comes to gift-giving, how do you know when enough is enough?

I look forward to hearing your thoughts!

From the Archives: Bathtime Meditations

Today I’m revisiting the Simple Kids archives to share one of the first articles I wrote after taking over Simple Kids last spring.  We have added so many new readers to our community since that time!  Now that the summer season has drawn to a close and many families have settled into familiar rhythms and routines, I thought it would be timely to revisit a universal aspect of parenting: bathtime.

bathtubfunphoto courtesy of Ernst Moeksis

Bathtime is an important part of our evening ritual. For both of my daughters, time in the tub signals the end of the day, and they know the pouring and splashing and washing and rinsing will soon give way to pajamas, storytime, and lights out.

Now that my girls are older, I bathe them together every night.  This works nicely for me because they love to play together in the tub, and I find I can bring a magazine, book, or my daily docket for the following day to keep me occupied as I sit closeby to supervise the bathtime play.  While this does offer some much-needed wind-down time for me, it occurred to me a few weeks ago that bathing the girls could also provide me with just a few minutes to be mindful in my end-of-the-day connection with my girls.

What does a bathtime meditation look like?  Here are three ideas to get you started:

1. Prayer

As I bathe each daughter, I might say a simple prayer like, “Thank you, God, for these sweet little feet.  May they carry her to exciting places to do life-changing things someday,” or “What a blessing this chubby cheeks are to me.  May her smile be an encouragement to everyone she encounters.”

Even if you aren’t a participant in organized religion, you might think of ways to speak positive thoughts over your children as you spend a few mindful minutes bathing them.

2. Gratitude

Whether your child is six weeks or six years old, I think it is important to model gratitude.  You might say something like, “I’m so thankful we got to go to the library today!  We have so many new books to read!” or “I am so thankful for the visit from Grandma and Grandpa.  They love you so much.”

As your children get older, encourage them to offer their own words of gratitude and appreciate for the day.  The things my four year old comes up with to be thankful for always bring a smile to me.

3. Affirmation

This is particularly important to me at the end of the of a day that has been filled with more tears than giggles and more correction than encouragement.  My oldest daughter went through a phase where one hundred was absolutely the biggest thing she could imagine, so I might say something like, “You know, I love you ONE HUNDRED!”  Or I might tell my toddler, “Even if you marked on every wall in every house on every street, I would still love you so very, very much.”

Sometimes we get silly and say things like, “I’d love you even if your elbows looked like your knees and you had horsey breath!” and “If your hair looked like a rainbow and your nose looked like a blueberry, you’d be my most favorite rainbow-haired, blueberry-nosed person in the whole world!”

Now certainly, there are evenings when I really do just lose myself in the glossy, perfectly put-together pages of Real Simple or enjoy a few precious minutes with pen and paper and no one trying to grab them from my hands.  But every now and again, I pause and remember to turn the time spent kneeling beside the tub into a mindful, intentional, reflective celebration of my daughters and our day.

What makes bathtime special for you and your children?

Bathtime Meditations

bathtubfun1

Bathtime is an important part of our evening ritual.  For both of my daughters, time in the tub signals the end of the day, and they know the pouring and splashing and washing and rinsing will soon give way to pajamas, storytime, and lights out.

Now that my girls are older, I bathe them together every night.  This works nicely for me because they love to play together in the tub, and I find I can bring a magazine, book, or my daily docket for the following day to keep me occupied as I sit closeby to supervise the bathtime play.  While this does offer some much-needed wind-down time for me, it occurred to me a few weeks ago that bathing the girls could also provide me with just a few minutes to be mindful in my end-of-the-day connection with my girls

What does a bathtime meditation look like?  Here are three ideas to get you started:

1. Prayer
As I bathe each daughter, I might say a simple prayer like, “Thank you, God, for these sweet little feet.  May they carry her to exciting places to do life-changing things someday,” or “What a blessing this chubby cheeks are to me.  May her smile be an encouragement to everyone she encounters.”

Even if you aren’t a participant in organized religion, you might think of ways to speak positive thoughts over your children as you spend a few mindful minutes bathing them.

2. Gratitude
Whether your child is six weeks or six years old, I think it is important to model gratitude.  You might say something like, “I’m so thankful we got to go to the library today!  We have so many new books to read!” or “I am so thankful for the visit from Grandma and Grandpa.  They love you so much.”

As your children get older, encourage them to offer their own words of gratitude and appreciate for the day.  The things my four year old comes up with to be thankful for always bring a smile to me.

3. Affirmation
This is particularly important to me at the end of the of a day that has been filled with more tears than giggles and more correction than encouragement.  My oldest daughter when through a phase where one hundred was absolutely the biggest thing she could imagine, so I might say something like, “You know, I love you ONE HUNDRED!”  Or I might tell my toddler, “Even if you marked on every wall in every house on every street, I would still love you so very, very much.”

Sometimes we get silly and say things like, “I’d love you even if your elbows looked like your knees and you had horsey breath!” and “If your hair looked like a rainbow and your nose looked like a blueberry, you’d be my most favorite rainbow-haired, blueberry-nosed person in the whole world!”

Now certainly, there are evenings when I really do just lose myself in the glossy, perfectly put-together pages of Martha Stewart Living or enjoy a few precious minutes with pen and paper and no one trying to grab them from my hands.  And yet some evenings, it really works for me to turn the time spent kneeling beside the tub into a mindful, intentional, reflective celebration of my daughters and our day.

(PS – Our email subscription link has been fixed!  Those who were not able to subscribe via email last week, please try again today.)

photo courtesy of Ernst Moeksis