Do you know anyone who over-commits his/her time and energy? Sure you do. I just have to look in the mirror! Can you remember how we organized our time before we had cell phones, laptops and iPads? Actually, some of you were born after all of these devices became our life organizers! Being busy has become a status symbol. On top of that, your child will be out of school for two weeks and your daily routines are about to change. For some, that also means the added stress of holidays thrown into the mixture. The decorations have been in the stores for months reminding us of all of the things we have to do to create the perfect holiday experiences for family and friends. It is hard to determine what is important. And yet it is important to share traditions that are your childhood roots of adult happiness.
We could write a book about our experiences with our children and holidays. What is expected to be an exciting visit with extended family and might include shopping and gift giving often has unexpected results. Our children often behave out of character and the adults wind up exhausted or suffering from migraines that can last from now until the children return back to school on January 4th. Instead of trying to please everyone – including your children, now is the time to evaluate what worked last year and what you might consider changing. How can you maintain a schedule that is as close to normal as possible? How can you take care of yourself, your family and have fun?
A while ago I read an article written for Wired online, by Jonathan Liu, a self-described stay-at-home dad, Etch-a-Sketch artist, community agitator, board game geek and a voracious reader. Doesn’t he sound like a person you would like to get to know, one that would be fun at a party? He sounds like a great Montessori Dad! Jonathan shared his insights about the five best toys for children knowing that many are of us are on a tight budget. These toys are time tested, and appeal to children within a wide range of ages.
The 5 Best Toys
# 1. A Stick, comes in various sizes, grows on trees, and yes – could poke an eye out
# 2. A Box, comes in a variety of sizes and shapes, can be converted into anything from a playhouse to robots, store or time machine (I’ve been watching Dr. Who!)
#3. String, comes in various textures and lengths, use to hang things, tie things together, Cat’s Cradle, heavier kinds for jumping, climbing, swinging. My son’s favorite was to create “power lines” from every attachable high and low surface in the living room that objects would traverse across and down.
#4. Cardboard Tubes, free with paper towels, wrapping paper, or super sized from a carpet, used as a telescope, binoculars, whacker, although may not hold up to enthusiastic play so you need extras.
#5. Dirt, been around a long time, you have to eat a peck of it before you die, may help build immune systems, great for digging, piling, burying things, mud pies, facials, etc.
To Jonathan’s list I would like to add The Greatest Gift:
#6. Time, most precious, not always free, must be uninterrupted, in the moment, spent genuinely with children.
Children require both quantity and quality time with parents; time when we are not looking at the Internet, talking on the phone or watching TV (although with older children, watching shows together and discussing issues is a great way to stay in touch with one another). Time to stay at home in our PJ’s building forts with blankets over tables and using all the pillows. Time to cook, bake and be silly. Time to walk or ride bikes in the park with no destination in mind. Time to do crazy dress up and dance to oldies – yours and theirs. Time to sing together, play board games, play hide and seek, and create art projects.
After all, the most valuable gift to your child is YOU– your time and undivided attention. Everything else is just the trimmings.
*This post was originally published on December 16, 2015
“Lost, yesterday, somewhere between sunrise and sunset, two golden hours, each set with sixty diamond minutes. No reward is offered, for they are gone forever.”— Horace Mann