I was at a client’s house recently and saw an invitation for her son’s most recent birthday. It asked for donations to their favorite charity instead of birthday gifts.
He already had more than enough toys, and the last thing she wanted was 20-30 more toys cluttering up the playroom.
Especially knowing that many of them would only be played with a few times, if at all.
It was no coincidence that her house also happened to be very much under control and organized, even before I came in to help.
You’ve heard me talk a lot about being proactive versus reactive…
How being proactive about the stuff coming into your home will give you the feeling of control that we all crave.
So…Christmas is here again and this is one of those times where it’s really going to pay off to be proactive beforehand!
You Decide What Happens
I remember one Christmas when I was 8 or 9 years old, all my aunts and uncles got together and decided that they weren’t going to buy presents for everyone else’s kids anymore.
That first year, us kids were like “what the heck is going on”. But by the second year, the new tradition was in place and we hardly even noticed the difference.
This really comes down to an important question to ask yourself this Christmas…
Am I buying gifts for people out of habit, or, worse yet, obligation?
Maybe your habit is to buy a ton of toys for your kids. Sure, you know they already have too many. And if you step on another Lego in bare feet, you might lose it.
But Christmas = Toys… right?
Maybe it has in years past, but one of the most powerful mindsets you can adopt is that ‘what HAS happened doesn’t have to determine what WILL happen’.
How many of last year’s Christmas presents are still in circulation this year?
Most of the parents I work with defeatedly tell me that few, if any, of the toys from last year have seen the light of day since spring!
So, if not toys, then what?
If you’re like me, you love the feeling of giving, especially to kids. It’s cool to be able to do that for them.
Maybe some of your favorite childhood memories are of opening toys on Christmas morning. After all, Christmas truly is the season of nostalgia.
Or maybe you want to (and are in the position to) give your kids the kind of Christmas that your parents couldn’t give you.
Whatever it is, I don’t want to take that away from you! But I think if we work together, we can elevate the experience you give to the people you care about.
Ultimately, you teach your kids what to value through the gifts you give them (and the gifts they see you give other people).
Give them money, they’ll value freedom of choice.
Give them toys or other “stuff” and they’ll value having a lot of stuff.
Give them experiences and they’ll value seeing what the world has to offer.
This is a huge teaching opportunity for you, and it’s lessons like these, repeated year after year that set the tone for how your children see the world.
So before you buy your next gifts, ask yourself,
“What am I trying to accomplish with this? What message am I sending?”
My guess is that you want to show your kids you love them. You want them to feel the magic of Christmas. You want to see them happy.
But there has to be a better way to do this than more doodads for the playroom?
What has your child been wanting to do since forever? What would be an experience that she probably wouldn’t stop talking about for years? What have they been wanting to learn that usually isn’t in the budget? What have you been wanting to do together but haven’t gotten around to yet?
Stuff isn’t always the enemy. Sometimes it can bring people together…
I remember very few of the toys I got on Christmas morning as a child. But I do remember putting together model engines with my Dad.
That made me feel connected to him in a way that a popular new toy never could. It also stoked the kind of “builder/ figure it out” mentality that’s served me really well as a businesswoman.
When you’re buying presents, ask yourself if this is going to bring the family together, or serve some really positive purpose for your child.
That gives you control over this holiday.
You won’t end up spending a fortune on a bunch of toys that only get used a few times before going into the “toy graveyard” we call the playroom closet.
The holidays trigger a lot of stress in people, myself included.
But so much of that stress comes from a feeling that the things you don’t want are inevitable.
You know, things like…
Better get out the stretch pants because I’m gonna be gaining some weight!
Not sure where all these new toys are gonna to go, but the house is already a mess, so whatever.
Here’s Uncle Leon politics at the dinner table again. Why is my family so crazy?
Ok, maybe that last one is out of your hands ;) But everything else is what YOU make it! You decide, every single step of the way.
I see a lot of families that have made these changes, and the difference is dramatic!
If that’s you, then congratulations. If not, then this is your year. Make it happen :)
And that’s my recipe for a peaceful Merry Christmas!