One of the things that I see single parents and stepfamilies (and other families) do at the holiday times is stress about how much they can spend on the kids.
Worse, they feel soooo bad about not having enough money to buy all the things their kids want. In order to prepare their kids to go without the latest iPad, Xbox or coveted toy, they tell them “We aren’t going to have a big Christmas this year” or “We don’t have a lot of money for Christmas.”
That is the one thing you NEVER want to tell your children at holidays. “What do you mean?” you might be saying “Shouldn’t I prepare them for not getting what they want?!” To that, I say “Nope!”
When you say things like that, you are creating SCARCITY as part of your holidays. And nothing could be further from the truth. Holidays are about being together, sharing memories, and giving, as well as receiving.
What do you do or say instead? Follow this advice:
1. Just listen
When your kids start listing off what they want, let them. Marvel at all the wonderful things there are in the world to want when you are a kid, instead of feeling guilty that you aren’t giving them everything. (Even Santa Claus doesn’t give kids everything they want.)
2. Say “It’s so fun to think about all that stuff, isn’t it?
“I wish a magic fairy would just send it all to you right now.” If they remark back, “What about Santa Claus?” You can say, “Santa Claus has to remember all the children of the world, and I know he will remember you.”
3. Make sure everyone is evenly gifted among the kids
Biological kids and stepkids should be treated fairly by you. Also make sure that grandparents and other family members know how to do that too.
4. Teach your children to focus on others, not just themselves
Christmas isn’t just about getting; it is also about giving. You and your kids can go to the grocery store, buy some canned food, and donate it to the food bank. Or have your kids clean out their closets before Christmas, and take the clothes and toys they’ve outgrown to the Salvation Army, Goodwill or Homeless shelter. Do a fun run for a good cause. Have each kid pick out an inexpensive toy to donate as well.
5. Don’t compete with your ex in the gift-giving department
You are enough. And when your kids talk about all the gifts they got from their other parent, just ooh and aah. Your kids may not remember what they got from the other parent in 10 years, but they will remember a mean comment by you, so just bite your tongue.
So drop the guilt, squelch the urge to spend money you shouldn’t on that really expensive doll or electronic toy, and give your children what they will actually remember year after year after year. You and holidays rich and full with memories of traditions, love and thoughtfulness.