Because family time can often cause some stress!
Even if you love your parents or in-laws, the thought of spending Christmas with them may be causing you some alarm. You know that they mean well, but they can’t help pampering their grandchildren. To add to that is the never-ending stream of festive candies, jet lag (if you’ve travelled), the cramped space (if your family is visiting HK) and the late nights. Before you know it you may be dealing with overtired children, oversensitive parents, exhausted partners, hurt feelings and more.
How can you make this Christmas a peaceful and pleasant one for everyone in the family? We’ve put together some handy tips as our holiday gift to you. You’re welcome, mamas!
Let’s start with the biggie! Through the year, you may have carefully instilled values of saving, generosity and charity and you may see that disappear in a flash as grandparents look to give the one gift that will earn them instant creds and long Skype calls for the whole year. Conversely, your teen may not want to put in any thought or effort into the present for a much younger cousin or a not-so-favourite aunt.
It’s time that you circulate a little memo about the hierarchy of gift giving amongst your family members. Encourage everyone in the family to gift shared experiences and spend time together, rather than anything material. If you do want to give something physical, try to upcycle toys and household items (a fun DIY project for the kids), buy second-hand or make things yourself. If that’s not possible, encourage buying small, useful and long-lasting gifts rather than giving in to what might be a passing fad.
Read more: Sassy Mama Christmas Gift Guides 2019
Ideas for experiences and time together
The key to spending holidays together as a family is to spend time together and have special shared experiences. And yet, at the same time, it is important to give each generation (grandparents/parents/kids) their own “time off” and while some of this can involve the whole family, it can be done in smaller groups as well.
- Spend some time with your partner and leave the kids with the grandparents. Not without leaving them a fun task to complete though! Ask your kids to make a scrapbook with the life story of each grandparent. It’s a great bonding activity and helps the grandparents relive their lives. The kids get to know their roots and at the end of it, you have a lovely gift for the grandparents.
- Similarly, use cooking and baking together as a shared experience. Each day’s menu can be suggested by one person. It’s a good way to learn traditional family recipes as well.
- Take the children out grocery shopping, whether you’re here in Hong Kong or staying with family in your home town. It’s always great for them to see what fruits and vegetables are available locally. Depending on how old they are, you can involve them in menu planning, budget discussions and researching recipes online. It’s an easy and effective way to get them interested in food.
- Play games together. Charades, Pictionary, Monopoly, Scrabble etc. are always family favourites. You can also get children to change the rules and have the family play it as per their new (and hopefully, improved!) rules.
- Keep the TV on but connected to your Google photos on random selection mode so that it keeps showing pictures from different times in your life. These are fun to watch and also start amazing nostalgic conversations and reignite bonds.
- Gift experiences like spa treatments, musical shows, theme park tickets etc. to those who will most appreciate it. Your mum may never treat herself to a manicure, but will love it coming from her daughter or grandkids.
Read more: 50 Things To Do With Kids In Hong Kong
How to reduce waste and clutter
This one is particularly important when you’re all living under the same roof or close by. Mindless wastage and a messy house can agitate the mind and it’s important to instil a sense of organisation in your young ones.
- As a rule, only small portions of food should be served. Let everyone take seconds if they want more. Get your little ones excited about making a cake with the leftovers for a pet or dogs in shelters.
- Collect gift wrappers that you can easily reuse and discuss how to reduce, reuse and recycle.
- Teach your kids to organise their own clothes. Make a game of it, if necessary, with points for folding and putting away clothes, hitting the bullseye by throwing dirty clothes perfectly into the laundry basket etc.
- Assign age-appropriate household chores to your children and all your nieces and nephews around. This helps keep the house neat and tidy and take a load off the host. Just as you have seen in classrooms and public washrooms, keep a clipboard with duties assigned and get them to tick it off as they complete a task.
Dealing with tiredness and tantrums
When we live away from home, travelling long distances over the holidays is inevitable. Coming right after a tough school term or difficult work period can make it feel more like a chore than a much-desired break. Jet lag aside, there can be tantrums because children may be going through a difficult phase (teenage hormones), can be overstimulated and then in turn, overtired, while yet others may have special needs. Here are some tips to deal with this.
- Make a dark tent for kids to crawl into for a snooze help with the jet lag.
- Quiet time should be strictly followed for at least an hour in the afternoon.
- Before the holiday season, have a serious discussion with the children about acceptable behaviour and “trouble zones”. Along with them, set what the consequences will be if they (or you) breach these limits.
- Long walks (either alone or with the family) are highly recommended.
- If you have a child with special needs, be matter of fact about the difference and the requirements your child has. Without being defensive, embarrassed or apologetic, talk about your child being differently-abled.
- Don’t forget to take a quiet ten minutes for a cuppa every time you need it!