It’s the 18th December and the last blog of 2020. Firstly what a year. Full of ups and downs, sadness and happiness. I think most of us are glad to see the end of 2020 and we hope 2021 brings much more joy and happiness. If anything 2020 has taught us to enjoy the little things in life, the simple ‘free’ things. Spending time with our loved ones, getting back to playing traditional games with our children, a chance to involve those phone mad teenagers and getting a conversation with them, enjoying long walks – not having to work to a time schedule.

We have enjoyed our own little part of the world, our beaches, our views, our towns. We have supported local businesses! After all we need to help our own. Some of us have brought out and developed our creative sides through art, music, design, home improvements, kid’s arts and most of all baking. If you’re anything like me you ate your way through the first half of 2020 … which isn’t too good now with my jeans not fitting as comfortable as they should.

Anyways Christmas 2020 should just be enjoyed by spending time with loved ones. It’s not about what’s under the tree. Or keeping up with our neighbours next door. Or trying to prove yourself on social media. It’s about being happy with who you are and who you are with. I know the past number of weeks I have been clearing out the house, making space for more toys. Whilst doing this I have realised how many toys and books my children actually have and how little they actually play with. I think if we had less would we cherish more of our items? Would we be less wasteful? I also looked in my wardrobe and realised how many clothes I have – and nowhere to wear them, how many shoes – with one set of feet.

This got me thinking about how lucky each and every one of us are. What we must remember this Christmas is about the people who have nothing. No food on the table, relying on local foodbanks, little kids who won’t have a present under the tree. My dad also brought me to normality when I asked him what Santa brought him for Christmas – he replied, an orange and a bag of hard boiled sweets. One year he got a small tractor and trailer and his brother stepped on it and broke by accident. I thought about how cherished that one little toy must have been and the disappointment my dad would have felt.

If you feel you have bought too much for the kids – hide and keep for another year or for their birthdays. A child doesn’t expect mountains of toys. They become overwhelmed. By overwhelming children they start to get emotional, throw tantrums and cry. When your child does this – they aren’t ‘spoiled’ as a parent may think. They just don’t know how to deal with this or act. You must nurture your child and spend some ‘Quality & Special’ time with them (as mentioned in our previous blog).

This is the most important gift you have to give your child. By giving each child 10 minutes you will notice a difference in their attitudes, moods and how they can then play by themselves. I used to make my children play with little figures but I didn’t actually sit with them. After a few minutes of over hearing the game after fighting and arguing I realised they just needed me to show them what and how to play, how to interact. After I took 10 minutes away from generally home duties the girls where much happier and played much better. I then could get on with my work much more content and happy.

If you decide to do anything over the Christmas break – no matter how young or old. Make a ‘Kindness’ chart. Use a plain sheet of white or black paper. Put your child’s or children’s names at the top. If they do something kind for you, or each other or in general let them draw or colour in a star. At the end of the day pick ‘The kindest person’ and reward them with something small be it a sweet, a book, a story … you decide. By the end of the week your chart will be full of bright shining stars. You will see the joy in your child’s face. They will feel on top of the world. If you teach your child anything – teach them to be kind to one another.

Remember to relax and enjoy your Christmas. This will mean more to your children than a tidy house. Also if your small child can come to you about small problems about school or friends they will come to you when they are older with bigger problems. If you take time now to listen to your child and use wording like ‘I understand you are annoyed’, ‘I see you are angry’, ‘oh you look happy today’, and this will open up for conversation with your children and show you are concerned.

Your reaction to your child will open up all sorts of emotions. Obviously we are all human and sometimes your reaction could cause outbreaks with the children. Sometimes we are tired, hungry, just want alone time, but always remember your child doesn’t understand this and needs you to react in a certain way to them when they have had a tough day.

Enjoy your break and keep safe. Lifestart and SOOC will be back in the New Year with more courses and fun for you and your family. The first 5 years of a child’s life is the most important and they need you to help with the type of person they become.  If you are stuck for gift ideas for a friend or family member who has a little one in their life don’t forget our Growing Child is available online.

And finally remember ‘Smile and laughter = happiness!’