We all know that our children mimic our behaviours and look up to us for what is the ‘norm’. Over the last few weeks I’ve heard from many people in my workplace and social circles that they feel like they are in a daze; don’t know when they are going to find time to fit in all the lists of activities that have in mind before Christmas and in general are in a mad rush… but it a rush for what?
It made me wonder about how this is reflecting and showing up in many households during this Christmas time. As we all embark on the last few days before Christmas, one way to divert feelings of overwhelm or a busy mind that is in a mad rush is to take stock and spend some time reflecting and sharing all things that we are grateful for, and include our children in this discussion.
Start with being grateful
The lead up to this Christmas period has given rise to lots of reflection time. The drought season this year has brought to the foreground one of the worst bush fire seasons we have experienced. Whilst those of us that are city dwellers are not exposed to the extreme heat, the danger and the potential loss of homes we have been exposed to reduce air quality. I am therefore grateful for fresh air, for the sunshine when it surfaces through the thick smoke and water. Right now in our beautiful Australian landscape there are so many communities and environments that are struggling to breath fresh air, see the sunshine through the thick cloud of bushfire smoke; our local wildlife have perished, or are injured and are without food and water; and plenty of people have lost homes.
Taking the time to reflect, be present and being grateful can lead us to realising that we may not be able to do much about things we can not control; however we have so much to offer as individuals through our time, energy, love and support to those that are in need.
Being generous can promote good mental health, help us stay focused on what is really important, and bring a sense of balance to our lives.
Extending this to our children, and teaching our children through showing them what generous looks like is a great way to lead by example this Christmas time.
So what does generosity look like?
Whilst It is personal and unique to each of us, there are some simple ways of how you can show generosity in a way that children can appreciate whilst at the same time teaching them the joy of giving to others. Of the many benefits, one simple one to consider is that the act of giving or serving is very therapeutic and grounding during this time of craziness. Here are my top 3 tips:
Embark on a journey of Regifting
This is a great time to spend some time with children deciding on which clothes, toys, shoes and other household items that could be regifted to others. Showing and speaking with children about regifting is a great way to show them how to help other.
One practice in our family life was to encourage children to donate one or two of their new Christmas gifts to the local children hospitals – it is a great way for our children to experience the joy of generosity; and also be gently reminded that not everyone has the same experience in life at Christmas.
Cook up as a family
Involving children in cooking or baking is another activity that can be enjoyed and shared as a family activity. Take some time to prepare some meals or cookies together and mindfully enjoy the activity.
Share with children that some of the food and cookies will be donated to a local homeless shelter or church; or better still take them along when you drop off. This is a great way to connect with your children and show them how to share the love in giving to others.
Support a charity or cause
With so much of our environment affected by the bushfires this season, consider how impactful a donation or sponsorship can be in your household.
Last year we extended our family with our sponsor child. We often speak with our 3 year old daughter about her ‘sister’ who is of similar age and the type of living that she has. This year we are further extending our family with an adoption of one of our favourite wildlife animals as a way of supporting the volunteers that work tirelessly to support affected communities and our broader environment.
Showing our children how to give time, love and money to support all that are less fortunate is on only great for our own ability as adults to take stock and ground ourselves. It also creates an environment for a children, where they can observe and learn from our behaviour.
So I ask you, with less than a week before Christmas, what life values do you want you children to adopt?