Every year, we countdown to Christmas with an advent calendar. Each day the girls open a little door and inside find a treat. This is the third year we have done it and the surprises have evolved from little trinkets to something closer to actual presents.
A few days into the Advent Calendar this month, I was feeling a little uncomfortable with the whole thing. 24 days of presents is just too much for any kid…..especially when the treats were not somehow “earned.” What’s more, Hazel was sort of a handful earlier this week - she wasn’t sharing with her sister and threw a pretty epic bedtime tantrum (oh yeah, we are now in that phase - the bedtime battle stage of development. Fun, I tell you.) With the Advent Calendar, we had inadvertently created a set-up where my toddler expected to open a door a find a gift waiting for her - regardless of her behavior. I didn’t like the message that conveyed.
We didn’t let her open a door that night….and while she was better behaved the next day, she certainly didn’t “earn” two special treats.
We decided to Redirect. (That right there is parenthood in a nutshell, no?). We decided to pull the calendars and replace them replace them with a Sparkle Box.
Have you heard of Sparkle Box? (I hadn’t until recently) The Sparkle Box is based off of a children’s book - and the idea is instead of counting down to Christmas by getting treats or chocolates….you write down acts of kindness and drop it into the box nightly.
Instead of TAKING…you are GIVING.
We implemented the new plan last night and I loved the tone of this exchange. We brainstormed with the girls on their daily act of kindness and Hazel decided to submit “sharing bathtime piglet with Felix when she cried.” Felix can’t yet talk - so volunteered “washing her sister’s tummy” as her good deed. She didn’t object.
This time of year can be tricky for kids, and as a parent it can be hard to balance creating Christmas magic with making sure your little ones are gracious and appreciative of all the generosity that come their way and respectful of the fact that not everyone has things as easy as they do. The Sparkle Box was one idea that spoke to me and I wanted to share it with you all…I’d also love to hear your suggestions for navigating this most wonderful (and at times, materialistic) time of the year with kiddos!
Emily is not only a brilliant blogger, but a brilliant mommy as well.
Clearly she is raising two strong, little humanitarians and raising some eyebrows (in the most positive of ways) among her reader as well.
While I am not a mother yet, nor planning to be one in the near future, one of my biggest fears is to raise ungrateful children. There is something about lessons as sage as this that give me comfort and put many of my premature fears to rest.