We all have seen it on social media, those high gloss pictures of beautifully baked and decorated Christmas cookies presented cheerfully by smiling kids.
Enviable, but not quite the reality at casa Boons.
No mum will ever take a picture of a kid during a full sized tantrum and post it online to share as a memory.
In my case I would rather be occupied onsaving the sparkles before the kitchen floor glitters more than our Christmas tree, for the 3rd time in a row.
No, this would not fit into the memory I had in mind to create for my children, nor was it the kind of picture I intented to post.
I am a mum perfectionist. When I start an activity I already have the results in mind: How the cookies have to look and smell, what music we would listen to and what Christmas sweater we will be wearing.
My goal: Creating THE BEST holiday memory for my kids, that they will look back to and say, that is best part of Christmas. This is a pretty big challenge set to myself, I can guarantee you with toddlers around mindset and reality are two entirely different things.A recipie for disaster and failure.
WARNING: Tantrums are like brewing a soup that boils over. Take a tiring toddler that is hungry and wants that cookie right now, Add too many no`s and restrictions, spice it up with too many rules and high expectations…unstoppable tantrum in the making.
To not feel like a complete failure here a few ideas on how to simplify Christmas activities with your toddler and how to create a happy and joyful Christmas memory that one actually likes to repeat year after year:
- K.I.S.S.- keep it super simple. -The kids are happy to spend time with you. Be present, be in the moment. -Take all the time it needs for the planned activity, No interruptions, No stress. - Kids have a small attention span. Concentrating for long time is exhausting them quickly. Split activity into half e.g. bake in the morning and decorate in the afternoon. -Mami will need a ton of patience for this activity. If you don’t feel like it don’t do it. -Kids learn by imitating us. They sense when we are anxious or stressed. Now, guess what happens when we get too worried about the details, the kids will mirror our emotions. Stress over a Christmas cookie?! Take a deep breath, let go off the design and follow the lead of your kiddo. - Focus on the positive: appraise your kids work ,tell them they are doing good, acknowledge their effort or learning ability and patience. Use positive reinforcement opposed to point out what they do wrong. -Offer help. If the kid accepts you can do shared effort and show them how to improve. Some kids rather create their own patterns opposed to use a stencil. That is ok. -Gently suggest ideas but let the kid have the lead. We don’t need perfectly shaped cookies its not a contest. - Be prepared that this is considered messy play. Let the kids explore. They want to know what the dough feels, looks, smells and tastes like. It is part of the activity. -Less options are more fun. No need to have 10 different colours of chocolate sprinkles and decoration options, kids are overhelmed easily. No rules, each cookie is beautiful. Don’t forget the more they eat beforehand the lesser you have to decorate after. -Don’t bother about the next meal, cookies are a perfect meal for that day. We all licked the beater, when we were kids and ate oven warm cookies, best taste ever! There you have it, your Christmas memory in the making. -I find it hard to see my kitchen disappear in grease and sparkles. Calculate time afterwards to deep clean the kitchen, those sparkles are hard to get out of every corner especially if kids shake the bottle with no lid on. I let them watch the story of the gingerbread mean meanwhile in hope they get inspiration on how to decorate our gingerbread cookie. -Personally, baking is not my strength. I can´t keep up with all these different measure units and various names for very same ingredient in other countries. And then those cookies appearing still raw after suggested baking time so one puts them back and bakes and bakes until they are rockhard. In that case it is perfectly fine to buy the dough. Less stress for me not failing at the task of a simple cookie. Buy the cookies and decorate them, the kids don’t care, they will never say :” Hey mom remember all those years you bought the cookies, cause you can´t bake?! – Or so I hope!
In that sense! Ho, ho , ho Merry Christmas enjoy the holydays!
PS For those that don’t know me I love sarcasm and irony, please don’t take it word for word some is exaggerated to make a point!