My parents and two siblings (no kids of their own) flood my kids with gifts at the holidays. Although I feel grateful, It feels overwhelming and like too much at times. I know there are children here in my own area who have so little. How do I best support my kids during this time of material abundance… or is it overload?
I agree that it can be challenging to watch your kids receive so much, knowing that others have so little. That said, you are on the right track in feeling grateful yet also being aware that there is a lack of balance here.
Following are a few suggestions. Take what works for you and leave the rest!
- Try requesting that extended family members all chip in to get one larger item that your child really wants or needs. My son wants a desk for his room this year. Multiple family members are chipping in. This allows loved ones to know they are getting the child what he or she wants and sharing the cost.
- Set a clear boundary with family members. Request that they purchase one item for each child and that if they want to give more, they can do so by giving money for the child’s savings account. Gently explain your position and hope that they can see things from your perspective. If not, just breathe and smile. They have good intentions.
- Make room for the new toys and give to others at the same time by holding a toy and clothing overhaul with your kids. They most likely have grown out of some toys and clothes that other kids may really enjoy. (If your child is old enough, you can discuss the power of allowing others to re-use toys and clothing. Not only is it giving others things they need and want, it’s also more sustainable—he or she is sharing resources!)
What does this look like? Sometimes I choose a number, say, ten, and request that the kids donate that many toys. Other times, I don’t need to make the request; they just keep going and going, getting rid of bags full of toys and clothes. Without guilt or shame, explain to your children that there are other kids who don’t have as much who will be so grateful to play with and wear their gently used things.
- As a family, choose your preferred non-profit to make a joint contribution. to If all members of the family, including the kids, are involved, the process is more meaningful.
- Change the focus all together. My husband used to have a job position in which he worked on some holidays. Rather than moping about at home without Daddy, one year, my kids and I served Christmas dinner at a local church. It was a magical day. We spent time handing out meals, cleaning up and talking with those in attendance. The connection time spent with these “strangers” was a powerful experience for all. I am not saying that my kids weren’t excited about getting gifts and that our house wasn’t full of them, but their attention was spread out over the whole experience rather than just on receiving.
Regardless of what you decide to do, always remember that your mindset and what you focus on is most important. Your kiddos will follow your lead, so make it a positive one.