Christmas brings a feeling of celebration and anticipation for adults and for kids. We are told to focus on the real meaning of Christmas – the birth of Jesus – and of course we should. But that doesn’t mean that we can’t have some fun along the way. Fun as in – dads helping kids have fun. Why dads? Because studies show that dads play with their kids more.
Blogs and magazines tell mothers how we can make the holidays better, but rarely do they tell dads how to. So, I’ll take a stab at it.
First, dads you have a huge influence over the mood in your home. If you are grumpy, tired, and irritable, guess who else will be? Everyone in your home. So do your best to take charge of your schedule and make room for down time. Take time for yourself to relax, but then take some of that time to do things with your kids. Go shopping for their mothers, grandparents or for needy families in your community. Kids love delivering gifts to children who are less fortunate.
Several nights ago, my daughter and son-in-law picked up items at one church and delivered them to another so they could be sold cheaply to those who are less fortunate. For some odd reason, they were told to pick the items up at 9 o’clock at night. They put all three kids in the car and finished the delivery. Afterward, their 10-year-old daughter pleaded with them to go back to the church and do it again. She wouldn’t let up. (I know because I was in the third seat of the car.) When you bring your kids with you while serving others, they learn that giving is important to their dads. Therefore, it should be important to them. Your service makes a huge impact on your kids.
Second, plan some fun that you ordinarily don’t have. It doesn’t have to be long; it just has to be with you and your kids. Make a fort, go for a hike, go skiing, walk in the woods, even make cookies together. Make the ones that you used to eat at Christmas and tell them why they are special to you. Talk about what you did at Christmas when you were young and bring your memories alive for them. If those memories were painful or unhappy, skip it. Tell them those stories are for a different time.
Third, play games. Board games are a lot of fun and there’s something about playing them that brings people together. There may be those who cheat, argue, or brag when they win and that’s OK. It’s still a learning experience that you have together. Look around your house and see what games you already have and make sure that they’re age appropriate. If you don’t have any, go to Target and get a couple. Zingo is a fun game for little kids. For middle schoolers, Jr Monopoly, and for older kids, Code Names are fun as well. If your kids are hesitant to play, make some good food to eat while you’re playing. That will bring them to the table.
Create an advent calendar together. Kids of all ages love advent calendars, particularly when there is a piece of chocolate tucked away for each day. When you are home, talk about advent and why it exists. Ask them if they like waiting or if it’s hard for them. Use the time to talk about the star over Bethlehem and how long it must have taken the wise men and shepherds to walk to the stable. Take them out at night and look up at the sky. Were the shepherds cold? Were they in bare feet? What would it be like to walk at night? Could they follow a star?
There are so many things to talk about during advent. Use this opportunity to bring the whole story of Christmas to life.
When Christmas eve comes, you can read them The Night Before Christmas but then read them to story of Jesus’ birth in Luke’s Gospel. When you bring that night to life, kids will jump into the story.
Dads, enjoy the time you have with your kids this Christmas. They grow up quickly and there may be many years that you won’t see them at Christmas. More importantly, when they are older, they won’t experience your love, comfort, and the fun you have together like they can THIS Christmas.