How I am protecting my kids’ hearts this Christmas season

A few years ago I noticed something that really kicked up around the holidays with our girls as they got a little older. The WHINING. So much whining. About every little thing. I also noticed phrases that seemed to be said often such as: “Is that all?” Or…”What are we doing today?”.

Between all the presents and special things they were getting all month and all the special activities, our December was filled with stuff. Stuff to do. Stuff to open. And the talking about stuff constantly. And it turned them into whiney, entitled, not able to create their own play kind of kids which is not how they are normally (well you know, most of the time). 

It was not their fault. Everyone, including us as parents, was so excited to play into the magic of Christmas that they were bombarded with questions about what they WANT and what they were excited to receive.  So much so that their hearts clearly became obsessed with the anticipation of wanting all the things and doing all the things and then they would crash into a whine fest or tantrum because they were overstimulated. Whoops. 

Then there’s the shame you feel as a parent when your kid is being a total butt during a time that is supposed to be magical and you feel miserable from managing it all.  Been there. 

So I’ve been thinking a lot about being intentional on guarding my kids’ hearts and mine this Christmas season so I thought I would share, maybe it will be helpful.

Keep as much routine as possible and not turn the season into a free for all

For us that looks like keeping Fridays nights at home sacred as much as we can which are pizza & movie nights. Making sure Saturday chores still happen so that our house doesn’t become overwhelming and keeping our after school routine consistent and simple. 

Which really only leaves us with Saturday afternoons or nights for something special because we are at Church Sundays. This automatically limits what we can say yes to because there are a million things we can fill our time with.  And that is okay. It is enough for us. 

Don’t over talk about Santa or Wishlists:

We are a Santa believing household so this got out of hand quickly because of our own excitement as parents.  We have talked way too much about gifts and Santa so that it became the sole focus of their excitement and then we got mad at them for being so selfish and only thinking about presents and not Jesus. The irony! 

One Santa visit is plenty but we don’t over ask about what they want or what they hope to GET. Even when it simply just makes us excited to give it to them- again it creates this obsession with wanting and nothing else.  

Family Advent:

Doing some kind of family Advent calendar or ritual is really important for me. Getting our hearts prepared for the Christmas season matters. Celebrating the birth of Jesus matters. We honestly just do a simple bible reading each day and a candle lighting on Sundays.  It also helps that I work for a Church so Sundays are already built in as icing on the cake for this!

Serving Others:

We have really ramped up our serving others this year. Shopping for other kids, volunteering at Feed My Starving Children and sponsoring a family through the food pantry for meals.  It is okay for kids to want things, but I want them to also remember that the season is about GIVING.  However, I cannot expect them to understand it unless I give them the EXPERIENCE of giving.

The Christmas piles

Every family is different, but I have noticed when there are MORE gifts to open there is MORE dissatisfaction.  They become  addicted to the opening and not so much the actual gifts. When they were really little, they would legit get overstimulated and shut down or throw a tantrum. All while other people perceive it as being ungrateful, super fun.

But I also don’t want to set a precedent of huge piles because then that expectation is harder to reverse as they get older.  I care about getting them meaningful things and I want them to learn gratitude as well.  And also- more stuff for me to manage. No thanks.


Trying to make everyone happy is hard, I get it. But you won’t please everyone even when you try to. Christmas was never supposed to be about a calendar filled to the brim with festive events. It is about feeling the magic of the season in the simplest of ways and I feel the magic most when watching my kids sing songs at Church, having special Christmas adventures, being with family or just sitting on the couch with the light of the tree. Figure out what matters to you most this season, build your calendar around it and let the rest fall away.

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