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Replacing Holiday Hassles with Family Fun Tassels...
The holidays are characterized as a time for family, fun, and festivities, but rarely do we combine all three. Often times we fail to enjoy the holidays with our families due to travel, busy schedules, and other holiday stressors. Instead of merely "getting through" the holidays, wouldn't it be nice to actually enjoy them? Here are some helpful tips for enjoying your family during the holidays.
 
"Floor Time"
 
This is when you as a parent set aside 15-30 minutes of your day to march to the beat of your child's drummer. You follow his lead. Depending on the age of the child, you may actually get on the floor with him and play. You follow his direction in the play with minimal discipline, redirection, or correction. If the child wants you to play the bad guy, you play the bad guy! If the young daughter wants the father to join in imaginary tea, you put on your Sunday best! This shows the children that you are open and accepting of who they are. During play, children explore their world and their emotions and having a loving parent in close proximity will help them grow and help you see them for the unique people that they are.
                
If your child is older you may have to adjust the principle of "floor time", but the main idea remains the same. You follow your child's lead. Sitting and watching TV or movies is not preferable, but if it is all you can get from them let them choose the show and have them explain to you what is going on. If they have other interests join them in that. If they angrily tell you that they don't want you around them, ask them to share why in a calm and accepting manner and explain why you want to spend time with them. It may hurt to hear these things from your children, but at least they are opening up to you and this may lead to an open and honest conversation. Always remember to try to discipline behavior and not emotions. Hearing these things from your child may help you become a better parent in the end.
Fun Family Activities
 
The Festival of Lights
 
Nothing is more significant to the Hanukkah celebration than the lighting of the Menorah each year during the festivities. Your older children can help with the lighting of the Menorah, but your younger children can create their own paper plate Menorah using instructions from Chanukah Crafts at http://crafts.kaboose.com/paper-plate-menorah.html.
 
A Family Tree
 
To transform this year's Christmas tree into your own family scrapbook, we recommend photocopying pictures and framing them with homemade trims. Pull out the photo album and get everyone involved! Each family can pick out their favorite family photos to glam up with some thoughtful frames and hang from this year's family tree. And once Christmas day has come and gone, you can include the photocopied family photos in an actual scrapbook to look back through the following year.
 
The Season of Lights
 
In the midst of the darker winter days and the added stress and craziness from the holiday season, observing the winter solstice (December 22) -- the shortest day and longest night of the year -- can provide a much-needed moment to slow down and celebrate the light in our lives. Plan a family candle-lit dinner, stargaze in the backyard or create your own Holiday Lanterns to line your porch, sidewalks or front steps with their lovely glowing light. These decorative paper bags are traditionally filled with sand and a small candle. If you need help creating the lanterns, you may check out The Crafty Cow website at http://www.thecraftycrow.net/winter_solstice-1/.
 
Holiday Reading
 
Catch up on your holiday classics each night with the family until Santa finally makes his annual journey down the chimney. Take a trip to the library and gather up all of your Christmas favorites or save these timeless tales in a special place, specifically for the holiday season. We can already see you cozying up as a family to read "How the Grinch Stole Christmas!" the popular tween/teen novel "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever" or, "The Night before Christmas." If your children are just learning how to read, let them kick-off your Christmas family read-a-thon, but make sure that everyone has a turn throughout the month to pick the book of their choice and a chance to read aloud!
 
Gratitude Tree
 
Head out in the backyard with your little ones to find the perfect branch for a tree that will show your appreciation all season. Write down your messages of gratitude to hang from the branches and design the ornaments to your liking. And if you have young children, no worries! Simply let them draw, color or paint what they are grateful for this year.
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