Holidays

Two Moms, One Question: What About Santa?

With both moms here at Raise A Mother having young toddlers, this holiday season begs the questions: to Santa or not to Santa? How much to Santa? And what about when it’s time to stop Santa-ing?

LINDSAY:

I may be the more cynical of the two of us, but I’m struggling with the whole concept of Santa. I recently went out with a group of mom friends whose eldest kiddos are 2-year-olds, like A, and when we talked about it, it seemed to me that almost everyone in the group had some reservations about this aspect of Christmas. Asking other moms I know since then has revealed the same issues. Whether it’s a major or hardly-there concern, and whether it’s about putting too much focus on getting presents, feeling pressure to buy more presents than you otherwise would, being creeped out by the Big Brother he-sees-you-when-you’re-sleeping connotations, or worries about ‘lying’ to your kids and how you’ll address that when they inevitably find out – almost every mom I’ve talked to acknowledges some weirdness about it. However, the overwhelming conclusion seems to be that as uncomfortable as those issues are, most of us plan to do Santa in some shape or form, since we don’t want our kids to be left out.

So my first question this Christmas is: are the majority of new parents out there today initiating Santa with their kids not because they really really want to, but because it’s just what we do collectively

This is where I’m struggling, because I can’t think of other areas of life where I’m trying to create the illusion for my kids that a fantasy is real. And don’t get me wrong, I really like many aspects of Santa, like his qualities of generosity, jollity, and cheer. I love putting out the cookies the night before and hanging stockings. Not to mention that the general ability to believe in magic that most of us lose with growing up seems so precious in kids. But I’m still challenged by the idea of deliberately engaging my kid with a fantasy story as if it’s realWhen we read a book about talking engines or dragons, I don’t feel a need to stop and say, “Just so you know, this isn’t real.” But I’m also not going out of my way to create dragon-sightings or doing ventriloquism with his toy trains to try to migrate those stories into his real life. It’s a puzzle to me, so I’d love to hear from some other moms in the village on how you resolve this!

 

SHANNON:

I guess I’ll start by answering the question Lindsay posed in her response: No, I’m not just planning on doing Santa with my kids because I don’t want them to feel left out. I’m planning on Santa-ing because I have very fond memories of believing in Santa as a young child, and because I like the sense of excitement, joy and magic that he brings to the season for kids.

I guess I don’t struggle as much with the idea of Santa. My childhood self wasn’t scarred or even hurt when I found out that Santa wasn’t real. I didn’t feel betrayed. I understood that my parents and the adults around me had created a fun, pretend time for us. To me, it didn’t feel very different than when my Mom would commit to some other form of imaginative play and then the game would eventually end. My Mom never felt the need to point out that we couldn’t really turn into mermaids. On some level, even as a very young child, I already knew that. But that didn’t stop me from wishing ardently on countless stars that I would someday sprout a fish tail. That’s what kids do. They believe in magic – whether it’s magic presented to them by others or magic fostered in their own imaginations. 

I remember feeling disappointed that Santa wasn’t real, but also that I already kind of knew. Because kids generally do figure this out on their own. And with Santa, as with many things in parenting, I want to meet my kids where they are, to let them take the lead. Once they start expressing their own doubts, I like to think I’ll take that cue as a sign that they’re ready to learn the truth without feeling shocked or blindsided.

It is absolutely important to me to teach my children that giving is more important than getting, and to set reasonable limits on spending. These things are true every day of the year, not just around Christmas. I think when you are modelling and talking about these kinds of lessons throughout the year, children expect them at the holidays too. Like virtually everything else in parenting, I think you make the holidays work in the way that works best for your family – not the other way around. So, Mamas, how do you make them work for you?

 

santaornot

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GUEST POST: An Elf I WANT My Kids to Emulate

We’re absolutely thrilled to have Caitlin Murphy writing her first guest post for Raise a Mother. She is a dear childhood friend of Lindsay and Shannon, and someone we both admired as a parent before either of us had kids of our own. Caitlin is an imperfect perfectionist, empath, and mama to three wonderful wildings – with another on the way! She has a passion for working with children and families, reading, and writing, and lives with her family and husband, John, in London, Ontario, Canada.

I love Christmas. There’s something about the holiday season that makes me feel like a kid again… and now, as a parent, I get to witness that magic through the eyes of my little ones! My family always had a lot of treasured Christmas traditions, and now that I have a family of my own, we’ve carried them on with the new generation. Decorating the house while listening to Christmas carols, making a gingerbread house while listening to Christmas carols, baking delicious treats while listening to Christmas carols (there might be a common theme here…) – the list goes on! But mostly, I associate the holidays with spending time with family and friends, and a general feeling of spreading kindness and the “Christmas spirit.” I wanted to share those same sentiments with my kids – to teach them that the meaning of Christmas goes beyond presents, treats, and holiday sweaters.

A few years ago, when my oldest was a toddler, the Elf on the Shelf became “a thing”. My mom bought one for us as a gift, and without giving it a lot of thought, we followed the basic premise: the elf arrived at the house to keep an eye on things until Christmas Eve, we gave him a name (“Spat” – thanks 2-year-old!), and every day he was in a new funny place for the kids to find (if I remembered to move him, of course!). It’s a cute idea, but parts of it didn’t quite sit right with me… the idea of this little dude reporting to Santa about my kids’ behaviour seems…. A little Big Brother to me. Also, some of the elf antics I’ve seen posted on Facebook or copious Pinterest posts are pretty mischievous or naughty… not really behaviour I want to encourage. As much as possible, I try to practice positive parenting, and my mom (a former child psychologist) has always said one of the best ways to encourage positive behaviour in kids is to “catch them being good.” So we decided to shake things up a little with our elf!
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GUEST POST: Halloween Cookie Project For Kids

This month’s guest post comes from Kimberly Chapman, a competitive cake decorator who teaches beginner/kid friendly classes in the US and UK.  She is a multiple prize winner at various international shows, including first-place awards. She’s known for her dynamic and detailed figure work, as well as pushing the boundaries of standard techniques to the point that the Austin show created an Innovator Award, of which she was the first and only multiple winner.  She blogs her edible media experiments at Eat the Evidence. in between other crafts, authoring feminist romance novels, community volunteering, and being a mom to a preschooler and a preteen.  She had to tell her preschooler to “Stop that!” three times during the writing of this bio and expects to be fetching the first aid kit any minute now. We’re very excited to have such an accomplished kitchen whiz share her skills with us at Raise A Mother. For more fun ideas, check out her site!

Hi, I’m Kimberly from Eat the Evidence,and I specialize in coming up with wacky cake and cookie projects for kids and decorating beginners. One of my most popular tutorials is how to make your own fake, edible, chocolate-flavoured blood for Halloween treats, so for a collaboration with Raise A Mother, I’m very excited to my bring my 3D filled cookie techniques to a whole new audience.

On Eat the Evidence, I often use a special pan covered with semi-spheres to make dome-shaped cookies that can be filled with candy, the fake blood, or other fillings.  But I know not everyone has access to or interest in buying such a device.  So for this article, I’m going to show you how to use basic kitchen tools to still be able to create filled cookies, explaining everything at a beginner-friendly level with lots of options so you can create with confidence.

Let’s make some filled 3D tombstone cookies!
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Why It’s Important to Travel With My Kids

Traveling with kids is more difficult than without. Hands down, bar none. I say this based on my own experience: my pre-parent self lived and traveled in Southeast Asia for two years in her mid-twenties, and my now-mama self just finished her first two-week air/road trip with a baby and a toddler.

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free tickets when they’re under two, but you have to hold them on your lap…

In what now seems like my past life, traveling was a breeze and a joy Continue reading

At the Dawn of Your New Year…

Good morning Mamas, and Happy New Year!

Each Jan 1, it seems like pressure to make resolutions is everywhere, and unfortunately, resolutions often have the tendency to focus on what is ‘wrong’ with us or our lives: commit to stop doing something ‘bad’ even if it doesn’t really hurt us, or limit things we really enjoy, or force ourselves to do something we don’t like. Many people, me included, don’t do traditional ‘resolutions’ because the whole exercise can seem pretty negative. (Jamie over at The Poptart Diaries published a post just this morning that I found quite familiar on that front!)

On the flip side, I (also like many people) do enjoy the process of reflecting and getting inspired for bettering myself and my life. So I’ve pulled together a few ideas here for how to do some reflection – if you’re so inclined – without the pressure, negativity, or self-destruction that resolution-making can sometimes bring at the end of an otherwise jolly holiday season:

  1. This simple post from Instagram user elephantjournal (this is the one I’m personally going to give a go this year): Screen Shot 2016-01-01 at 10.48.32
  2. Writings like this that reverse thinking on common resolutions: 7 Things Good Mothers Do That I’m Not Going to Do. (My favourite part is when Anderson explains she’s not going to be “eternally patient” because “It’s good for kids to recognize the incipient stages of someone losing their shit. This will serve them well in the world.”)
  3. Reframing resolutions as ‘intentions,’ which allows some general reflection without getting caught up in the quantifiable details that so often cause people to stumble and ultimately give up early on the goals they’ve set for themselves.
  4. Rather than making a list solely of goals you haven’t met yet, try a list of anticipations or excitements for the year ahead. My husband and I did this a few years ago (and we had a really good name for it, too, but as it was on a pre-crash computer and I have baby brain, I can’t remember it now!). It was a fun exercise because it reconnected us to our favourite activities, both separately and together, so that we were each reminded of the things that make our partner really happy, and renewed our desire to help the other person experience those things more often. It also allowed us to highlight all the things that were already going to be happening in the coming months that we were pumped about, and see what we already had going in an exciting light, rather than only thinking about things we wished or hoped might be different. The best tangible result was that it encouraged us to actually plan and take a fun road-trip that summer. We’d both been missing traveling a lot since moving home from overseas a couple of years before, and putting it in writing in January allowed us the time and momentum to make it happen by August!

I’d love to hear more ideas from my village community – what do you do at the dawn of a new year?

Let the Light Glow, Mamas!

I’m a Christmas person. I get giddy as soon as Halloween is over, and if it were up to me, decorated trees and chime-filled music would be winter-long traditions, not just December ones. That’s because my favourite part of the winter holiday season has more to do with Winter Solstice than with Christmas, at the root. I just love that in the darkest part of the year, we focus on warmth, love, and light.

So that’s all I’m going to say today, is that this December 25th, I wish all the mamas I know a day without darkness – a day full of warmth, love, and light. For those with wee ones, a day of basking in the glow of their wonderment and unbridled joy. For those with older ones, a day where your heart is warmed by the bonds you’ve grown over the years together. And for those with babes just in the womb, a day where your light shines out from within, the light of all you hope for and look forward to with your little one.

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and a Wonderful New Year to all. xoxo

Happy (Stressless) Halloween, Mamas!

Hope everyone is having a happy Halloween today, but mostly, hoping that your evening with your kiddos is a fun, relaxing time. I hope you spend the day enjoying the love your kids have of dressing up and playing pretend, the excitement they feel at the prospect of showing off their costumes to friends and neighbours, and indulging with them in some yummy treats without worrying too much about their sugar intake levels. If it takes longer than you anticipated to get them into their costumes, so what? If you don’t get to all the houses you planned to trick-or-treating, no big deal. If your kids are up later than you had hoped, well… It’s Daylight Savings tomorrow anyway, so hopefully that’ll just get them some extra snoozing in the morning!

Lastly, about costumes: it doesn’t matter whether you made, bought, borrowed, or scrounged for your kid’s (or your own!). There’s a lot of pressure out there in the online world to feel a little sheepish about how much effort and skill we mothers do or do not put into our kids’ costumes. But as I’m paraphrasing from a colleague who reassured me about Arlos’ birthday party last year: “They don’t give prizes for kids’ Halloween costumes.” (Well, maybe some people do, but not ‘they’ in the sense of the world at large.) Whatever you have the time/inclination for is just fine. And what you have the time/inclination for may well change from year to year. Last year, this was my family:

With John as C3PO

With John as C3PO

Arlo and I as an Ewok and Endor-Moon-Leia

Arlo and I as an Ewok and Endor-Moon-Leia

There was weeks of planning involved – the transformation of a crash-test-dummies suit into a C3PO costume, the gathering of sticks and buttons for the decorations on Arlo’s Ewok headdress, and trips to various fabric, thrift, and costume stores for bits and pieces we’d need.

This year, John and I aren’t dressing up, and Arlo is wearing a one-piece, fuzzy Winnie-the-Pooh suit my mom’s had in her basement pantry since 1999 when my brother wore it. I haven’t put one bit of thought or effort into this Halloween. And you know what? Arlo’s going to have just as much fun as he did last year, and so am I.

So I hope you enjoy this Halloween holiday – because it’s certainly a time for being silly, but not for being stressed about silly things.

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