christmasToday’s post is brought to you by Hawley H. Hoggard, Head of school at Keystone Montessori School.

The holidays are upon us and festivities are in full swing.  If we are not careful, however, life can quickly spiral into a fortnight of chaos instead of being a celebration of joy and love.  The spirit of the season can get lost in the hustle and bustle of the season, particularly if there are children at home.  Parents, however, can rein in the escalating excitement of family and help promote not only peace on Earth, but also peace at home.  

Here are some ways to help calm the chaos at home this year:

– Have realistic plans.  Our society continually promotes perfection.  It is subtle, but it is there.  Check out the newsstand and see the many claims for “The Perfect Holiday Dinner,” “Finding the Ultimate Gift for Your Special Someone,” and “Look Your Best for the Holidays – Lose 1000 Pounds by Christmas!”  Wouldn’t it be nice to see articles like “Hot Dogs for Christmas Dinner,” “Decorate with Paper Towels,” or “Go ahead, Eat the Chocolate?”  People shouldn’t work themselves like the staff of an HGTV extravaganza to create the greatest holiday celebration ever.  These holidays have a way of coming around every year.

– Keep life simple.  Try to keep the family routine intact.  Young children especially need order and routine in their lives for their sense of security.  Over-scheduling activities is a common problem these days, and it becomes an even bigger problem during the holidays.  Children’s normal bedtimes need to be respected, otherwise you might be witness to what my husband referred to as “The Nuclear Meltdown.”

– Make time for togetherness at home with just the members of the household.  Pop in a Christmas CD, play some board games, work on a big jigsaw puzzle, make a simple craft (without getting engulfed by Pinterest) or simply go for a family walk to see the neighbors’ Christmas lights.

– Keep shopping trips with children short and sweet.  You know why!  The more they see the more they want.  You can take them shopping at “Ceiling Tiles ‘R’ Us” and they will still find something that they absolutely have to have!

– Provide a means for the children to diffuse their excitement.  Quite by accident one year we created our own tradition with “The Christmas Mailman.”  We have a little red metal rural mailbox for one of our Christmas decorations.  It gives a little squeak when you open it.  One day, when our older son was very young, we thought it would be funny to put a piece of candy in it to surprise him.  Well, a tradition was born!  Every year since then, the Christmas Mailman has come by the last ten nights or so before Christmas and left a little toy, candy or coin in the mailbox.  (Sure, there were occasions when that mailman forgot to make a delivery, but then that is when the “terrible snowstorm story” was created).  Both boys are grown now, but when they are home with us, they still check that little squeaky mailbox.

Here’s hoping that your holidays are joyful, peaceful and full of love!

Hawley Hoggard has been helping 3 to 6 year-olds and their parents via the Montessori approach for 24 years, with the past 20 years here in Charlotte.  She was a Montessori parent before she became captivated by the Montessori materials and Dr. Montessori’s genius.  She and her husband of 37 years have two grown sons who have both found careers in sports.  She recently became a mother-in-law.  When she is not working at Keystone Montessori School she runs (sort of), and enjoys fishing whenever she gets the chance.  She also enjoys a good laugh.

For more information about Keystone Montessori School, click here.