5 Ways to Be More Present With Your Kids During the Holidays


The holiday season is here, and with it comes the many traditions established over the years. The traditions my parents established created so much joy for our family. And as time and distance caused some traditions to fade out, the memories remain. Looking back, I remember the moments when my parents were totally present with us the most.

Before kids, I had great expectations for how to craft the perfect holiday. My calendar was totally booked from Thanksgiving to New Years Day with events like ice skating, hot chocolate breaks, holiday cocktails, gift exchanges, and parties. Not to mention the time spent on planning and preparing for all of those events and the time required to watch the full movie line-up in Hallmark Channel’s Countdown to Christmas

When we had our first kid, I was able to keep up with my insane expectations for the perfect holiday. Although now that I think about it, ice skating as a couple was kind of impossible. And our holiday cocktail hour wasn’t quite the same. Heading into the holidays with a second kid is throwing me off my holiday game a little bit. And then I remembered something my mom said to me: Things are just harder with two little kids. Sometimes, you can’t do all the things, and that’s OK.

After stressing about how to pull together a holiday with traditions my sons will cherish forever, I decided it’s more important to focus on being present with them instead. They are too little to remember what we did this Christmas anyway, but I will want to remember the moments with them when they are this little. 

To simplify my holiday expectations, I pulled together a few categories to help me prioritize important traditions and activities so that I can be more present with my kids. Here are the categories with example activities.

1. Decorate

While I’m almost certain my house will wind up fully decorated for the holidays, I’m committing myself to decorate a Christmas tree with my kids. That’s one tradition I can’t part with, no matter how busy I am. Plus, I can’t wait to find out how my toddler reacts to this activity!

2. Bake

This time of year I usually bake pies and cookies all the time. I love baking, but year after year I wind up with a ton of leftovers. To simplify, I’m committing to baking one treat this year. I’ve chosen to make my mom’s holiday brownies with chocolate icing and sprinkles that she served in cupcake liners. This is something I haven’t yet made with my son, and I’m curious how he will react to making something different this year. I’m sure I’ll bake more than this, but I like setting a small goal in this area for now.

3. Give

Personally, I think it’s so important to give during the holidays, be it through time, talent, or treasure. There are so many ways to get the whole family involved in volunteering in the community. I’m not sure that I can commit to volunteering outside of my home this year, given that I’m nursing one of my sons, so I’m giving myself a break this holiday season and committing myself to knit a square for Warm Up America instead. By setting a volunteer goal that I can work on in the home, I’m able to spend just a few more precious moments with my kids.

4. Play

Many moms are so busy during the holidays that playing hardly makes it to the top of the to-do list. With this in mind, I’m committing to chasing my toddler around (in the snow if we get any!). I think this area is the one I want to focus on the most this holiday season since last year I did not make time to play with my son in the snow and I regret that! 

5. Reflect

I want to start teaching my kids about the religious aspect of the holiday. To accomplish this, I’m committing myself to reading stories that will help them learn about our beliefs and how they apply to the holiday season. By being fully present in the moment of reading these stories to my kids, I am hoping to build a longstanding tradition of reflection for them in the future.

I’m always going to be looking for ways to establish holiday memories for my kids. I want them to be happy when they think about our time together. There will come a day when our holiday calendar will be totally booked again. But this year, with two little kids, I’m thinking less is more. 

Comment below with how you plan to spend time with your kids this holiday season. There are plenty of ways to celebrate the holidays in the area. If you need inspiration for things to do, check out the DC Area Moms Blog’s Holiday Light Display Guide, Where to Get a Photo With Santa Guide, and other holiday guides.