7 Tips for Trimming the Tree with Toddlers
EIGHT days until Christmas?!
Sorry, had to repeat that because I just heard it on Weekend Update on SNL, and it sunk in...
The girls and I all got disgustingly ill this past week with some sort of stomach bug. I think I mentioned before that Remy had it last Saturday. Well Arlo and I both got it Tuesday night, but Arlo seems to bounce back the next morning, with a little extra whining, while I was laid up for an entire day with body chills and aches from heaving the entire night/morning. I had not been this sick in like ten years, so I guess it was my turn to catch that violent virus. Yeah! So, we did absolutely nothing as far as our little activity advent calendar. Rest, play, hydration, food, rest, rest...that was our week. Praying that is all for sickness for us for a long while, but fearing the worst with Remy being in preschool now...
Anyway...we did find a beautiful live tree this year around Thanksgiving, and she is STILL looking perky and spry over here! I water her and open the windows so she can get light and so far, needles crossed, she still looks beautiful! Husband mentions getting an artificial tree, but I just LOVE the smell and look and feel of a real tree.
This year, I had two little elves helping me along and I am SO happy they love Christmas as much as their mama and I actually do not mind one bit that they want to help. I grew up helping my mama. We were all invited and encouraged to help decorate the tree, but I seemed to be the only one really interested. I was also the most clumsy and remember breaking several priceless ornaments on our hardwood floors. Sorry Mom!
Luckily we have carpet, and luckily I have the ornaments pretty well sorted so that the girls were able to trim the tree all on their own for the most part with their ornaments they have collected or made so far in their tiny short years. I let Remy help with some of my ornaments and she was delicate as can be, just look at her tiny fingers! A big hit were my Barbie Nutcracker ornaments- thanks momma! Also, the taxi cab from FAO Schwartz that we got in NYC when Remy was a baby on her first Christmas. That was SUCH a beautiful time in my life and I will never forget that Christmas. She remembered the ornament when i told her the story of how we traveled there, she loves hearing it, and she was giggling with happiness holding it up, glad I had my camera out.
Arlo remembered her stuffed ice cream cone and the look on her face down there is Christmas to me. These two. They are my whole entire world. I am loving Christmas-time through their little eyes and generous hearts and innocent spirits. This age is special with them.
I finished trimming the tree with my blown glass ornaments, my fruit collection, and my antique ornaments on top. We took several days to finish and I didn't mind the drawn out approach, actually prefer it!
I think they did such a fantastic job! I really didn't move any unless they needed a sturdier branch! Remy enjoyed it the most. And when it was my turn to do the delicate ones, Arlo turned to playing doctor with her penguin and Remy jumped into The Nutcracker book I had from growing up. She kept asking if she could look at it and when I finally gave her the okay, she was so sweet and gentle with the pages. I am blessed to have two great girls, my priceless gifts.
Quick Tips for Trimming the Tree with Toddlers:
1. Purposefully box the child's ornaments in their own box so they feel empowered and in charge when you pull it out at Christmas. If they have glass, porcelain, delicate or heirloom ornaments in their collection, tuck those away in another box for when they are more grown.
2. Package the soft ornaments, or unbreakables in another box to give them that much more to work with. I have some beaded ones, some I collected from the thrift shop, some handed down from my mom that are embroidered, these are all toddler-friendly.
3. Let them place the ornaments on the tree themselves and wait for them to ask for help. If you are worried about breakage and don't have soft carpet, pile a quilt around the tree on top of the tree skirt to cushion the fall. I encourage them to be independent and figure things out, or they truly take initiative, almost too much, and go for it themselves. They did come to me if hooks fell off or they were too heavy for branches. Hooks can be pokey, but I am always nearby to help with that. Remy even brought one to me and said I should do it because it was too delicate. Raising responsible girls- so I pray...
4. Share with them where and when you got the ornaments you do have. Maybe not every single one needs a mention, but this is a great opportunity to bond with your kiddos of course, and also share family history, funny stories, travel, past times. Tradition is at the center of Christmas as much as belief and faith. The act of unboxing ornaments as a family and trimming the tree may seem trivial, but it is a BIG tradition. Traditions, rituals... all important in childhood development. I love having the same ornaments year after year and adding to the collection each year with ornaments from places we visit, and the girls get a special ornament every year as we did. I always thought it was odd when people bought a whole shopping basket of colored bulbs every year based on trends... Call me old fashioned.
5. I like to have Christmas music going and snacks. I have been filling little dishes with the honey roasted pecans and peanuts. I thought it might be trouble leaving them out, but the girls have enjoyed snacking on them here and there, but haven't over indulged or made a mess. I wanted to leave ribbon candy out, but I might wait on the sweets.
6. Use trimming the tree as a learning experience. We try to do this with everything. But, when I water the tree I talked to them about how the tree was once living and explained the process of how it made it into our living room. We also talk about how much water it takes to fill it.
7. ENJOY your tree! No matter how big, small, inexpensive, tall, short, round, faux, real, pink, flocked, whatever, a tree symbolizes so much, especially for these little souls. Remember that. I saw a woman dashing through Hobby Lobby and she had a boxed tree, a small one, and a young boy trailing behind her. He seemed so excited and she was so incredibly grumpy about the entire process. She mentioned how she was just going to get a small one, which is fine, but the way she phrased it in her tone of voice was sort of saddening and probably put a dark cloud on the experience for the boy. We don't HAVE to get or buy or decorate a tree, but golly if we are going to do it, do it with joy and goodwill in your hearts and a SMILE! Some of my favorite things this holiday season have been dancing in this little bit of space in front of the tree to Marshmallow World, and playing "I Spy" at night before bed where I have the girls find an ornament. We also created a new game of "Hide the Pickle," where one person hides our pickle ornament, a German tradition, and then the other has to find it. I love sitting in front of her all lit up at night when the girls are tucked in, have a glass of wine or a dessert and just be in its light,
Wishing all of you a wonderful, HAPPY, peaceful and LOVING week before Christmas, our Lord Savior's birth...