One of my favorite things about Tiny is her beautiful, giving heart. She is empathetic (unless it is with her brother and he has her tablet in hand – then she’s brutal) and loving, and makes me so proud. With that in mind, no child is immune to “gimme-itis” at Christmas. This year, as she is getting older, and frankly, I’m pretty sure she has wised up about Santa tough she refuses to ask me about it, it is time to cement the giving spirit of the holiday.
I told one of my friends about my advent plans and he remarked that this is “intentional parenting,” which got me to thinking. What can I do to ensure that she is developing the character traits that I want her to cling to as an adult? Model them, of course.
This year for Advent, a season of giving and grace by nature, we are going to focus no on toys or gifts. We are not going to focus on Elves, wrapping paper, or candy. This year, I am going to carve out a little time from our day to make sure that both Teeny and Tiny are consciously and intentionally doing something with another person in mind, and without seeking credit for their good deed. Sure, we’ll have Pinocchio and Sprinkles (Tiny and Teeny’s elves), cookies and wrapping of gifts, but we are going to make giving the focus this year, not giving.
Our advent calendar this year is a homemade set of envelopes that I purchased from our local craft store. Inside each pouch, I am going to put two tiny chocolates that they will get when we discuss how they accomplished their task each day. And I am going to do each task along with them.
When they donate items, I will donate items. If I have asked them to compliment someone they don’t like, I am going to do the same. The need to see me making the same gestures and sacrifices that they are being asked to make if the focus is truly going to shift this year. Don’t get me wrong, they are 10 and 3 – I don’t expect them to turn into tiny saints and forego all gifts this year – far from it – I tend to go more overboard on Christmas spirit than they do. What matters is that they are intentionally going to make conscious decisions to do something kind each day as we get closer to Christmas. I want to cultivate a servant’s heart in each of them. There is no better way to do that than to be of service to others along with them.
I have included the tasks that I am going to use in my resource library. Subscribe to my mailing list and get the password – exclusively for subscribers! This free download is formatted for 30 count address label printables, but you could also print on paper and place inside of your envelope.
To make my Advent service calendar, I simply used red and white baker’s twine to suspend each envelope from a string.
I have placed an address label sized task on the back of each envelope so that I can use them again next year.
Inside of each pouch is a tiny chocolate bear or Santa (I got mine from Aldi) for each of them.
The key to this activity is the follow through in the evenings. At dinner, I want to know how each of them made a conscious effort to work together and accomplish their task. Believe me, I want a concrete example. I will also share mine with them.
As the days between December 1st and Christmas approach, I hope that they will begin to look forward to their task each day – some are more fun than others! I am excited to see how their tiny hearts will be blessed as they bless others!
What do you do to intentionally cultivate a spirit of service in your children?
Like what you read? Want the free download? Don’t forget to subscribe to my mailing list to never miss an adventure and get the password offered exclusively to members!