I have always believed Christmas to be a holiday belonging to children; after all, I don’t seem to get much of a rest, so it can’t belong to me!

With all the magic, the presents, the lights and permission to eat sweets and chocolate as freely as if they had become one of their ‘5 a day’, it can be a bit of a shock when the holiday weeks have passed and the ‘normal’ of January sets in. For all the love we give our children, the excessive receiving of gifts, sugar consumption and socializing can bring out traits in them we usually encourage them to squash.

All parents are familiar with the dreaded post Christmas wind down where, after 2 weeks for having all their little dreams come true, we suddenly expect them to snap back into the disciplined and polite (and calm!) children that they were.  And in truth, it’s all our fault.

In an attempt to prevent our December darlings turning into January demons, follow our guide to keep their feet firmly on the ground without losing that Christmas magic. It’s not as hard as it sounds, I promise.

Emphasize giving. Children naturally start to think of themselves around Christmas, encouraged to write lists of toys they want to send to Santa, they can lose sight of an important element of Christmas, giving. A tradition we started in our home was to take our children shopping to buy food to take to the local homeless shelter. Our children are involved in the whole process, the shopping, boxing it up and delivering it to the shelter.

The first time we did this I’ll never forget the look of disbelief on my children’s faces as they took in the fact that some people didn’t have a home to decorate, let alone a Christmas dinner to eat. I don’t think they will ever forget the gratitude of the volunteers at the shelter which put a bigger smile on their faces than Christmas morning.  Donating toys to women and children’s shelters is another great way to encourage them to think of others less fortunate.

Turn off the media. You’re busy with preparations, the children are excited and demanding attention, it’s so easy to fall back on your favorite babysitter, the TV.

Try to have a simpler Christmas, take inspiration from communities such as the Bruderhof, who have rejected the trappings of consumerism. Christmas is about family. Use this precious time to play with your children, bake cookies together, read with them or take walks. These will be the things they remember.

Encourage homemade gifting. Talk to your children about what they could make to give to family members at Christmas. Children actually love giving gifts that they have made and seeing it used and appreciated. It is by experiencing gratitude from others that children learn gratitude themselves.

In the build up to Christmas, talk to your children about what they could make for others. It may be a pretty tin of homemade cookies, a decoration for someone else’s tree, a lavender stuffed fabric heart or even a simple framed picture. There are lots of simple craft ideas that your children can get stuck into, which will make their focus and concentration in the build up to Christmas something positive and caring.