As the holiday season winds down and we catch our breath and gear up for a fresh new year, here are five gifts that won’t cost you a dime but can make the richest difference in the lives of those you give them to.
Gift giving has been around for centuries. From the days of primitive cavemen straight through to today’s cutting-edge millennials, the art of gift giving may have evolved in terms of the sheer volume of gifts we give each other, but the overall sentiment to express love, affection, and say thanks has remained the same. Gifts help to connect us as well as show a token symbol of the relationship between giver and receiver.
In today’s consumer-driven world that continuously touts the must-have technology, sleek beauty products, designer-label fashions, sexy automobiles, and high-end home goods, gift giving can end up being overwhelming, ridiculously expensive, and many times even impersonal.
As the holiday season winds down and we catch our breath and gear up for a fresh new year, here are five gifts that won’t cost you a dime but can make the richest difference in the lives of those who you give them to.
5 Gifts of Value for Your Family
- Spend Uninterrupted Time with One Another
- Be More Patient
- Break Bread Together
- Gift a New Tradition
- Get Organized
Here they are in more detail.
1. Spend Uninterrupted Time with One Another
Most families are totally crazed with schedules that are nearly impossible to meet. Between sports, after-school activities, part-time jobs, playdates, birthday parties, work obligations and the everyday logistics of life, we continue to scramble to keep it all going. As the mom of eight kids who are either married, out of or in college, or still living at home win high school and middle school, raising your kids goes by in the blink of an eye! The one regret I don’t have is when I push other obligations aside so that I can spend time with them.
When you’re reflecting on the year gone past and how you might be able to strengthen your family this year, take a look at how much time you actually spend with your kids and your partner, time that is just for them without the usual interruption of answering texts and e-mails, zoning out with an entertainment series, or just hurriedly connecting in the car back and forth to practices and other activities. Even if you have to schedule this kind of dedicated family time on your calendar, do it!
I have been scheduling “kid dates” for years now. I find times that I can spend alone with each of my kids, even if it’s a ride to school where we stop for a bagel along the way. Other times it’s a larger chunk of time like a Saturday afternoon trip to the movies and their favorite pizza place. It doesn’t have to be out of the house either. Hanging out after dinner with no distractions like cell phones or laptops and just being available if anyone in the family needs a shoulder to lean on or a friendly ear to run something by is equally as valuable.
2. Be More Patient
They say patience is a virtue and for good reason. Today’s parents are faced with a variety of challenges due to our very hectic lifestyles. When we have to shuttle our kids to all their stops, figure out what to have for dinner, make sure the pets are fed, meet our own work deadlines, and check in on our aging parents, it’s no surprise that we snap at our kids or spouse when they throw another request our way. Our family members certainly don’t want to be walking on egg shells around our short fuse, and I know when I have moments where I lash out at someone I love, I feel worse than they do.
The gift of patience, all year long, is something I continually strive for as not only a busy mom, but also in my working and personal life. In my episode on ways to be a more patient parent I offer a handful of ways you can incorporate patience into your everyday life. My favorite tip in that segment is “Practice Patience Daily.” Patience is definitely something that takes practice. Like any habit, you need to work on it consistently so that it becomes a part of your everyday life. Find a mantra for yourself that you can recite when you feel yourself getting edgy. Mine has always been, “This Too Shall Pass.” My most trying time of the day when my kids were younger was the hour before dinner. They seemed to be extra whiney and needy at that time of the day, and that was when I was tired from a long day at home with lots of toddlers and young pre-schoolers. I really focused on not losing my cool during this time each day and rewarded myself with something as simple as reading my favorite magazine quietly and alone right before I served dinner to my hungry troops.
I recommend that when you do catch yourself practicing a bit more patience, pat yourself on the back and realize that you can continue this and instead of reacting with anger, teach yourself to react with love and laughter. You’ll feel better about how you interact with your kids, even when they’re getting on your nerves, and at the same time, you’ll be teaching your kids this valuable practice for themselves.