Hello darlings! The difficulties we face as parents are further compounded when we throw money into the mix. After all, we want the best for our children, but when money becomes one of the biggest problems we have to overcome, we can feel like we are letting our children down somewhat. This is none truer than the Christmas season. When we finally get out of debt from the last Christmas, what happens? We start to worry about the next Christmas, not to mention birthdays and other occasions where we have to spend a lot of money. But when it comes to these occasions, whether it's Christmas, birthdays, or vacations, how can we focus on giving them the experience that they deserve, but without us going into masses of debt? 

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It’s all about a plan!

It's amazing how many parents just decide to buy things for the children so they can feel that sense of gratification in giving their children what they want, but this is not a very sensible approach. After all, we believe that it's worth it when we see the gleam in our children's eyes, but how long do we feel that sense of satisfaction for? Not very long. Instead, when finances are a problem, we need to come up with a worthwhile plan, not just so our credit cards don't take a battering, but we can give our children what they want and manage their expectations at the same time. Instead of giving our children everything on their wishlist, we should pick a handful of items, but also discuss this with our children if money is an issue. Of course, when it comes to something like Christmas, it's a little bit easier; if we see what they've written to Santa, and we can then justify the fact that Santa hasn't got enough room on his sleigh, so they can only have one gift. If we can manage their expectations, while at the same time, coming up with a suitable financial plan, everyone will feel happier as a result.

Creating the experience, not just giving them gifts!

After all, as our children get older, they are just going to want more and more things. And if we don't want our bank balance to suffer as a result, perhaps it's more about helping our children appreciate what a good gift entails. Yes, we can buy them something they want, whether it's a toy or a video game, but if they can be more appreciative of what an occasion like Christmas or a birthday means, but they will appreciate the experience, rather than the fact that it's a time for them to get gifts. And this is a big mistake that we all make, but it's something that, to an extent, most of us have grown up with. And there are many people out there that are going against the grain now, and not focusing on gifts but making birthdays and Christmas about the experience. I for one decided against a toys and sugar filled advent this Christmas and instead came up with Advent calendar ideas for a toddler. And the thing is, we can create a magical experience for our children without making it all about the gifts. Something like Christmas is a great example because it's a very magical time. You can implement lawn care approaches to add that little bit of sparkle to your home, and it's still not as expensive as a large present that can get you into debt. And to an extent, we will always have this problem with our children not getting exactly what they want, but if we don't want our bank balance to suffer, we have to start making our children realize that it's not just about gifts.

Making the shift in attitude

While we can make their birthday or Christmas an occasion that's about family and caring, if we've spent so long getting ourselves into debt so our children can have everything they want in a material sense, we've got a bigger challenge on our hands. And the fact is, when it comes to these types of occasions, if our children believe that the true meaning of Christmas or their birthday is about getting all the presents they want, it's about managing expectations, not just in terms of their attitude towards the occasion, but we've got to minimize everybody else around us giving so much in the way of gifts. In other words, the grandparents. And as much as they like to show their affection for their grandchildren by giving them all the presents they want, is this communicating the wrong message, despite your best efforts? And the thing is with this approach is that we could get ourselves into a lot of arguments with our parents (and parents in law). So can we balance it out in other ways? Maybe our children can look forward to receiving material gifts from their grandparents, but as parents, we can provide more of an experience or a family occasion on the day itself? This is a very difficult balance. Because we may be criticized as being skinflints, and not buying our kids all the gifts they want. But nowadays, we've got so much financial worry to deal with, that we can't buy them everything. And so we can either explain it to our children outright, we can focus more on changing the occasion. Christmas is about giving thanks, family, and celebration.

Ultimately, giving your children the occasion they deserve is not necessarily about giving them all the gifts they want. And when our children get older, they will look back on Christmases and birthdays, and either think about all the gifts that they got, or about what the day represented. And every family has a financial dilemma to face these days. And a lot of us believe that to give our children the occasion they deserve, we've got to get into debt. At this becomes a cycle that we can struggle to get out of. If our children grow up believing that their birthdays are all about gifts and getting everything they want, this is going to make them realize later on, when they have their own children, that we got into a lot of debt for them. Do you want your children to feel that this is the only way to provide happiness? It's far better to focus on the occasion.