Five Ways To Engage Your Young Children In Advent

Like most mothers, I have high hopes for the weeks leading up to Christmas. In my mind, we calmly put up dozens of ornaments, read long passages of scripture as a family by candlelight, and marvel at the presents piling under the tree.

The main issue with this vision? I'm pretending that my very young children are as capable as 10-yr-olds. I'm ignoring and wishing away this season of life, hoping for the future days of good tidings and great joy, feeling a little resentful that today's Christmas season looks pretty different.

Instead of decking-the-halls with complex activities, our Christmas season looks like a 3ft tree with no breakable items attached. It looks like hiding all presents in the basement, because we know they would be ripped and opened within a few minutes of being placed under the tree. It looks like early bedtimes and telling stories with our "Little People" nativity set. And there can be joy in this too...

If you're looking for some easy ways to engage your very young children this Advent season, here are some ideas:

1. Sing songs together - maybe even some simple traditional hymns with rich truths.

2. Do short, easily accessible seasonal activities - cut holes in your coffee filters and call them snowflakes, drink hot cocoa, look at lights (you know, things that require ZERO planning!)

3. Play pretend - use your imagination and act out the nativity story!

4. Use toys as illustrations - invest in a play nativity set (even one you find at a second-hand store) and talk through the Christmas story as they play.

5. Use kid-friendly decorations - have some things they can enjoy that you can say "yes" to (plastic ornaments, a felt tree, etc.)

6. Encourage the longing - when the struggle to wait for the big day (and their presents) remind them that we are supposed to feel that about Jesus' return!

And bottom line is - when you have little ones, keep it simple. Smile. Have fun. That's what they'll really remember!