The "Rule of Four" Is Helping Parents Manage Christmas Presents

posted by Careth -

I remember as a kid being soooo excited to dive into the mountain of presents under the tree on Christmas morning! It really didn't matter what I unwrapped - it was all about quantity.

That was fun until about high school... then it became a little bit overwhelming. Where was I going to put all this stuff? What was I going to do with it? How much money did all of it cost my parents!? =

Maybe my parents where a teeny tiny bit more generous than most... and I know I should just be grateful for anything someone is kind enough to give me... but the anxiety of opening up package after package of stuff that I really didn't want or need, and knew my parents couldn't afford, led me to where I don't even like presents anymore ever (unless it's wine. I always appreciate wine). 

Parents want the holidays to be magical for their kids and sometimes that can lead them to overdo it with the gifts. But we’re not doing our little ones any favors by setting their expectations so high and teaching them to manage them is important. A few gifts that they really, really want and can use will be better in the long run then getting them stuff for the sake of stuff. Some moms and dads have found that using the “rule of four” helps do that.

So what is the “rule of four?” It’s super simple - you give your kid four presents:
1) one they want
2) one they need 
3) one to wear 
4) one to read 

That’s a drastic change from the pile of presents some children are used to, but it’s a much more reasonable approach and fans of the practice say it really helps.

“Less really was more. The kids actually had a more enjoyable holiday than years when we spoiled them,” explains Megan Brunson, mom of four. “They really played with those things, and they used them more, compared to when they’d get 12 things and they’d get bored with half of them after a couple of days.”

Here are some other ways to say “no” without ruining the holidays, according to psychologist Dr. Robin H. Gurwitch:

  • Start managing expectations early - Explain to the kids that you’re downsizing the presents to save for a vacation or to make sure you have money for the things you need all year.
  • Explain your family’s rules are different from other families - If your kid expects Santa to bring anything on their wish list, let them know Santa checks with parents first and you’ve asked him to only bring four gifts this year and that some things are off limits.
  • Don’t have them pick from a catalog - It puts ideas in their heads, so ask them to come up with their own ideas about what they really want.
  • Get the grandparents onboard - If your kid wants something pricey, see if aunts and grandparents can go in on it together and make sure relatives respect your “rule of four.”
  • Swap toys for experiences - Create new traditions together and maybe put family activities on your wish list, like building a snowman together.
  • Get the kids involved with charitable giving - Let them help choose a gift for a child in need, or which cans to donate to a food pantry.

Source: Moneyish

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