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  • Writer's pictureShelly Snow Pordea

Making the Most of Holidays with Big Kids

Christmas reindeer carving

I've got big kids. Like, the only one not taller than both my husband and I is the oldest and a girl. So, genes. That's fair.

But, I'm at a weird stage that isn't talked about a lot, I think. Kids still in the home, and out of it too. Practically all three adults by society's standard, one completely on her own, the next at college, and the last who sleeps across the hall from us. I'm not a toddler mom, not a teen mom, not a grandma. I'm an in-betweener? Not sure that's gonna catch on.

When they were super young, I read all the mommy books, blogs, and even soaked up info on the whole YouTube phenomenon as it was emerging. The big kid stuff I was able to get my hands on was mostly in reference to "when they think they are big kids, but their tiny pants can still be bought at Once Upon a Child." Sad was the day when they couldn't fit the coveted size 16/18 children's. On to grown-up prices.

So, what happens when momma's looking for a 34–36L for the longest skinny-jean-wearing legs you ever did see? How do I do this?

Well, the jeans' shopping, I just do online because warehouses usually store all the sizes of our species. And mom tip: Old Navy has the most in-store options for long-legged boys without graduating to the Big & Tall section that I've found.

But all the other stuff? Like what holidays can mean for them after their years of glitter crafts and strung popcorn? I haven't found a lot of tips on that. So, since I've learned a lot from trial and error with my own kids, allow me to share!

First: Don't assume.

Dang it. WHY do I repeat this mistake over and over? After our daughter got married, we casually spoke about what she and her husband wanted to do for Christmas and tried to plan our regular traditions in a way that would allow them to be involved in as much or little as they wanted. Her mother-in-law and I have become close friends and we're determined to not be those people who pressure their children into things. We're so chill.

When Easter rolled around, no biggie. All things are awesome, and though I never plan anything major (except for the occasional totally fun glow-in-the-dark egg hunt) I assumed she and her new hubby would have plans with the bigger party planners, the in-laws. Problem. Mother-in-law wanted a hostess hiatus and didn't plan anything.

Enter phone call on Saturday afternoon.

"Heeey, mom...what are you guys doing tomorrow?"

"Well, going to church."

"Yeah, but, are you planning anything?"

"Oh, you know. Just a home-cooked meal and maybe an egg hunt with the boys tomorrow afternoon, nothing major. Why?"

"Well...I just wondered if you would have enough for us to join you too?"

***Screechy record scratch*** Rewind. What?

"Um, you guys aren't going to the in-laws house?"

"Well, no one invited us to anything, so we really didn't have plans at all."

AAAhhh! Apparently, epic mom fails do not end at the age of 18. Sheesh. We're so chill we forgot to be cool. Not wanting to pressure them into choosing, I just assumed. Which leads me to my next point.

P.S. They came over. We didn't do our evening glow-hunt, but we still kept some of our Easter traditions with an added son-in-law until they slipped away to spend some time with his family too. We're lucky enough to all live very close.

Second: Invite, don't pressure.

Just because I invite my kids to something, does not mean I'm trying to guilt them into being there. I think I've been so afraid of making them feel obligated to spend time with me, that, at times, I've forgotten to invite them to come over as much as possible. My door's always open is nice, but it's not a real invitation.

I now try to invite to specific events with no strings attached, and mean it. I think it's challenging to communicate that disappointment about not seeing your child on a special day does not mean you're disappointed in them, and that's where pressure can be felt. But if you're truly okay with whatever they choose, I think they'll know it.

Third: Plan something special.

A few years ago I planned a family outing to the Daniel Boone Home's Christmas Candlelight Tour. I was a little hesitant, but it was something I wanted to do, so I went ahead and booked the tour for us and our three teenagers. I kind of expected them to be a little disinterested, but the truth is, we had a lot of fun together. They even thanked me for taking them.

Sometimes it's hard not to feel like you're pretty lame compared to the kids you've raised to be way cooler than you ever were. I mean, it was the 80's and 90's, folks. I didn't have nearly the chance of coolness these millennials do. But special activities, silly crafts, decorating day, and cookie baking can still be things that bring your kids a taste of childhood joy that you thought might be a thing of the past.

So, plan away, but do yourself a favor. Confirm their schedules so you know how to prepare!

If you'd like to download a copy of my free "Practically Grown-up Big Kids Holiday Guide", click here.

And don't forget to share with me your favorite tips on doing holidays with "big kids"! What's your family's favorite age-neutral holiday activity?

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