Last year, I had a fabulous idea. We would make a gingerbread house as a family! I had in my head this picture perfect scene of my husband and me with our two beautiful children joyously creating this item so closely connected with the Christmas season.
Oh. My. It was far from that. I spent most of my time telling the children to be patient and that they couldn't eat the candy. Kaitlyn (then about 1.5) spent most of the time upset that she wasn't able to eat candy. Bradyen (then 3.5) spent most of the time anxious to decorate the house.
Once they did start decorating, my husband and I foolishly directed their moves. The whole time we were looking at each other with this laugh of, "What were we thinking?" We pretty much decided to never do that again until our kids were much older.
Fast forward one year. The effects of last year had worn off and I decided it wasn't that bad. I went for a train kit this year; a train would be better than a house! My husband kind of gave me this look like I was crazy, but was nice enough to go along with my plan.
I had thought things over and realized the problem with last year's experience was fully with the parents (um, that would be me and my husband). We wanted this perfect looking house. This year, we decided we didn't care how the train turned out--we would just let the kids have fun.
It worked! We had fun, the kids had fun, and the train turned out quite nice (pictured above)! So what are my tips for making a gingerbread creation with your children?
- Assemble the house/train/whatever beforehand. That way, the kids won't be sitting by you constantly asking when you are going to be done so they can decorate. This will also give the item time to set up before little hands come along...these hands are not delicate :)
- Give the kids candy. Give your children a little bowl of candy to eat at will. It is really quite unfair to give a child a pile of candy and then forbid him to eat any. Give him an amount you are okay with him eating.
- Leave perfectionism in the other room. Let your kids decorate it and forget about how it looks. In the end, in my experience, you treasure the chaotic one they created themselves more than the symmetrical one you micromanaged. If you are like me and tend to hover, do something to prevent yourself from doing so. I held my baby the whole time so I was distracted and just happy to have the older two busy :)
- Have fun!