As Christmas Eve is fast approaching, we just discovered a new dilemma – as you often do, when you’re a parent of small children. There’s a new challange almost every day… So this time, it was that this year was the first one, when we did the proper advent calendar thing – the chocolate one, of course. We decided, that they will get their piece of chocolate heart after dinner, bribing them into eating their food, essentially. (Gave ourselves a little pat on the shoulder, thinking that’s a smart move. Oh boy. It was such an amateur move!) My boy – huge fan of numbers and sequences – was literally shaking with excitement by the idea of combining finding numbers and getting a chocolate as a reward. He had a little melt down when he realised that he can only have ONE chocolate a day, but that was manageable.
So here comes the first obstacle: This has resulted in not eating his dinner, already on the second night, as he wanted to jump to the next stage: advent calendar. Hm. Ok, we thought, maybe it will be less exciting tomorrow. But the same thing happened. Therefore, we had to move the advent calendar seance to mid afternoon. This has been working now, but as we count down the days till Christmas Eve, we just realised another problem we will be soon facing with:
Second obstacle: the chocolate (and the numbers) will STOP coming after Christmas Eve. Now, this is quite predictable, isn’t it? We first only thought about it around the second week into the advent calendar thing and started to tell him: remember, there’s only 24 chocolates, Christmas Eve is the last day. Initially, he didn’t really care. I was quite surprised about it, but I thought, maybe he didn’t quite understood the concept. Well, he did. Over the last two days, he got quite distressed when I mentioned, that there’s only 4 more chocolates to go. I guess 15 is still a big number for a 3.5 year old. But 4? That sounds different, you can even count it on one hand.
And this got me thinking. How other parents cope with this? The child’s first advent calendar. And then one day, BANG – no more chocolates, no more finding numbers. So, as I usually do when I bump into some amusing but at the same time quite serious parenting challenge, I turned to my blogger friends for some advice. Most of them are all parent bloggers with little ones just like me, so let’s see what do they say.
“My daughter is nearly 2 and asks me at least 10 times a day for a chocolate from the elf. I’ve told her that the elf brings the chocolate when she’s sleeping and she can have it when she wakes up. The only problem is, that she thinks after a nap she can have a chocolate.” – says Zoe
“For us, we say that there are no more chocolates because now they are being replaced by gifts from Santa and friends and family. I make sure we count down from at least 8 days in advance so each day I say how many chocolates are left until the big day. He was so disappointed when he was 2 and 3 but seems to be understanding more now at 4. If all else fails get them a chocolate out of the selection box pronto. All Christmas present distractions should help them soon forget anyway.” – Suzy
Becka has a slightly different approach (and it’s a great idea!): “We have a box based advent calendar so we have to add our own treats. This way, I can put one in at a time. Little man has quickly learnt that the other boxes are empty until the Elf adds another treat once he’s asleep. Made life easier than trying to stop him opening a whole chocolate calendar.”
“I thought restricting chocolate would be too hard for a two year old so we bought a PlayMobil Christmas Farm one and he’s been great with it as he has something tangible to play with each day and it lasts longer than a chocolate would. Plus less mess! – that’s Hollie’s advice.
“Unfortunately my daughter is allergic to nuts so I don’t want to take the risk and choose advent calendars with chocolates. We opted for different candies instead. She loves it and is excited everyday for opening a new one. She opened a second, one time when we weren’t looking and we had to explain to her that she won’t be getting one the next day. She cried a lot. She’s three now and last year I didn’t have to explain why the candies won’t keep coming after Christmas, maybe she’ll wonder this year, and I’ll probably just say straight out it only happens a few days before Christmas. So much for good parenting.” – another idea from Veronica.
How did you deal with all this?