Marie Louise McConville: I'm trying to help my kids understand the importance of helping others this Christmas

Striving to teach my children how to be kind and help others using a reverse Advent calendar
Marie Louise McConville

I just adore this time of year.

I love driving home and pulling into the street where I live and seeing all the twinkling lights in the windows.

I really enjoy hearing Christmas music playing in the shops and I love that with this time of year, comes multiple opportunities to meet up and spend time with family and friends.

Of course, not everyone is lucky enough to be in that position.

Unfortunately, we live in a time where many people can find themselves alone at Christmas or struggling to buy food for their family, presents for their children or even heat their homes.

This year in particular, I have felt under pressure to set a good example to my children and for the last few months, both Darren and myself have been trying to teach the kids about kindness and how we should always help others.

In the run up to Christmas, I was very aware that children learn best through example and so I set out to try and undertake a project which would show the children, particularly Abbie, about being kind and helping others.

It was a friend of mine who suggested a reverse Advent calendar.

The idea is that instead of just buying a traditional calendar, where the children open a door every day and find some chocolate, that we give instead of receiving.

So, I found a box and explained to Abbie that for every day in December, we would put an item in the box - a tin of soup, a packet of pasta, a box of biscuits, some teabags.

Then, just before Christmas, we will donate the box to help others.

I explained it to her, she's just turned four, and she seemed to understand, though she was a little sad when I explained that some children and their parents don't have as much as others.

So far, we have been going quite well - up until we put a chocolate Santa into the box - but she was fine when I explained that another little girl might enjoy it more.

In addition, we have also decided to donate a doll to a toy drive.

I can only hope these little acts - in the grand scheme of things - can make a small difference and help teach the children how important it is to think of others.

Maybe it's time we all took a little time to think of others and help where we can.


Exciting news this week - book clubs are out and storytelling clubs are in.

As we head into 2019, apparently, it's all about sharing stories out loud with others.

Already, there are 100 storytelling clubs in Britain and even a number of storytelling festivals.

The idea is that a storyteller reads a tale to small groups in villages halls, cafes or social clubs and then after, everyone chats about the story over a glass of wine or lemonade or coffee.

Sounds fabulous.

Count me in - I love a good yarn.



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Further details on the Bellamianta range is available online at

I have three Bellamianta Dark Self Tanning Tinted Lotion three-piece luxury gift sets to give away.

If you fancy winning a set, simply email your name, address and telephone number – along with the answer to the question below – to

Closing date for entries is 12 noon on Tuesday, December 18, 2018.

(Q) What date is New Year's Eve?

Normal Irish News Rules Apply


The winners of the Tantastic competition are Naomi Watson, from Cloughey and Noelle Mulholland, from Poyntzpass

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