Many people are surprised to realize that Christmas is anything but a time of pure joy for children. But trust me, it can be a difficult time for many families.
Sure our kids are excited about Santa's pending trip down the chimney, but they are also big fans of consistancy, and Christmas is a time when everything changes, from daily schedules, to the invasion of Christmas decorations, drastically altering their physical environment.
Here are some of my tips for surviving Christmas, and enjoying it along the way.
- Plan ahead. Do your best to plan your Christmas visits, so that you can let your child know in advance where they are going, and for how long. If you are going from place to place, create a little list for your child to follow, and perhaps keep in their pocket.
- Pack heavily. This is the time to test the capacity of your purse. Fill your purse with everything you need, or might need, or just might be nice to help your child enjoy themselves, whereever you are going. Favourite snacks, chewey tubes, portable DVD player with favoured videos, portable gaming system, books, iPod fully loaded...and whatever else you can think of. Sound excessive? I personally believe there is no such thing as being overly prepared.
- Social Stories. Make use of Carol Gray's brilliant idea by writing Social Stories which may cover any novel situation you may be in. Perhaps one illustrating proper use of another child's new Christmas toy, how to politely decline offered foods, what to do when you want to go home, but you can't just yet....you anme the issue, and you can write the story.
- Maintain normalcy as much as possible. Admist all of the hustle and bustle, try to find some things that can stay the same. Your little one may cling to these small strands of normal, and they just might get them through all the rest. For example, last year we homeschooled through the holidays, missing just Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day. Even if he doesn't love school work, it is a big part of his schedule. Also, you might do your best to maintain the regular bedtime routine. Small pockets of normal in a sea of change.
- Keep your home sacred ground. Allow your house to always be a safe place, his or her place of retreat. Perhaps you shouldn't host the big holiday parties, or large family dinners, unless this is something your child enjoys.
- If it's just too much, don't do it. Learn to say no. Not all invitations are best accepted. Show gratitude for being included, but if you think an event would just be too much, you are most likely right. Your stress will become your child's stress. Do what you can, try your best, and try your best to recognize that keeping your child's best interest in mind is bound to dissapoint others at times. That's just part of the deal.
- Keep your holiday priorities straight, happy, joyful time together as a family.