The holidays are rapidly approaching and sometimes our schedules fill up before we know it. However, for parents of children with special needs; specifically those with sensory differences, the holidays can be an especially stressful time. What can you do to make them better?
Keep as much routine or rhythm to your day as possible
Often times due to holiday closings, parties or family commitments, many of our days are not “typical” during November and December. However, if you can, keep some routine in your days. Try to keep meals, naps and sleep schedules the same, if at all possible. Even if the times are a bit off, having the same routines (reading a story, brushing teeth, praying before bed) can make a big difference in how your children react to the holidays.
Consider preparing your child for new events
This looks different for every child. But if your child needs to know what is going on, consider making a visual schedule or a social story to introduce them to new people, events, or new sensory experiences. Talk about the event, show them pictures, or even pick out a video (YouTube is fabulous for this) to show them what the event will entail.
Put yourself in your child’s shoes
As you schedule your holiday plans, try to step back and really look at how much you have scheduled. Think through what your child typically has trouble with or what triggers problems or meltdowns? Are there modifications to be made? If you have children who love something, and others who don’t, could part of your family participate?
Don’t be afraid to say NO!
This is probably my best tip: Don’t be afraid to say no. Though the holidays are special, we tend to over schedule and cram every social event into a month’s time. It can get overwhelming, even for adults who are extroverts. Sometimes we just need to say no. This involves prioritizing what is really important to us and our families. We don’t have to do everything in order to make memories. In fact, some of things that make the best memories, are those we do at home and without planning.
Let go of your expectations
In this fabulous of age of Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest, we tend to want all our memories to look “picture perfect”. Guess what? That’s not real life. Sometimes the greatest triumph you will have is keeping your children alive or getting everyone a bath. Remember, when you see pictures of perfection that is literally one second of that person’s day. I can guarantee you that the other 86,399 seconds in their day do not look that way.
Embrace simple family traditions
Reading Christmas stories, playing with a nativity set, singing Christmas carols, decorating a tree, baking Christmas cookies, coloring and decorating the house all are fun ways to celebrate. You don’t have to be out at light shows or at a party with 100 people to make memories that your children will cherish. Just as you can do school “outside of the box”, you can do Christmas “outside of the box.” You can do it any way that works for you and your family. Don’t be afraid of embracing new traditions or trying different things.
Whatever you choose to do this year, we at SPED Homeschool pray it is an amazing time for you and your family.