Holidays can be insidious for our families. School breaks and cold weather keep our kids inside and boredom can become an issue. Kids like ours often don’t have lots of friends they can visit with or activities that can divert them. Parents can get overwhelmed with the needs of their kids along with all the expectations, events, financial stresses, and additional chores that the holidays can bring.
Remember, it is defminitely OK to say “No”. Don’t overschedule yourself or your children. It’s ok to turn down invitations to certain parties or events and do something less stressful like watching a movie at home or playing a board game. It’s really ok for kids to spend some time in a quiet space away from all the relatives and chatter. Remember, relatives are often very supportive of any approach that will minimize having their holidays disrupted by tantrums and outbursts!
While you’re freeing yourself of too many engagements, keep in mind that you don’t have to be a Slave to Tradition. Maybe kids of other people’s families enjoy getting their picture taken on the lap of a stranger dressed like Santa, but not mine. Many of our kids can only keep it together in public for a little while, so make sure you are not overtaxing them or asking something of them that is just too overwhelming or distressing.
Lower Expectations: Don’t expect your holiday season or your children to be perfect. I don’t know about you and yours, but my kids don’t smile or say all the right things on demand. For kids with a mental health issue or developmental disability, social niceties just don’t happen spontaneously. For my son with autism, being around a lot of people at the holidays was very stressful. He did not enjoy opening gifts for a number of years. Even now, he sometimes disappoints a relative by not showing the type of response to a gift that might be typical. There could be hurt feelings . On top of this, some relatives might make negative comments or judgments about the type of parents we were. This is why it’s extremely important to develop a THICK SKIN. You need to be able let some of these comments or observations just roll off your back. They don’t live in your shoes and have no idea what works or doesn’t work with your kids. You know best what your kids need to feel loved and supported.
Ultimately, the best way to survive the holidays is to take care of yourself and your family. The rest will fall into place.