Oh my, what's better than four kids harmoniously decorating a Christmas tree the day after Thanksgiving? I can't think of much. But while that is what this photo LOOKS like, it is far from truth. They bicker over what ornament goes where, who's turn it is, who gets to put up the star (I keep a list, so really there isn't a question), and so much more. Couple all that with the fact that since we're in a new house, the dog goes everywhere we would put a tree so Will couldn't put his fragile ornaments on a tree for fear the dog would knock them off. The dog, while wild, is actually pretty good and leaves the trees alone. Will didn't NEED to worry. But he did. So his fragile things are on the half wall instead of the tree. He's happy. I'm not arguing with him.
So, how do we survive the most wonderful time of the year?! I have no idea. But here are some of the things we have in place to help everyone feel a bit happier.
I expect the kids to be out of sorts and struggle to regulate. I expect to need to take breaks and regroup. I expect for things to fall apart and people to meltdown (including me). If I expect them to keep it together through all the events and presents and parties (not so much during Covid), I will be more frustrated when they are who they are and they struggle. It isn't fair to them to expect that all the upheaval of the holidays have no effect on them. So, I expect they will struggle and am ready when they do. They will. So I stay ready.
Along with low expectations, I make sure I am thoroughly communicating the plans with my kids everyday. When things change I tell them. When they don't, I tell them. The calendars stay up to date...not that there is anything on them this year. I open the door for them to communicate with me too. I check in often and listen.
SO many deep breaths. Even with communication and low expectations, the kids still struggle more during these months than any other time. So I have more difficulties to manage. I have to help them regulate more frequently. It is ok for you to meltdown too. Give yourself (and them) grace. And take deep breath and shed a few tears together. I did today.
Spread out the events/presents
Last year we started spreading out presents and giving one per week leading up to Christmas. It went so well, we're keeping it. The kids preferred enjoying all their gifts over time rather than feeling rushed to move to the next thing (they don't get that much, but it was still overwhelming). Prior to Covid, we spread out events too. We hosted a party (allergy friendly), attended Christmas Eve services, and drove around looking at lights. We may have had another thing or two in there too. We made sure to spread things out though so the kids didn't get overwhelmed.
This is so important. My kids thrive on routine. Disrupting it for a month of extravagance is not good. We keep school going most day. We keep going to the farm. We keep typical bedtimes and wake up times. Our weekends are largely the same. It might sound boring but with all the other holidaying, it is just fine.
Or tea. Or wine. Or some CBD. Whatever helps you feel calmer. This is so you take time for YOU. Without recharging, there is absolutely no way we can accomplish special needs parenting during the holidays much less during a pandemic. So, sit back, swig your favorite calm down juice, and binge watch made for TV Christmas movies on your favorite streaming service.
You CAN do this. And if you need some support, a shoulder, somewhere safe to vent, hop over to the forum or shoot me a message. Judgement free support and companionship is what we're all about.
I mean, just look at those joyous faces!!