It seems Christmas is getting earlier and earlier each year. Stores have items and advertisements out even before Halloween has finished. I love Christmas and the busyness it brings. Baking cookies, spending time family, sending and receiving Christmas cards all add to the excitement for me. Unfortunately, not everyone in our household shares those same fuzzy feelings and excitement. So I have to be mindful of the little people that it affects.
Our oldest came home to us on a holiday, inadvertently creating stress when holidays come about. The feelings of non-permanency or a change creep into our holiday joy.
Also having children diagnosed with FASD, the whole idea of “being good” and staying off the “naughty list” can be a very real fear. Anxieties skyrocket because they end up feeling more out of control. The harder they try to be on the nice list, the more unfavorable behaviors are created.
Their brains get overloaded and can’t cope with the extra added pressure. Then, in turn, act more impulsively and out of control. Self-esteem goes down because they can’t live up to the expectation of holding it together to make it on that list and leaving them feeling defeated.
So how exactly, in our home, do we survive the hype and anxiety the season brings.
We try to keep to the same routine no matter the season. Consistency and predictability are the keys to survival for our guys. We know our own children and what they can and can’t handle and quickly get reminded if we forget.
Change the Focus
Instead of focusing on being good for Santa and getting on that list, we try to focus our attention on others. Christmas is a time for giving and sharing. Visiting with family members, making items/crafts to give to others, putting care packages together for those who don’t have as much are a few things that we do. I find that focusing on this curves the attention from the all about me pressure and gives them a bit of excitement on what they can do for others.
Elf on the Shelf
Yes, we have this little critter from the North Pole and No Jingle does not play tricks on the family. There are no “naughty” events that happen while we are all sleeping. He does move around (more like hide and seek) and leaves notes on occasion noticing the things that went well in our day.
We proudly display the homemade decorations that our children have made. Making them together is a great family activity and they are excited to share their creations with others. Grandparents always love to get their gifts made with love.
If this affects your children, which it does at times with mine, choose the more calm Christmas Carols or no Christmas music at all. There are many lovely Christmas renditions that promote a more serene atmosphere, we frequently listen to those.
We celebrate with Santa, but don’t make a huge deal of it. They each get a stocking and one modest gift from the jolly fella and that’s about it. The other presents are all from us and our extended family. We set a time and usually prebook to go and see him. Prebooking also cuts down the wait time in the line and we can prepare for our visit. My children usually make him a small decoration or card and bring it with them.
Whenever possible, we talk with the children when things are going to change or if we have some fun event come up. In turn, we also may not tell them if we know that the lead up to the event will cause too much disruption. We usually play this by ear and is really dependent on the child. One likes to know everything that’s coming up and another doesn’t like to know at all until the event is happening.
I wish you all a lovely holiday season. I love to hear from my readers, either by a comment below or an email. How do you survive the holiday season, what tips and tricks have you found that have helped in your home?