It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year… Or Is It?
Many say that “It’s the most wonderful time of the year”, however, with this ‘wonderful time’ comes irregular schedules, large family gatherings, travel, unfamiliar food, interrupted sleep patterns and other unexpected events.
Tips for Maintaining Sanity throughout the Holiday Season
Through it all, Mom and Dad are expected to keep their sanity by remaining calm and happy.
Though I am hardly an expert in this area, it has always struck me as somewhat ironic that we all look forward to the holiday season, as it can be extremely challenging, especially for those of us with special needs persons in our family.
Are you up for having a great holiday season? Note that I did not say a ‘stress-free holiday season’! It is true that many changes at once do cause stress, and if handled with forethought, these challenges can be dealt with thoughtfully, and they can result in positive outcomes! In addition, you will be teaching your children how to be flexible problem solvers.
1. Expectations – Be sure your children (special needs and typical) know what is expected.
- Have a calendar (visual) which has events listed. Start now.
- Talk about your plans at least one day in advance.
- Begin talking about which relatives will be visiting (e.g., Grandma).
- Help children think about what Grandma might like to eat, play, or talk about. For example: if your child talks about video games, think about whether or not Grandma would want to talk about that.
2. Plan ahead – and then expect the unexpected. For example: the plan is to go see Santa on Thursday. The family has been looking forward to this event for weeks. You wake up and one of the children has a high fever. What are some ways you can solve this problem. Enroll the children by coming up with solutions and then help them to choose the best one.
3. Communicate with Family – Let the extended family members know what your child might need to do to be comfortable. This might mean staying at a family dinner for a shorter length of time, leaving the group to seek a quiet place, eating specially prepared foods or shifting a recipe to include him/her.
4. Stay Home – Embrace the idea that staying home and enjoying free time together is a good thing to do. Sometimes we feel that we must be running somewhere every day. Being home after a busy week can be nourishing to the soul. Schedule some ‘home time’ into your plan.
5. Incorporate movement – into each day. Let one of your children choose, and lead, a family exercise each day. This can be as complex as having a family yoga class or as simple as doing 10 jumping jacks together. Any type of ‘working together’ builds happy memories and feelings of being‘part of a group’.
The reality is that the holidays are coming. You can’t stop that! Your gift to your family is to choose to create the peaceful times together that will stay in your memories for many years to come! Let this holiday be the one! Happy Holidays!
Donna Wexler is a speech pathologist specializing in children with high functioning AS disorders. She is blessed with a physically and mentally challenged son and a husband who is blind. She will be traveling to her family in New York this season. Please send her positive thoughts of peace and tranquility. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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This post originally appeared on our November/December 2013 Magazine