As we take steps further and further into parenting a child with extra needs, we are quickly learning to embrace the unexpected. Because, honestly, no matter how much you plan (and trust me if it is possible to be planned, I will try to plan it), the unexpected happens. We are trying to remember it is how WE as parents handle it that sets the tone for how those unexpected moments will go. It is really easy to take things personally when your kids step out of lines of the little box of perfection we’ve placed them in. But ultimately we are the adult and it is up to us to show our kids how to handle things. If we can’t accept and embrace, how can we expect them to?
The holidays seem to set the bar even higher, so there is a lot of pressure. However, I have been learning and accepting that the pressure is avoidable and we put it on ourselves. If we feel pressure how do you think our kids feel? So this holiday season, let’s embrace the unexpected and learn to take that pressure off and truly enjoy our holidays.
How We’re Removing Pressure & Expectation from the Holiday Season:
- Allowing ourselves to say no. We do not have to accept every invitation and we most certainly do not need to feel guilty for saying no. If I have learned one thing from my son, it is that I need to be his compass and understand how much he can and can’t handle. All kids need us to do this for them.
- Be as prepared as you can. Some ways we do this are by: feeding the kids a good protein-packed snack before we go somewhere (kids never eat as well when there is a lot going on), bring snacks if you don’t want them loading up on the goodies there, check and double check your diaper bag/car for supplies, add water bottles to be on hand, and anything else your individual kids may need.
- Allow yourself and your kids to take a break. We can tell when H needs a break because he starts to lose his ability to control himself. Whether that be through excitement or emotion, he needs us to remove him and regroup. I’ve recently started carrying around some “calm down things” in my bag, but honestly just sitting and reading a book away from everyone is usually enough.
- WHEN the chaos and unexpected happens (and it will, no matter how much you prepare) roll with it. Just take a second and regroup and keep going. If you let it rule you, it will. If you remember you have the control in how you act and thus how your kids act, you have the power to handle it.
- Don’t beat yourself up. I often find myself thinking back to moments and saying, “I wish I would have…” Can you relate? It’s okay, we are always able to see clearer after we are out of the emotional rollercoaster of the moment. I just remind myself, “Bad moments do not make bad moms. Learn from this moment and remember it for next time.”
More Ways to Help Kids Process and Enjoy the Holiday Season:
- Give your kids as much notice as possible. Walk them through how everything will go as best as you can.
- Role play with them. If you have a feeling certain things may come up, try and talk them through situations
- Try and plan your downtime around when you know you’ll be busy. If you know you have a busy afternoon, try and give everyone time to chill that morning and vice versa.
- Plan movement before and after (even during) an event. Give their little bodies a chance to regroup and release. We find making sure our kids sensory needs (whether they have SPD or not) really helps them to handle things. Every kid can benefit from some heavy work to recenter their little body.
I hope I leave you feeling empowered and ready to enjoy this holiday season! Try and remember to control what you can and let go of what you can’t!