This post is part of the 2018 Homeschooling Through the Holidays series.
The holiday season is a time for family, friends, traditions, and fun, but when special needs are thrown in the mix it can also mean extra stress. For children who have a difficult time with transitions, sensory input, and being flexible, all the hubbub surrounding the holidays can seem like a nightmare. Here are some simple ways that you can ensure that the holiday season is a fun time for everyone in your family.
Don’t Try To Do It All
We have a tendency to want to “maximize” our holiday time by doing everything we can find on Pinterest, attend every party we are invited too, and carol to every person’s house that we know. Slow down! You don’t have to do everything there is in order to have a great holiday season. Pick what is most important to your family, and don’t feel guilty about not doing the rest of it. Your perfect holiday doesn’t have to look like anybody else’s.
Have Solid Traditions
Children with special needs often grasp onto what is routine and predictable. Creating holiday traditions that they can look forward to every year and that never change can give them some stability amid all the things that are different from most other days. Traditions can include certain foods that you make and eat together, crafts that you make, music you listen to, how you decorate your house, or who you spend time with. They don’t have to be big or elaborate (it is probably better if they are not) to be effective. Focus on things your child loves to do to help them feel more comfortable.
Set Realistic Expectations
Sometimes our vision for the holiday season is not realistic for our families. When deciding what you are going to incorporate into your family’s plan, weigh it carefully. Take into consideration what the days around that activity are going to be like, other activities planned for that day, and how receptive your child will be to the activity. In our perfect worlds, we have smiling pictures at every activity we want to do, but sometimes in reality a quiet evening at home might be better and happier. You might want to consider hosting activities at your house so your child feels more comfortable in a familiar setting. You might want to have some of the family go to an activity while some stay home. You might want to do an alternate activity for just your family.
Focus On What Is Most Important
Focus on what is most important with your family. For most people that is spending quality time together as a family. If you set your goal beforehand of what you want to accomplish (spending more time together, increasing faith and gratitude, serving others, etc.), that will make it much easier to decide what activities and events fit into your goal and what is okay to not do. It depends on your specific family, but you can have a happy holiday season no matter what your situation is like at home.