The holidays are a wonderful time of year. Bright lights, holiday music, gift exchanges, and time spent with loved ones all come together to create lifelong childhood memories. We also understand that this time of year can be full of somewhat stressful planning. However, not everyone struggles the same.
Parents with special needs children may struggle with certain stressors that are unique to their family. When it comes to managing the holidays with a child with special needs, here are some ways to help keep your routine while making this time a happy, memorable experience for everyone.
Maintain Routines as Much as Possible
During the holidays, it’s understandable that there will be some adjustments in your family’s everyday routines. Depending on what special needs your child has, it’s important to remember that they may struggle with all the changes hitting them at once. This may cause them to feel disorganized or overwhelmed, resulting in meltdowns that are common for all children.
As much as possible, try to maintain the everyday routines that your child is used to. Foster physical and emotional regulation by talking to them about what to expect in the upcoming hours, days, or weeks so that they feel less overwhelmed about the unknown.
Prep the Family
If you are spending the holidays at a home of a relative who isn’t around your immediate family often, it may be a good idea to talk to them about what to expect and what to avoid around your special needs child. This can avoid any potential hurt feelings and ensure that your child feels secure and safe in the new environment instead of overwhelmed.
You may also want to prepare a safe place for your child to be by themselves with a familiar object or comfort, such as a toy, stuffed animal, or television program. Give your child permission to walk away from the crowd if they need their own space.
Be Gentle With Yourself and Your Child
You just want what’s best for your family and to make this holiday season a special one, so it’s normal to feel overwhelmed or frustrated when your special needs child struggles to find joy in the moment. It’s important to remember that a compassionate approach is always the best way to go.
Know that your child may be struggling just as much as you are, so don’t be so hard on yourself. It’s not their fault or yours. While you can’t change the expectations or feelings of other people, you can change your own. Even if the holiday isn’t “perfect,” remember that it doesn’t have to be perfect to be a memorable, special time for you and your entire family.
If you would like to learn more about your legal options following a birth injury to your child or you would like to speak with our legal team for free, contact Angel Law at (503) 862-8666 at your earliest convenience. We offer no-fee, no-obligation consultations and answer our phones 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.