Do – prepare and brief your relatives
Your rellies may really want to help but they just may not know how. Brief them by phone or email and make sure they know what are ideal gifts, what not to buy, are there any activities that might cause a meltdown for your child, if there are any diet restrictions or anything else they should look out for.
Do – prepare your child
Create a storyboard or visual schedule in a way that works for your child. Work through this in the month beforehand, so when the day arrives, they will know exactly what is going to happen. Let them know that days may be different to how they are usually, especially if you’re staying at a family or friend’s place. If you’re away, take some items that your child is familiar with like a DVD, special pillow or toy so that they have some home comforts if they’re feeling out of sorts.
Don’t – worry about expensive gifts for your child
The best gift doesn’t need to be the latest must-have toy with all the bells and whistles that will most likely be forgotten by the time Boxing Day is over. Think about your child and what they love; for some it might be a plastic container with ping pong balls inside, a sensory chew necklace or a plain old box wrapped up. Get creative and give them something they’ll treasure.
Don’t – try too hard!
The tree doesn’t have to be Pinterest perfect, the presents don’t need to be wrapped with beautiful creative bows and the day doesn’t have to run with military precision. For most people, Christmas isabout bringing family together to rejoice and enjoy the day. Relax and let the day unfold naturally – if little things do go wrong, just roll with it, remember flawed is good and so much more fun!
Do – get creative with shopping
Let’s be honest – does anyone enjoy shopping with their kids? The Christmas period is not the time to put on a brave face and tough it out – that’s why online shopping was invented. If you can’t face the delivery costs or unknown delivery times then consider if you can leave your child with someone or if you have no option but to take your child with you then perhaps try to shop in short sharp bursts rather than a three hour trek around the mall that is sure to end in tears (everyone’s!).
Don’t – stress about what your child eats
Obviously if your child is on a special diet then this doesn’t apply but otherwise don’t get too stressed out if your child won’t eat the full spread in front of them. Christmas day is not the time to be fighting food battles or worrying about nutrition. If you’re at home, let them have some familiar foods on their plate and perhaps take a few things with you if you’re visiting. Fidget toys or a book or two may help them sit at the table while you eat or if your child is able, having them be a helper (lay the table, handing out bonbons) may help them to be engaged with the meal time proceedings.
Do – get some help
Whether it’s in the run up to the big day or Christmas day itself you don’t have to do everything yourself – reach out to family and friends if you can. Over the holidays people are often especially eager to come to your aid – they just need to know what they can do, even if it’s as simple as keeping a sibling entertained or your champagne glass topped up!
If you have NDIS funds perhaps you can schedule some extra support worker time over the holiday period? Your child can get some fun time out in the community while you tackle your to-do list.
Don’t – be afraid to say no
If your child is struggling and you know that an event will be a step too far, do what is right for you and your family, not what you think is the best for others. People who really care about you won’t be offended. Take a look at the seasonal schedule and work out which events and activities work best for your family – try to save some space for down time and regulation. Do what makes your child happy and make some memories that they’ll cherish forever.
Do – find some time for you
Whether it’s a glass (or two) of wine, some leftover pavlova or simply cuddling up with a festive film when the rellies have gone and the kids are in bed – make sure you take some time for yourself on Christmas Day. Ignore the mess – it’ll be there tomorrow.
Don’t – forget to count your blessings
It’s too easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of the Christmas season so make sure you take some time to look around and take stock of everything you have around you. When all the presents have been opened remember that our children are our greatest gifts. Life is never perfect and that’s what makes it beautiful.