Tips to survive the crazy festive season…

Tips to survive the crazy festive season...

Our child mostly lives in a bubble. A see-through bubble, sure, but one that protects her from much of her surroundings. Or in theory that’s how we’d like it to work.

Like another ASD blogger, Jane from Almost Jane, wrote recently, we spend much of our time trying to stop the impact of anxiety on our child, before it happens. We protect, we cushion, we try and prepare and anticipate all possible outcomes. We minimise the opportunities for stress on our child, often inducing huge amounts of it on ourselves.

It’s like trying to predict the weather, in Melbourne, a year in advance. Impossible. And guaranteed, it will be the ONE thing you don’t think of that will end up popping the bubble.

It’s the time of year, when all our best laid plans go out the window. There’s family events, catch ups with friends, end of year break-ups, change that we simply can’t stop because it marks the passing of another year. A tree comes into the house, traditions alter our normal behaviours and expectations of socialising are at an all time high.

Even things that we would normally try to minimise, such as trips to the shops, are now almost unavoidable and more stressful than ever, jostling for space with thousands of other shoppers.

And once you’re there, don’t even talk about the flashing lights, the decorations, the music… I don’t have sensory processing disorder, but after a morning in the city, I feel like climbing into a cave and not coming out until after Easter.

With all this in mind, I thought I’d jot down a few tips on how we survive the crazy festive season…

  • Lower your expectations. There I said it. Stop expecting your kid will sit on Santa’s knee, want to hang the baubles on the tree and love every Christmas catch up with friends. Even with the world’s best social story, it may not happen. If you expect a little, you’ll likely be rewarded with a lot.
  • You can say no. This idea that we ‘need to catch up before Christmas’ is such a false deadline. It’s fine to push back and arrange things for early in the new year, or you know, not at all. Don’t feel pressured into doing a million social activities just because the big man in red is on his way.
  • Prep the family. It’s the time of year when you’re likely to see relatives you don’t see often, and it’s even more likely there will be at least one that doesn’t ‘get’ your kid. Set some ground rules for them, explain you’ll be needing to leave early, or come late, or that your child might need a quiet space and doesn’t want to be kissed by Aunty Maureen. Do this in an email before you arrive, or get a trusted relative on the case, so there is no issues when you get there.
  • Compromise is key. We just did the Christmas windows and Santa with Poss. I really wanted to line up and wait, she did not. So we didn’t. Instead we went to look at Minecraft Lego. It wasn’t my idea of fun, but the pay off was that she was then ok to do the Santa picture. So a bit of compromise, and we both felt like winners.
  • Be prepared. Pack yourself a little survival kit… some chew and fidget toys, a favourite snack and a drink bottle from home. Write your number on your child’s wrist with permanent marker if you’re hitting the shops (or invest in a GPS tracker which we just did – amazing peace of mind!).

Finally, trust your gut. It’s your family and your child; they have to come first. So if they’re not coping, you can leave. It’s ok. I give you permission (not that you need it) to just take them out of the environment. Everyone will just have to get over it.

Oh and wine. Wine is ok. For you, not the kids, obviously. So is cancelling everything and just calling it a doona day.

What have I missed? How do you make sure that you all don’t lose your mind at this time of year?

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  1. Some great tips, thanks!!!
    Can you tell me more about your GPS Tracker, sounds really interesting?


  2. workingwomenaus says:

    Cancelling everything and calling a doona day is EXCELLENT advice. I think I might do that tomorrow 🙂

  3. Perfect timing…as always. Today we missed a family get together as I knew it just wasn’t going to go well. Obviously I was given the “I wish you wouldn’t comtinue to indulge Her moods” chat. But I felt strong in my decision and am realising it’s ok to not explain why for the nth time you’re missing a catch up. My family … My decision.

    • Big hugs Gillian – we get that too. A certain member of my family has gone so far as to define “doing a Caz” meaning won’t be attending. And these are “family”….hmmm!

  4. I did Myer Santa with bug this year but had to skip the windows. We got outside and the noise was so loud everything started shutting down. Lots of yelling and pawing at my face and begging him can we please leave. It was bad. Had to work our way back to the car by feel, my hearing completely shut down and I couldn’t understand even yelled words, and my vision was stuck at one distance and couldn’t see closer or further in focus.
    It’s such a tradition I didn’t want him to miss it in case his friends all talk about it. He wasn’t much interested though so next year going to pass.

  5. I think you’ve nailed it Renee, it really does not concern anyone else how we deal with the festive season.
    So far, we have no decorations and no Santa visit. We do have exciting advent calendars and M has a Christmas party at school and one at her dancing class.
    The decorations will go up next week, and if she doesn’t get to see Santa, she still knows he’ll be visiting when she’s asleep (please god let her be asleep!)

    So we’ll do it our way and it will be fine 🙂
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