Shopping. Trimming the tree. Family get-togethers. Santa. Is this what the holidays are all about? The holidays can be a bit stressful even within traditional settings, but some families are navigating within a blended structure. Some are single parent led and other families have kids with special needs.
But don’t let your challenges dampen the joy that you and your child should experience during the holidays. Here are a few tips, some from a special needs family that actually work well within any household.
Simplify Your Schedule:
First, prepare a simple schedule so your child or grandchild knows when to expect the next event. This will help your children remain calm and reduce anxiety even when the noise levels increase. Don’t forget to take breaks throughout the day so your child doesn’t feel overwhelmed. Even if your children are grown, they are not too old to get an informal notice of what you have planned.
Keep Realistic Expectations:
Next, make sure you lay out expectations before each and every event, like a family meeting, by letting them know how long you plan to stay and how they are expected to behave. Always bring a change of soft clothes when your child has to dress up to prevent meltdowns and keep them comfortable. Know your strengths and weaknesses. The holidays are probably not the time to roll out new recipes unless you’re a pro.
We just had a contentious election. Many families, especially big ones, have people on different sides of the issues. This should be a time for peace, not for debates or hurt feelings. If possible, keep this holiday a politically-free environment.
Get Your Kids Involved:
Keep holiday décor simple to allow your child to adjust easily to the changing surroundings. Let them help you decorate around the home so they are part of the change. Stay on track and plan alternatives for your children so they can participate in holiday snacks if they have food dislikes or allergies.
Show your children the joy they can feel from giving back to others. Make cookies for an elderly neighbor, donate to children in need, decorate cards for people in the military, or serve meals at a shelter. Your children can see the results of their hard work and the difference it makes in others’ lives. It can help them to see things from a new perspective and be more grateful for what they have.
Dads, with these few tips you can make your holidays with your loved ones much more enjoyable. The holidays are meant to be a time to be thankful for all things, even the challenges life throws your way. Simplicity and realistic expectations make for a good start. And, of course, giving back helps take focus off our own worries and busy schedules. It’s a lot easier to focus on the birth of Jesus and what He did for us when our hearts are content and we are not frantic. Blessings!