Christmas can be an odd time of year when you’ve got SEN kids, the images of happy faces gleefully tearing at wrapping paper then squealing with delight at the presents inside and running off to go and play with their new toy can vanish in a cloud of disappointment when you realise your child is not remotely interested. You try to cajole them into *enjoying* themselves but it becomes painfully obvious that’s not going to happen and a meltdown occurs.. then the kids have one too..
That’s what our early Christmases were like, gifts would stay under Sir’s bed gathering dust for at least 12 months when, suddenly one or two of them would be the Best Thing Ever. He still does that, mainly because we have to guess at what he’d like, until this year he’s never been that bothered by a visit to Toys R Us.
The thing we learned was to go with the flow to a degree but keep a sense of order at the same time as it’s so easy for the kids to get overwhelmed. Bright lights, pretty paper, the excitement of Santa visiting is a cocktail for a meltdown.
Here are some of things or maybe traditions is a better word that we keep to in our house:
We don’t do Elves on Shelves… Sir would probably freak and Madam would mither over it.. or maybe they wouldn’t but I don’t want to find out.. I do think the Adult ones are funny though..
We do do Christmas Eve bags, the kids had one last year and they loved it! so this year Hubby and I are having one too 😀
We still put out a mince pie and a glass of squash for Santa, Rudolph gets a carrot and a bowl of water.
Presents are spread out over the whole day. Santa presents (in sacks and stockings) are opened first thing Christmas Day whilst Hubby and I have a cuppa and one of us tries to take a few sneaky photos of the kids. Then we have breakfast, after which we open the family presents under the tree. If Grandparents are visiting later in the day, we save theirs for then. In fact it’s not unusual for us to keep some for Boxing Day if it’s all getting too much.
If the kids want to go off to their rooms/the conservatory/generally out of the way, we let them. Both my parents and Hubby’s understand that Sir needs his space. I think these days, the notion of everyone sitting together, watching a film or playing games is fading, especially for those of us with older kids. Even the adults will spread themselves throughout the house and that’s fine with me.
Get dinner for as close to either *normal* lunchtime or dinnertime as possible, eating at 3pm is not happening in our house. I’m planning for a 1:30pm dinner, with starters served at 1pm. Last year there was just the four of us and we had dinner at 5:30pm. It stops meltdowns over the fact that they think it’s time to eat and there’s no food being cooked. Whilst Sir loves a roast dinner, Madam is not so keen, but she loves pigs in blankets so she can have them with veg and she’ll be happy! If it’s a choice between chicken nuggets and a happy kid or trying to make them eat a dinner and a meltdown.. well pick your battles wisely I say.
This year I have ordered my own body weight (maybe that’s an exaggeration) in batteries of various shapes, voltages and descriptions. Never, ever run out of batteries..
Unrelated to that I also have pads, wipes, and nappy bags by the bucket load. It would not do to run out.
The kids end up with a mountain of chocolate each year that Sir won’t eat and Madam ends up having. Not this year. Sir will be having crisps wrapped up and maybe even a tube of Pringles. There will be *family sweets* for everyone to share.
When the kids have gone to bed and the guests have left, you should pour yourself a large glass of something, settle on the sofa with your other half, watch crap Christmas TV or listen to music and give yourselves time to relax, It’s your Christmas Day too and we do tend to forget that. Maybe save a small present to open then.
Sir has only really got into Christmas over the past couple of years, last time was the first one where he had been genuinely excited. On Boxing Day we even managed to have a family game of Hungry Hippos, it was wonderful. So if you have young kids who don’t seem interested, don’t want to play, please don’t worry or stress. I know it’s easy for me to say, but I’ve been there and done it. It might take ten years or maybe more or maybe less but one Christmas you’ll see a bit of light and it’ll make it all worth while.
I don’t know if any of this applies to or will work for your children, but it’s what works in our house and if some of it helps a little bit then all to the good 🙂