Caroline Pringle, Families and Professionals Advisor (Child Enquiries), shares some top tips for the festive season
We have shared our Christmas tips over the years but due to the pandemic with different tiers and a bubble of three families over the festive time, this year may be very different for you all. Children might have anticipated seeing their extended family and possibly decisions have been made to stay at home and just have immediate family together. However, I am sure your Christmas will be a very exciting time, full of decorations, flashing lights, and a lot of noise!
For some children, the restriction on festive activities at school at the end of term might have reduced their stress levels but any changes can be overwhelming or challenging.
We would still like to share with you some strategies that members have used over the years and found helps them. We hope these will enable you to manage the festive season however you celebrate this year!
Maintaining a routine: it can be helpful to maintain consistency through the Christmas period by keeping key aspects of the normal routine the same, such as the times of meals, or the routines for getting ready in the morning.
Visual schedules: Using a calendar or a visual timetable to prepare your child for Christmas day can be really helpful. Though, knowing the individual in this case is important, because for some children highlighting the day and the build-up can lead to high levels of anxiety or over-excitement. We can help you to put these together! Contact Caroline (email@example.com 01371 875100).
Preparing for guests: If you are having guests over during Christmas, try making a calendar which shows their photos and names to let your child know when they are coming and going.
Introducing decorations: Sometimes the new and different decorations can be a bit of a shock. Think about decorating gradually and try to involve your child in changes to the house e.g., let them handle decorations or help to decorate the tree in stages.
Managing visits: If you are visiting family or friends in your bubble, this could well be a home they are familiar with. However, try to be the first to arrive, or first to go into a room so your child doesn’t have to enter and feel overwhelmed.
Spread presents out: A big pile of presents may be overwhelming, so introducing presents one by one can help to make it more manageable. Some people may also find it easier if the presents are not wrapped, to reduce the anticipation of waiting to find what is inside. It may also help to encourage to child to include realistic gifts on their Christmas list, to avoid any disappointment.
Christmas dinner: Dinner time can be stressful, so think about giving the option of eating before or after everyone else. It can also be good to ensure not too much food is on your child’s plate. This can help with sickness too, which can happen when people get over-anxious or excited.
Having a focus: Giving your child a ‘job’, such as giving out the Christmas presents or collecting wrapping paper, can help to provide a focus.
Time-out: Make sure that there are opportunities for quiet-time, or ‘Christmas-free-time’. This can involve pre-planning a nap or some relaxing time during the day, especially around times which might be stressful, like when others are opening presents. Also making sure that there is a quiet place available that your child can go to (or be guided to) for some space during the day if things become too much. Try doing something that your child finds calming, such as listening to music or watching a favourite DVD.
Is there anything else that has worked for you or your family? Let us know your experiences and we will update our list!