Lynne Edwards, LCSW, from Coordinators2, the post-adoption support agency which provides an array of services to my family and other adoptive families, suggests the following hints for a reduced stress holiday. I don’t know about you, but reducing stress is always welcome in my world! Thanks, Lynne!
- If this is your first holiday with your children, they may
need an explanation of the holiday rituals, what they can expect and what you expect of them.
- Remember that holidays sometimes provoke thoughts about birth
families and other past caregivers. So before the holiday, talk with
your children about this. You could either share a variation
of "I've been thinking about….and I wonder if you have" or ask what's on their mind as the holiday approaches.
- Help your children find ways to include members of their past
families that they miss into holiday activities. They could include
them in their prayers, write a poem, draw a picture or make an
ornament or other decoration in honor of someone special to them.
You can also create some new family rituals that include the memory of past family or caregivers.
- If you or the children feel sad or need to cry, go ahead and
do it. Watch a sappy movie together, give few extra hugs or just sit and listen.
- Build in physical exercise for you and the children. Take a
walk to enjoy the change in seasons or holiday decorations. Play a
game outside or, if the children are old enough, encourage them to
play an active game outside.
- If spirituality plays a role in your family, emphasize the
spiritual aspects of the holiday. And plan ways to observe these and teach the children about them. If your children are from a different race or culture, be sure to share if and how the holiday plays a role in their culture/country of origin. Add to your family rituals by incorporating some of theirs.
- Provide opportunities for the children to give of their time
and themselves. Encourage them to make gifts for friend and family, to volunteer with you in the community or donate clothes or toys to others.
- Keep the holiday as low key as possible. If you are spending time with several different people, try to spread the contact out over a few days. Having two holiday celebrations on two consecutive
days can work.
- Set realistic limits for spending and stick to them. Even if your children haven't had much in the past, don't go overboard-keep it simple.
- Remember the holidays are stressful for everyone in the family. Give yourself a break and do something relaxing.
- Have fun!