Friday, December 10, 2010

Avoiding The Holiday Meltdowns

Routine driven – obsessive compulsive – anal retentive…

Because my life and my family’s life is so dependent on routines, those adjectives are always applied to me. I don’t really mind because I have found over the last 15 or so years that predictable routines do help my children with special needs cope.

We get up at the same time each day. Breakfast, though not the same thing each day, does follow a predictable rotation. We follow a strict dinner, bath time and bed time schedule. We even run weekend errands at the same time each Saturday.

It works because it’s predictable – because there aren’t too many surprises for my children.

It works – except when it doesn’t. And the holidays are one of those times when it doesn’t. It’s very difficult to adhere to our routines when there are Christmas parties to attend, shopping to complete, and visits from relatives and friends. So, what do I do to make sure that the meltdowns are kept to a minimum when the unexpected becomes commonplace?

I try to insert some of the unexpected during other times of the year. I try to explain and give warnings about holiday events and how our routines may change. I try to find some extra downtime when events consume a large part of our days.

And so far, I have been pretty successful.

Ashley, the child most affected by a change in the predictable, has learned to find a quiet place and spend some time alone if her environment is getting too crazy. And with her, I try very hard to make sure she stays healthy during the holiday. Nothing makes an unpredictable routine even more difficult than being sick at the same time.

I feel like I need more tools in my toolbox though. What do you do with your children during the holidays to keep their stress levels manageable? Please share!


Dark Angel said...

I find that having one specific routine thing that can stay constant throughout holidays makes it a lot easier to deal with all the upheaval. It works like an anchor; I know that however unpredictable things are, I'll still have that one familiar thing to hold on to.

Ashley's Mom said...

Dark Angel, GREAT idea. Thankyou!

dluvscoke said...

I agree with Dark Angel. Hold on to whatever little bit of routine is still normal.

I try to look ahead and give my son (autism)as much notice as possible. Even if it's only a few hours. He's 29 now and definately deals with change a lot better than he used to.