Tag Archives: Christmas

#TASchat round-up – Surviving Christmas

Last week we held our monthly #TASchat on Twitter.CYMERA_20131211_155809 This month the theme was ‘Surviving Christmas’…

If you couldn’t make it, we’ve produced a handy round-up for you, which you can find here via Storify. There are some great tips on making it through Christmas, so be sure to take a look and maybe even make some notes.

Some of the top tips:

From @sares123
introduce changes gradually. Christmas fairy adds a little bit of Christmas everyday from 1st Dec”

From @fabwysiadfae
I always buy a present that he *knows* he’s going to get. He can’t cope with ‘surprises’ – even nice ones.

From @diggerdiaries
spread Xmas pressies over many days. Not all at once.”

If you’ve got any more tips to add, or comments to make, please do so below. Otherwise, we’ll see you in a few weeks for the next #TASchat on Thursday 10th December 9PM GMT.

Gift ideas for children who destroy their things

Last year on The Adoption Social I read a couple of posts about Christmas that were really useful.
One of those was sensory ideas for stocking fillers and I must admit that although I’d never adventreally thought my son had sensory issues, some of the ideas were really good for him. So this year I thought I’d make a contribution…this is my post of gift ideas for children who destroy their things. I know that sounds a bit depressing, but so many of our children don’t believe they are worthy, or rage so much that their toys and belongings get broken or ruined, these are ideas for inexpensive and useable gifts – things that are disposable. Some of these things are also good to promote bonding – activities intended for you to work together, get gentle touch and praise in, make eye contact and just spend time together (even if you get a bit messy!).

Playdoh and Plasticine
Spend as little or as much as you like on this one. A pot of playdoh, or even a 4 pack is inexpensive and can bulk out a stocking. Some of the bigger modelling sets cost more. These days there are Minions sets, My Little Pony sets and much more and although there is the ‘eek, not in the carpet again’ factor, it’s fun, the smell is comforting, there’s so much you can make and kids love it.
My two like a big blob of homemade dough (made with peppermint essence and silver glitter), a knife, fork and plate. Their imaginations turn it into so much more…

Plasticine is slightly firmer, and comes in strips. You can buy a small pack or a big bucket…

Craft packs and glue sticks
The good thing about these pre-cut shapes is that your child won’t need scissors! My son is OK with scissors, but I wouldn’t trust my destructive daughter with a pair. They would get squirrelled away and used to snip up clothes or hair. I especially love this website – Crafty Crocodiles – which sells so many different little bits, you’re sure to find something to suit your child.

Colouring books
So my boy will colour briefly – maybe half an hour at most. My daughter however will spend an hour or two with some good pens and pencils happily colouring away, pleased with herself when she stays in the lines. I sometimes join in, sometimes not. But these are gentle, quiet and good for downtime. A staple in your craft armoury.

Glass Paints
Save up some old empty jars, remove their labels and let the kids go mad with the glass paints. If you pop a little electrical tea light in, they make really sweet luminaries that you could even gift to other people.

Gelli-baff
Not necessarily good for children with sensory issues, but great fun for some. Just add to a bath of water and watch it firm up! Bizarre but fun. Supervision required obviously, or maybe an opportunity to bathe with your child and enjoy the weird sensation of a gooey bath!

Water crystals/jelly beads
These tiny packets are good stocking fillers. Just empty the contents into water and watch as they soak up the water. Give it a few hours and you’ll have a bowl of jelly beads to either play with (especially good in the garden or bath). Different colours available.

Have you got any other good ideas for children who need more disposable gifts? Please let us know in the comments…
Many thanks to Mandy for today’s guest post.  

 

Weekly Adoption Shout Out #WASO Week 98

Welcome to the final #WASO of the year.
Yes, the FINAL #WASO OF 2014.#WASO 98

As much as we love running The Adoption Social and especially The Weekly Adoption Shout Out, we’re now taking a break for a couple of weeks to recharge our batteries, spend time with our families and crack on with Christmas. We’ll still try to read your posts and share when we can, but we won’t be adding new #WASOs each week, instead this one will be live for a few weeks (from now until 4th January), so you can post multiple times if you like!

As well as being the last #WASO of the year, it’s also the last new post for a couple of weeks, as instead of sourcing guess posts, problems and reviews, we’ll be re-sharing some of our most popular posts of 2014. Do make sure you check back when you get a chance and read those you might have missed. If you want to contribute any posts of your own – please do still email them to us at theadoptionsocial@gmail.com and we’ll publish those as priority posts in the new year.

For now, go link up. No theme until January now. And finally, if we don’t catch up with you on Twitter, Facebook or in any other way, have a peaceful and calm Christmas. Love and best wishes to you and yours,

Vicki and Sarah x



Snap Happy – 1st Christmas

Today’s Snap Happy is from The Puffin Diaries.

1stxmas

I’ve been thinking about Christmas and this Christmas in particular, recently. This picture is of our very first Christmas together, such a special and exciting time for us.

For the last eight years we’ve spent Christmas at home, creating our seasonal traditions and all the little things we look forward to. This year we will be on a beach for Christmas day, the warm sunshine, soft sands and clear sea of the Caribbean will be our Christmas Day.

The boys keep asking me,

“What will Christmas be like this year?”

My honest response is “I don’t know”

I have been away at Christmas and to be truthful it didn’t really feel like Christmas day. That’s not saying I wasn’t having a glorious time, it’s just that it was different.

When I look at this picture it reminds me of the sheer delight we took in celebrating our first Christmas together.  The traditions we have, all started here. It has made me think that, although we are away some things must be continued.

Even though our tree will be small, we will still have one at home, if only to maintain the tradition of choosing a decoration to hang on the tree for birth mum and brother.

We will still be having the presents of pyjamas on Christmas Eve.

I will make sure that “Farmer Nismas” (Stigs name for the big man, started that first Christmas) will deliver his three presents to my boys for Christmas day.

And there will be the traditional beer left out for the Farmer and some magic reindeer food.

Other than that it will no doubt be fun in the pool and a bbq on the beach, it will be tough but I’ll try to get through it.

 

 

 

 

Something different for stockings

Christmas is coming. It might be around a couple of corners just yet, but many are starting their shopping and so we hope this post will give you a few ideas if you need them.

Of course our children have lists like most children and enjoy a whole range of traditional stocking fillers, but I thought I’d share a few ideas that you might not normally consider, but could sneak in without your child realising how useful and important they are…

Chewigem Dog Tags
This site offers necklaces and bangles in a variety of designs – this is a link for some great looking dog tags.

Tangles
These are available in different colours and sizes. This is just one link to a basic junior tangle.

Twist and lock blocks
My own son loves his twist and lock block. It’s one of those things that he can move around and fiddle with when he’s anxious or stressed. He also uses it when watching TV etc, rather than scratching or picking at his skin.

Stress balls
There are a whole host of stress balls on the market – there is a great selection here of different shapes – some to suit children, others plainer.

Recordable Thought Cloud
A great way of expressing a thought, record and playback your thought or emotion, and you can write it too on the wipeable surface.

Mohdoh
Scented play dough – using aromatherapy for different effects.

Massager
Create a nice calm time with a massager (which come in a range of shapes and sizes, from a range of suppliers). These are a good idea for children who can’t manage skin to skin contact, but still allow the relaxation of a massage.

Worry Eaters
My son doesn’t use his very much at the moment, but probably because he dislikes writing. The idea is that you write down a worry and the monster eats it. Fun for some, but not everyone’s bag.

Glitter Tubes
Regulate and calm whilst watching the glitter settle. You can make these yourself, but for a handy ready-made stocking filler this is perfect.

Superhero cape
What a great way to boost your child’s self esteem! Grab a personalised superhero cape and make them feel confident in their abilities.

Play tent
OK, so this one is a little large to be a stocking filler, but nevertheless, I’m including it as it’s a great gift (especially if they have a favourite character, as there are plenty of designs about) and creates a safe space or den for a child to hide/calm/scream in.

Sleepykids bath additive
A fun way to encourage calm, and therefore sleep.

Feelings Cards
We especially love these Todd Parr cards – hardwearing and durable, with opposite feelings on each card. A fun way to introduce emotions.

Hopefully these might give you a little inspiration with your Christmas shopping. I’d like to think that all of these items would be seen as fun, and not a therapy/special needs/disability aid. If they’re not seen as ‘special’ toys, then perhaps they might be used to better effect.

Have you got any other ideas? Add your own links in the comments section…

 

 

Creating down time during December

Today Vicki from The Boy’s Behaviour shares a tip for finding some calm time with younger children through December…

I want to start by saying yes, I know it’s a bit early to be thinking about Christmas, but this one requires a bit of organisation and time hence the little bit of notice. And I was in a shop yesterday that was playing Christmas music – if they can do it, then so can I!

Christmas can be a difficult time for our children – lack of routine (or certainly a change), excitement, difficulty regulating feelings, missing birth family, preparing for school plays, the pressure of being good so Santa visits, along with a whole host of other reasons.

I want to share something that we do in our house during December that acknowledges Christmas every day, whilst allowing us to take 15 minutes out of the hectic schedule to sit and connect with our children.
Lot of us read everyday with our children anyway both for school and bedtime stories; this activity can be done in place of a bedtime story if you like, however and whenever you choose. And if nothing else, it creates a traditions – and I found that making some of our own traditions, together, has been important.

Each year I wrap up 24 Christmas themed books – I try to buy around four to six new books each year so there is a surprise for the children, and this allows me to remove those that they’ve grown out of. I’ve also found charity shops are wonderful for finding new festive books.

I buy two packs of identical stickers, and put a sticker on each wrapped book, and then the corresponding sticker on a slip of paper in their refillable advent calendar.
The books sit in a box in the living room and the children take turns to find and open the book each day, then we sit and I read to the children.

When we pack the decorations away after Christmas, the books get packed too until the next year.

We’ve done this for 3 years in a row now and it’s a lovely way to spend time with the children but more importantly that 15 minutes of sitting together, calmly, quietly, cuddling and breathing slowly helps my children chill out.

I can’t tell you what books we have, because they’re still packed away, but here’s a list of some of our favourite Wintery books that you might like to use to create your own readable advent calendar…some suitable for the very young…some suitable for primary age children…

  • Stick Man by Julia Donaldson
  • The Night Before Christmas by Clement C. Moore
  • Father Christmas by Raymond Briggs
  • Father Christmas Goes On Holiday by Raymond Briggs
  • The Dinosaur That Pooped Christmas by Tom Fletcher and Dougie Poynter
  • A Very Crabby Christmas (Cat in the Hat/Dr Seuss)
  • Father Christmas Comes Up Trumps by Nicholas Allen
  • Father Christmas Needs a Wee by Nicholas Allen
  • Aliens Love Panta Claus by Claire Freedman
  • The Smelly Sprout by Allan Plenderleith 
  • The Silly Satsuma by Allan Plenderleith
  • The Santa Trap by Jonathan Emmett
  • How Santa Really Works by Alan Snow
  • Mr Men and the Night Before Christmas by Roger Hargreaves
  • The Empty Stocking by Richard Curtis
  • The Christmas Bear by Ian Whybrow
  • Santa is Coming To <Our Town> by Steve Smallman…perhaps you could find your town?
  • Zoe and Beans; Zoe’s Christmas List by Mick and Chloe Inkpen
  • The Christmas Show by Rebecca Patterson
  • The Very Snowy Christmas by Diana Hendry
  • How Many Sleeps Until Christmas by Mark Sperring
  • Dear Father Christmas by Alan Durant
  • The Jolly Christmas Postman by Janet Ahlberg
  • Dear Santa by Rod Campbell 

It doesn’t have to be an costly thing either. I popped into The Works today, and there were plenty of inexpensive Christmas books – quite a few in their 4 for £5 selection too. It just takes a little time to find a nice selection.

Do you have any favourite Christmas books or stories? What other things do you do to calm the Christmas chaos?

Festive Fun with PicMonkey

MerryXmasAs you know we like a little bit of creative fun here at The Adoption Social, and we really enjoy using the website PicMonkey to design images. It’s especially fun around special holidays, when there is always lots of new applications to try out.  An now there is a great new application on there site, which allows you to create designs without editing a photograph, like the image above.

Here I’ll show you how to access the Design tool and use it, and as a way of inspiring you all to have a go we’re going to run a little competition. You can win  Three months of Royale Membership for Pic Monkey, which gives you access to all the tools the site can offer.

All you have to do is design a festive image using any of the PicMonkey applications, and share it on twitter with the Hashtag #TASFestiveFun, or email us at Theadoptionsocial@gmail.com with your image and email title TAS Festive Fun.

We can only accept one image per person although all family members are allowed to enter, so maybe let the children have a go.

The closing date is Friday 3rd January 2014

We will announce the winner on Monday 6th January 2014

 

Using The Canvas Tool

First Select Design from the menu on the front page.

A selection of canvas sizes will appear on your screen, click on your choice.

Santapic4

Then you need to select the background colour of your canvas, this is done from the Canvas colour box which appears on the left side of the screen. 

santapic6

Now you are ready to add your overlays, which can be found under the snowflake icon, at the bottom left side of the screen.

Santapic7

There are two theme options Winterland or Santa Land, both are lots of fun.

So some have some fun, experiment and let your creative side shine. 

My children have loved using this tool, so here is one they made earlier. 

Christmas1

Or you could edit a photograph as I did.

Santa Sarah

And don’t forget to send us your images and you could be the winner of a three month Royale Pic Monkey Membership.

Coping with Christmas

Christmas affects us and our children in different ways.

For many, the change in routines at school, the excitement, the number of parties, anxieties about the school play add up and make it difficult for children to manage.
For others, birthdays, Christmas and other celebratory times can bring mixed emotions and feelings – with reminders about past times – good and bad.

As much as we try not to show it, as parents we get stressed about shopping for presents, managing money, inviting the relatives over and cooking that big turkey dinner.

And there are many more reasons for stress around this time.

We wanted to bring you a post that had some tips and advice and we’ve been collating these from our followers, readers and contributors. We recognise that not all of these will work for everyone. You know yourself and your children best, so pick and choose what you think will suit you…and if you have any tips of your own, please leave them in the comments for others to see.

Keep it low-key.  Fewer presents and fewer people will mean less stress, judgement and excitement for everyone. Matt, an adoptive dad.

It’s not for everyone I know elf on the shelf– but we do Elf on the Shelf. We’ve tweaked it so it works for us – the kids look after the elf, rather than the elf spying on the children and reporting to Santa. We find it takes the focus off Christmas day, spreads the build up making it more manageable on a daily basis, and the children are more interested in what the elf is doing rather than arguing/fighting/stressing themselves. Helpfully, the elves also bring activities (crafts usually) for after school and weekend entertainment. Vicki, The Boy’s Behaviour.

Think like snow deep crisp and even!
Deep: stories and candle for each night of advent. Crisp: choosing favourite food meal to share one evening of Christmas. Even – even though it’s Christmas, keep the gentle ‘normal’ routines of bed times and rhythms going. @wonkywarrior, via Twitter.

My son struggles with Christmas, he loves the idea of Christmas but cannot manage the emotional connection that previous Christmas’ have given him so we keep Christmas very low key and short. Christmas decorations and tree go up a couple of days before Christmas and come down soon after so it’s not too drawn out. Donna, an adoptive mum via Facebook.

Structure to the days – presents eked out over time -i.e. Santa Christmas morning, other relatives gifts after lunch – similarly with selection boxes! Limit parties, take long walks, go swimming / biking etc. Take 2 ibuprofen with a large quantity of wine and retire to a dark room til jan 6th. We also take down decorations just after New Year’s Day so that we start the run up to school with a clear (ish) house. Helen, an adoptive mum via Facebook.

Hibernate and wake up in January. @jayandaitch, via Twitter.

Keep it low key…no mad rush to open presents…make plans that work for you, don’t worry about upsetting others. Naomi, via Facebook.

adventNo tree/decs up until they’ve broke up school. Home is Xmas free apart from advent calendars. @purdy2233, via Twitter.

Work hard to reframe advent with different / new experiences and constant narrative. Also use “less is more” approach to events, keep excitement / new stuff low. Instil family rituals -Xmas film/ repeat events. @elhypno, via Twitter.

 

Making up own traditions is one delight of adoption actually. Mine choose anything they like for breakfast. This Christmas breakfast has been lemon curd on ice cream for button! @wonkywarrior, via Twitter.

We go to park to feed ducks & let off steam between opening pressies! Xmas eve always go for lunch the 4 of us, local posh cafe. Wearing Xmas jumpers! @Purdy2233, via Twitter.

We stagger presents. Family presents when they visit/or we visit. Boys have special jobs. Homemade chocolate truffles by the bucket load (boys love the smell). @3beesandahoney, via Twitter.

Def echo visual diary. And escape route. Son can whisper in my ear if he needs to get out and we seek peace together no matter what the situation. Other than that v low key here. No pressure to join in with games etc. And Santa was busted v early on as too scary. Difficult keeping that a secret from other kids though. @sallydwrites, via Twitter.

And if you need any more tips, then Adoption UK have a Coping with Christmas article on their website.

We’d love to hear how you manage Christmas, or perhaps you’d like to share the things you find especially difficult – as a parent, as an adoptee or as a birth parent. It can be a difficult time for all…

Secret Santa fun on The Adoption Social

  xmas gifts 1

I’m going to mention a word in a minute. I’m giving you warning because I know some of you don’t like to think about it too far in advance, so if you’re not quite in that festive place yet, look away now…

CHRISTMAS!

It’s fast approaching and here at The Adoption Social, we’ve been thinking about ways we can include a bit of festivity in our blogging. So we’re going to host a Secret Santa. No, no don’t worry we’re not asking you to buy gifts and send them to strangers, we’re going to ask you to use the skills we know you already have – your writing skills.

This is the first time we’ve done something like this, although it’s a sort of extension of the linkys we already run – The Weekly Adoption Shout Out and Memory Box. Part of the reason we encourage the use of social media tools for support is because at times we’ve personally felt isolated. We’ve struggled to find people who share the same challenges and feelings. Some of us adoptive parents have felt unable to work because we’ve been needed at home full time. So this, we hope is another way to get involved and find new support and friendships.

We also feel this is a great way to share posts from all sorts of people who are connected to adoption, whether you’re an adoptee, a birth parent, a social worker, other professional, extended family or an adoptive parent.

Just like any normal Secret Santa, we’ll pick two names – one as the writer and one as the host. The writer will write a guest post about something adoption related, and the host will feature it on their blog, linking up to WASO too if they want. It could be a full written post, a photo or a poem, just make sure you include your blog details somewhere so your host can link back to your blog. Once we’ve picked names out of a hat, we’ll let you know who your host will be, but we’ll keep it a secret about who’s writing for you…

If you fancy joining in and having a bit of festive fun, then add your blog details below – just like our other linkys (if your email address isn’t clearly on your blog, please drop us a line with it in too). It’ll close on 1st December, so make sure you sign up now if you want to join in.

We’d like the posts to be featured during the week beginning 16th December, so ask that all of your posts are sent to theadoptionsocial@gmail.com by Friday 13th December at the latest so we can send them onto your hosts.

We know lots of our readers don’t blog, but if that’s you and you still want to get involved, then drop us a line at theadoptionsocial@gmail.com to talk about other ways you can join in – perhaps you could write a guest post for us here on The Adoption Social, or we can share a festive photo through Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook for you.