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 – 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.
No 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…