How To Plan For A Calm And Peaceful Holiday With Your Exceptional Child

It’s here. The last day of school before Christmas Eve. I am filled with excitement and fear, as I always am at this time of year. I feel excitement for obvious reasons; seeing family, catching up, eating great food, opening presents. Fear is something only other families of exceptional children will understand. It’s the fear of the new routine, and how it will affect Michael and our family. It is the fear of increased tantrums and meltdowns, Michael’s and ours, as we try to make the holiday a peaceful and happy one for the most part. My expectations for Michael are different than when he was a baby. My own expectations about the holiday are different too as are Dad’s. We just want peace. Not perfection. We just want to make it through the day without battles, crying and feeling overwhelmed. We know this is hard. Someone with autism has challenges in a regular routine in our crazy world. Throw in a holiday that lasts two weeks without the same structure and well, you need to expect some chaos. It’s how you manage the chaos as a parent. I can never get used to the fact that the happiest times of the year for other people are the hardest ones for families whose children have exceptional challenges.

Dad and I have had our good days managing our emotions around Michael’s behaviors and our bad days. This week has been a mix of both. It is with caution this year that we are embarking on Christmas. We spoke earlier this morning about what has to change in our household, with Michael, and with how we individually handle our own emotions. The time of year is difficult too with the shorter darker days.  All I know is what I don’t want to do. I love my child, but the last month it has been hard to like him. There I said it. Dad feels this way too. When he tests and fights us on everything it is draining and frustrating. I count down the minutes till bedtime when I can have an hour or two of peace and pray for strength to be there for him in the morning. It is not how I want to go into Christmas, but there you have it. I know Michael has entered puberty and is trying out new things. He’s seeing how far he can push. As parents, we need to remain strong, united. Most of the time we are , but we are only human and have our moments when we fail Michael and ourselves. We get up, dust ourselves off, and start again.

Exceptional Parents, what are you planning to do to have a calm and peaceful holiday? Are you visiting relatives or staying in? Are they coming to you? Remember, whatever you decide to do, make sure it will bring you and your family peace overall. You need to think of the whole picture of the holiday and what will make your child, and other children as well as you and your partner, happy and content. There are no perfect families and holiday scenarios even in neuro typical families. Don’t strive for that. Strive instead to be true to yourself and your family, and do what will give everyone happiness and health and balance. Happy Holidays! Until next time.

Joanne Giacomini is a writer, speaker and parent coach at “Exceptional Parenting/Exceptional Balance” She also blogs on her personal blog, “Exceptional Mom/Exceptional Child” at www.exceptionalmomchild. com,  about how her son with autism is raising her! She writes regularly about parenting and autism at “M List,” as “Montreal Autism Mom”, “The West Island Suburban’s “Parenting 101 bloggers,” and “Huff Post Parents Canada”. Her posts on parenting and autism have been featured on “BlogHer Family-Special Needs”, ”Her View From Home”,  “Romper”, “Yummy Mummy Club Canada, as well as “Scary Mommy.” She also writes for “The Things”,“Baby Gaga” and “The Talko.”You can follow Joanne on Twitter @exceptmomchild.

One of the hardest and most stressful times of the year for special needs families is fast approaching. Are you and your exceptional family ready? Do you need new strategies to cope with anxiety? Download my FREE EBOOK on “5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL FAMILY ANXIETY”

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