As you will all see this post is late today. VERY late. I am in “Christmas Recovery” mode which lasts for two days before we go into “Birthday Recovery Mode” for Michael with which I need another day’s recovery, but that is a separate post. 🙂 Like most families with exceptional kids, the holidays are beautiful and stressful all in one breath. There are the moments you see them sitting quietly and listening and you take a breath in and are able to talk to family. Then, there are the other moments when, well, you look forward to coming home and having that nice glass of wine when they are finally asleep. I had many of both moments throughout the day yesterday. I had my discouraging moments when I was kind of feeling sorry for myself among my family whose children are neuro typical and listen. Then of course, I immediately felt guilty. Guilty due to the fact that Michael, and all kids like him who have autism or are exceptional in some other way, are doing the best that they can. It is not an excuse for rudeness and disrespect. We had a talk yesterday about how he needs to follow the rules, and if he is having a hard time he needs to tell us. I also reminded him, as he knows about his autism, that it is not an excuse to be used to misbehave. We know he is capable of more than what he is doing. We spoke some more this in the am. He is so anxious, has a lot of difficulty regulating himself and friendships are challenging though he is starting to learn how to play and talk with his many good friends.
What did I learn this holiday? Well, every year I look at what our family did right and what we did wrong. I tally them up and keep it in mind for the next year. This year, my mind is in a better place. I not only accept that there will be ups and downs in the next two weeks, but I am using better ways to cope with my own feelings of success and failure as parent. We all have those moments. We are human. What are the ways I fine tune my own thinking for future holidays? Here are 5 of them:
- Each day I do the best I can with what I have: This is my new mantra. I have moments when I doubt myself and my mothering, but I remind myself what I remind Michael: do the best that you can and go with your instinct.
- Get as much sleep as you can or grab a rest here or there: Sleep is essential. The first two days of the holidays I slept a total of 10 hours, never mind the bad sleeping of the nights before leading up to the holidays.What I did instead to make up for it, was grabbing a rest on the couch when Dad was with Michael. He did the same. This morning I felt much better waking up after seven hours of sleep.
- Laugh at the silly things: Our kids do SO many silly things. As long as it is not rude, it’s alright t to laugh. Hey, sometimes even the rude things are a little funny like when Michael repeated back to me when I was getting upset, “Mommy, you’re not using your strategies.” Just don’t laugh out loud.
- What went right? What could I change? This is where can see what strategies worked in preparing their child for a family visit and which didn’t. Don’t beat yourself up. I learned that arriving near the beginning of my family gatherings at a house is easier on Michael even if he gets bored and we have to leave early. Coming in midway like we did this year was too overwhelming for all of us.
- Have a wind down routine after if you need to: Oh yes. Now after two days of celebrating with both our families which is wonderful but exhausting, I make sure to take my glass of wine or spirits (or both) with me and curl up with a good book. It’s my way to unwind from the two days and tell myself, “Girl, you survived and learned what to do and not to do.”
Exceptional Parents, what are your holiday survival techniques? How do you recover alone and as a family? Another great thing is to not be afraid to cry or let out anger in a constructive way. The holidays are not picture perfect for anyone, except in the movies. I also highly recommend popping into online parent support group and attending any in person ones you are a member of in the new year. Comparing notes with others in your shoes will remind you that you are not alone. You and your families are doing the best that you can. Until next time.
I am a writer and parent coach at “Exceptional Parenting/Exceptional Balance.” I am passionate about empowering parents to trust their own instinct when raising their exceptional children with autism, and remembering that parenthood is as much a journey for us as childhood is for our children. For more information on my parent coaching programs, and to book a FREE 30 Minute Consultation, see my website: http://www.exceptionalparenting.net.
It’s the holidays, one of the most beautiful and crazy times of the year! Do you need new strategies to cope with anxiety and stress? Download my FREE EBOOK on “5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL FAMILY ANXIETY” http://www.exceptionalparenting.net/EBOOKS