Family get-togethers can be tough for all families, but when you have children who have additional needs it can become even more challenging.
We have children in our family with additional needs, from OCD and language delay through to ASD, so Christmas can be a tough time. There are lots of extended family members who do not understand our children or what we are doing with them, and they certainly show no interest in wanting to understand! So, we now alternate Christmas between two houses.
One of us hosts Christmas on the 22nd December for one side of the family and the other on the 25th for the other half of the family.
We expect pandemonium (and we get it!) and, in our own houses, we can control the sweets and chocolate freely passed around!
A few weeks prior to Christmas we speak with the family members who are coming to stay (they literally stay in every room of the house other than the bathroom!) and we tell them our children’s main struggles and main things we are focusing on (so as they can reinforce them when they see them engage in those behaviours).
Another thing we have learned that works out really well is to stagger ‘present time’.
The final tip we have is to ensure the children (and parents) get some time when we leave the house and the family in the house! When the family arrive, I ensure the children are all out with the Dads at the park so as I can settle the guests. I then have a cup of tea with them to go through our ‘house rules’ which we pop on the kitchen wall at Christmas-visit time! This helps people to know our expectations and the consequences, so as they can be consistent too. It isn’t a big deal – just a cuppa and a chat.
When the need does arise to travel to your family get-together, why not check-in to a local low cost B&B rather than stay with the in-laws? You may even get to stay at the B&B with your partner and leave the children at the in-laws!!!! We have done this and to cover the additional expense, the adults do not do Christmas presents. It is worth it!
And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so? It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled 'till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store. What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more. - Dr. Seuss