Useful tips for less stress this holiday season

As the Veteran’s Day Weekend officially kicks off two month of craziness, it is a good time to remember the tips to get you through this holiday season.

Autism Spectrum Therapies (http://news.yahoo.com/autism-spectrum-therapies-suggestions-stress-free-holiday-season-082755126.html) started this list, but here’s my tweaks and additions that make it useful for everyone.

Work as a team to preserve critical routines

As a family, when you start making holiday plans, be precise and honest with family. Work out ways to preserve critical routines- like bedtimes and family dinners- throughout the holiday season. The key is to remind all family members and friends that you need their help to make things work smoothly, that you need to work as a team during the holidays.

For kids- especially those struggling with ADHD, Autism, and other disorders- the disruption in a regular schedule causes anxiety. When you mix this in with the excitement of presents and family any kid will have trouble. Communicate the changes to your kids, tell them what to expect. For younger kids, use social stories to ease into major changes in routines. Children with ADHD respond well to visualized routines. Be creative, use your imagination, think in kid-terms about how to get them to remember.

 Ease into the season and out of it

If you’re like me you want it to go from boring to wonderful in 10 minutes flat. Kids struggle with this though. When you have a poor concept of time it’s hard to remember that those presents aren’t for opening, and that there’s still 2 weeks of school left before winter break. A simple way to overcome this sudden shift that changes your kids into entirely different creatures is to start decorating early and in stages rather than changing the entire home all at once- beginning with an advent calendar (even if it’s homemade). For younger children it’s also important to allow them to interact with the decorations and help put them in place.

When you’re done, back out of the holiday’s the same way. It allows for an easier transition back into the normal, and extends the holiday feeling just a little longer.

Plan Your Shopping Time

I don’t know why I always wait to shop… it’s probably the traffic and all the people that just make it impossible to get into the stores before the last week. But these last minuet scurries wreak havoc on our little ones. Our stress becomes there’s and anxieties are increased when we’re suddenly not there.

Minimize these last-minute shopping trips. For children who rely on routines and react to abrupt changes, unexpected shopping trips can be stressful. And, if your child will accompany you during holiday shopping, plan enough time to allow them to gradually adapt to the intense holiday stimuli found in many stores.

Opening Presents

All the paper, all the toys, if your house is like mine present time can be a lot of craziness. Get through it by sharing the ground rules up front. When opening gifts as a family use an object, such as a small ornament, to show whose turn it is. This sets the stage for children to know that they need to take their time- not rush through all their presents at once. The individual holding the object should be the one to open the next gift. For young children, other’s gifts may look fun too! Prepare siblings and young relatives to share their new gifts by example.

A little planning ahead can go a long way this season.

If you have any other tips I would love to hear about them.