Christmas Strategies at Worditude HQ
For fun, not for business….although may be good for business too
We’re 17 years into doing Christmas as parents, and every year we get a little bit better at managing the needs, wants and expectations of all four us (plus cats).
Son#2 (currently 15) is autistic and has often found Christmas too much - too many people in one room, too much pressure, too much expectation, too hot, too bright, too loud.
Son#1 (currently 17) has never liked surprises or the unknown and can tend to get physically ill (asthma/eczema) when anxious.
I live with chronic migraine so need to avoid flashing lights, too much sugar, extremes of temperature and getting over-tired.
I’m sharing our most successful Christmas strategies in case they are helpful to other people whose kids find this time of year a bit difficult.
These have come through trial and error and the boys challenging why we do things the way we do.
I bloody love the way they relentlessly just do not accept the way things are done and help us to find something that works better for us.
1 - We don’t do surprises
Son#1 asked when he was very young - why can’t I know what I’m getting?
I said something about surprises.
He told me surprises aren’t fun for him and make him anxious.
And that was the end of surprises.
The boys write their wish list with me, and if they ask, I tell them as presents are acquired and who is getting it for them.
The really big ones from us (important not necessarily cost) they are allowed to see, out of the packaging, hold and touch for one day, and then it goes away again until Christmas.
We didn’t start this last ‘try-before-you-get’ bit until they were old enough to understand that people like giving gifts on Christmas Day and that they would need to wait until that day to become the owner of that gift. They were about 6 and 8 I think.
We still do this now.
They feel way more excited because they KNOW what they’re getting - not just know it having seen it written down, but know it because they’ve touched it.
2 - We do not expect them to perform excitement or gratitude
Yes, they will eventually feel grateful and express thanks. But there’s a very good chance that’s not going to happen in the moment, and everyone who loves them enough to give them a gift knows and understands this.
Son#2 would not be in the same room as presents for about 6 years. Then he would unwrap his gifts totally alone. Now sometimes he’ll do it with an audience (if he chooses) but also totally fine if he wants to drag his sack of goodies to another room and take 5 hours to unwrap at his own pace. He’s not ungrateful. He’s processing.
3 - We go to other people and leave the moment we need to
It’s much easier for us to go to others than for them to come to us. And when it’s time for us to go, it really is immediately.
Which means we don’t usually do the long goodbyes….we’re just gone.
90 minutes is pretty much Son#2s limit although this is getting more flexible as he gets older.
4 - None of that naughty list bollocks
And I swiftly shut down anyone that mentioned it in front of the kids.
This isn’t an issue now they’re teens.
But it was a ridiculously unhelpful source of anxiety when they were growing up.
5 – The whole of December is Christmas
Not just one day.
We have loads of fun Christmassy things we do, starting with the day they put the tree up with my Mum and Dad.
With plenty of Christmas to look forward to there’s not so much pressure on a single day, and it doesn’t matter if someone wants to opt-out of one of the (many) Christmas events.
6 - I work as much or as little as I want
I can’t stand all the work-shaming posts about how we’re supposed to turn off our computers and give our loved ones our undivided attention.
I love to work. I love my business.
This is my hobby. I love TV, and movies and reading and playing card games.
But I also love to work.
So if I feel like working during the Christmas period, I will do that.
If The Sons or The Husband want to spend time with me doing something else, I’m happy to close the laptop.
But equally, I’m very happy getting up at 6am and ploughing through a brand new course I’ve just bought, or writing blog posts for a few hours while everyone else sleeps in.
My version of rest and restoration doesn’t have to look the same as everyone else’s.
That’s a wrap
This isn’t permission to do things differently, because you don’t need that from anyone but yourself.
But maybe this post has sparked some ideas about how you can tailor-make your Christmas experience to suit yourself.