Let’s talk about Christmas! Often when we start having kids, there are a lot of our own Christmas traditions we want to pass on to our children. We are going to be discussing Christmas and special needs parenting because it looks really different when you have a child with epilepsy, autism, a child in the hospital, or something else. Sometimes we really want to hold tight to those old traditions. We have a fantasy idea of what we want for our kids when it comes to the holidays, and sometimes it doesn’t play out how we want it to. In this episode, I am going to be talking about how we can let those expectations go and how to create new traditions. I will be sharing stories about my traditions and how it has evolved to where we are now.
Why I Learned To Let Go Of My Christmas Traditions
Growing up, I used to love going to Christmas in the Park with my girlfriends. It was a Christmas tradition that I enjoyed so much! I had this fantasy that one day when I had my own family, I would bring my kids there. Eventually, I got married and I started having kids. I was so happy that my dream of having my kids participate in this holiday tradition could finally come true. I brought my boys to the same place with the hopes that they would enjoy it as much as I did. They didn’t feel the same way about it at all, and I realized that my fantasies about what it would be like didn’t align with my kids. Then, when Remy started having seizures and received an autism diagnosis, going anywhere, especially a three-hour drive isn’t something we wanted to do. So, we made a decision that we weren’t going to Christmas in the Park anymore.
Why Traditions Make It Hard To Enjoy The Holidays
When you have a kid with disabilities, things are very different. It’s hard when you are processing it all to imagine what to expect during holidays like Christmas. I was devastated to let our tradition go. With everything going on with Remy, I was so tired that just getting through the day was exhausting. After I gave birth to Nora, I had four kids, one with severe medical needs and autism. It was a lot to do Christmas or travel, and do the normal traditions. I felt like I had to try and keep all of our traditions going so that the boys didn’t feel left out or resentful of what they were missing out on. But this is exhausting for us as parents! When you pile a bunch of expectations on top of an already full plate, it will make you feel like you want to escape on Christmas and just hide with a bottle of wine in the bathroom!
How To Let Go Of Holiday Expectations
I have a challenge for you. I don’t know where you are in your journey with raising a child with special needs, but however you’re able to do it, try and have a good holiday. Even if it isn’t how you typically do it, the stress of holding onto the same traditions you’ve always had isn’t worth the feeling of exhaustion. The holidays are going to look a little different when you’re processing through an autism diagnosis, your child is in a cluster of seizures, or having a hard time in the hospital.
We used to have an amazing time going to my sister-in-law’s parent’s house for Thanksgiving. But a Thanksgiving that we had a few years ago, shortly before Remy received her official autism diagnosis, helped me change my perspective about how I view holidays. Because of that Thanksgiving, I learned that it’s okay that things look a little different. Things were not going to be the same, but I was at a point where I let go of all my expectations for the holidays. They were now going to be a time that we would just figure things out, and ever since then, we do something different each year.
How To Relax and Enjoy Christmas With Your Family
I don’t know what you are doing for Christmas, but I just want you to remember that it’s about getting together and making the kind of memories that will be meaningful to your family. I am giving you permission to have Christmas be different this year! Your holidays are going to be different, and it is up to you whether that is a good thing or a bad thing. It is totally up to you because you are the parent and you’re in control. The thing that your kids will cherish the most is happy parents and a happy family. Just let the holiday be what it is! You can go back to your regular Christmas traditions if or when you feel like it’s the right time.
- Create a new memory and a new tradition, because your child is different and that is okay. Even if it feels like you are not giving your child the proper holiday traditions, they will not care about missing out on it as much as you worry that they will.
- Your child will remember the love that is in the family, and they’re going to care less about all of the hype that we give Christmas. What matters the most is that you spend time enjoying your family and making memories, even if it isn’t exactly how you pictured it would be, because that is what your children will remember.
- This year might be hard or even next year, but things will get easier! I used to feel like it would always be very difficult for Remy, but as she has gotten older, there are a lot of behaviors that she has grown out of and in a lot of ways it has become more manageable.
- However you can do it, have a good holiday! What’s important is that you try and enjoy the holiday for what it is. Have a good time and put aside your expectations for what you wanted, because it may not happen. It’s important that you can still enjoy yourself and spending time with your family.
- The stress of trying to hold the same traditions that you’ve always had for the sake of the family is not worth it. If stressing yourself out so everything will be the same and feel traditional leaves you feeling depleted, it is absolutely not worth it and you should devote that energy to creating new traditions.