Every December I find myself sitting by the fire with a hot cup of tea pondering the fact that another year is almost over. It never ceases to amaze me that one moment I am getting the kids ready to go back to school and the next it is christmas. The most wonderful time of the year…..there is even a song about it. Between the parties, christmas concerts, and holiday preperations we often find ourselves running instead of slowing down and enjoying the moments that make it christmas. Having a child with SPD helped me learn to slow down during the holiday season because for Nora it is not always the most wonderful time of the year.
Imagine living in a world that you already find too loud, too bright, and too busy and then throw christmas out into that world. Well things just got a lot louder, brighter, and busier! I can remember taking our girls to a children’s christmas party at my husbands work one year when Nora was 2. From the moment we walked in the door Nora clung to me like we were taking her to get a needle. There was face painting, cookie decorating, and lots of yummy food. Nora wanted nothing to do with any of it and although she wasn’t miserable she just would not get out of my arms for the whole two hours. Now I look back and see that she was completely overstimulated and need me to squeeze her in order to find some balance for her sensory system.
Over the years we have found a balance during the holiday season that works for Nora. There are things that she loves to do but knows that it will leave her mentally exhausted so we plan accordingly. Things like family get togethers are a must so she makes sure she has down time before and after to recharge her batteries and get her sensory system back on track. There are her sisters school christmas concerts that are not mandatory if they are on a school day because she is done at the end of a school day. When Nora was little we never forced her to go to a mall to visit Santa or we picked a time of day when the mall would be less crowded and the line would be short. We try to get out hiking more and made sure she had more play time outside during the holiday’s. Being outside always helps her to reset her senses. All of these little things add up to finding a balance that works for her.
Even from a young age Nora loved our christmas tree. She would sit and watch the lights or pull a blanket and pillow out and lay beside the tree. I remember asking her once, when she was 5, why she liked the tree so much and she said, “It makes my head feel better”. I often think back to that time before we know what SPD was and the language Nora would use to discribe how things made her feel. For Nora the lights help her relax, calm her mind, and restore balance to her senses. One of the things I admire most about Nora is her ability to slow down and enjoy life. Even with SPD and the choas of the holidays she can still turn christmas into the most wonderful time of the year.
So from our home to yours we wish you sensory smart Christmas and all the best in 2018!