The holiday season is a joyful time when loved ones gather together to exchange gifts and celebrates their blessings. The holidays can also be very stressful, particularly for adults with children who have medical needs. Big crowds and long lines at the stores, family gatherings, holiday parties to attend, school programs, and other events can quickly fill up the schedule. However, in home pediatric care can be a solution. And when you have a medically challenged child, there are additional issues to navigate, such as how your child will react to all that is going on.
There are some ways to reduce stress and enjoy the time you have together with your special child. Here are six things you can do to get more joy out of the holiday season:
Set Realistic Expectations: Parents always want their kids to experience the “perfect” holiday, one they will remember and tell stories about for years and decades to come. But this is not something you can plan for. Inevitably, plans get changed, and there are likely to be some disappointments. Go into the season with the mindset that whatever happens, you will cherish this time you have together. With this approach, you will make some great memories no matter what life throws at you.
Keep the Routine as Regular as Possible: Parents know that children with medical needs react most favorably when they have a set routine. Though holiday events can disrupt their routine at times, try to keep the routine similar to what it is during the regular year. For example, you can keep the same wake up times, meal times, and bed times on days when there are no special gatherings or events to attend. This may be more difficult if you are traveling to visit relatives, but just do your best with the circumstances you have.
Do Not Overschedule: It is tempting to try to pack as much “fun” as possible into the holidays. Again, we are always looking for that “perfect” holiday experience, so we often try to find it in all the activities we partake in. This approach can be counter-productive, however, especially when you have a medically challenged child. Let your child experience as much as possible during the holidays, but also give them (and yourself) plenty of down time so you do not become overly stressed.
Bring Your Own Food (for your child) to Gatherings: If your child has a special diet and/or is just a picky eater, there is a possibility that he/she might act up at a gathering that does not have the preferred foods. Address this issue in advance by bringing your own food and snacks to holiday gatherings. Along these same lines, it is also a good idea to bring along snacks when you take your child shopping, so he/she will have something they like to eat while you are out.
Take Two Vehicles when Traveling to Events: Despite your best efforts, there may be times when your medically-challenged child starts acting up when you are out at a gathering or event. Sometimes, it might even reach the point where you need to bring your child home. If this occurs, it is good to have two vehicles so your spouse and/or your other children can stay and enjoy the festivities.
Bring in Extra Help: During this hectic time, you need to take some time for yourself to unwind and recharge. When you need to, ask other family members or trusted friends to watch your child. And if they are not available, you can call on a local in-home pediatric care agency to provide relief. A skilled home health provider can provide the assistance you need to ensure you and your children have a joyful holiday season.