19 November 2021

Tips for Christmas with disabled children

Young child opening christmas present

With the festive season coming up, we know that pressures can mount, and stress can amplify with so much to sort out and get ready. Although enjoyable, this can be a difficult time for many and, for those with disabled or special needs kids, it’s no secret that the changes in routine and extra activities can add a whole other layer of stress to the situation.

For those who may be worried about how they will manage, or who are just looking for tips and advice, we offer some ideas for parents of disabled or special needs children at Christmas.

Reduce stress

Christmas can be very stressful and overwhelming for any child, especially those who have sensory issues. Making an effort to reduce stressors can go a long way to improving the experience for everyone and allowing the day to flow more easily.

This recommendation comes from Emma at Lip Gloss and Curves who tells us: “Having two special needs/disabled children of my own ages 16 and 3, I recommend making Christmas as stress-free as possible. This includes thinking about the texture of wrapping paper, sounds it makes due to sensory and noise problems your child may face. Also, the overwhelming feeling children may face with lots of gifts so plan the gifts out over the day or even a few days. Christmas doesn’t all need to be on one day. Using planned visuals can also help make the day easier for children who need structure as it can become too much to process for children. Make sure to allow breaks and an area to get away from sensory overload.”

Person online shopping for Christmas

Embrace online shopping

Online shopping is becoming the norm more and more for people at Christmas, and, for those whose children have a disability, it can be incredibly beneficial. Even for an able-bodied person, trying to navigate the busy high street during the festive season in search of the perfect gifts can be a challenge and, we all know that children have a time limit when it comes to shopping. But opting to embrace online shopping means not only can you shop on your own timeline with a few minutes here and there, but you don’t need to try and do it with kids in tow.

Keep your routine

Routines can be incredibly important for all children, but for some, it’s a relied upon tactic to make each day that little bit easier. Over the festive season it can be easy to lose the routine with a Christmas party here and a panto there but, whenever possible, sticking to your average routine can help keep a familiar balance to your days and reduce anxiety for children who might not cope well with the stress change can cause.

Discussing not adding too much into the festive season, Petra from A Mum Reviews suggests: “For parents of children with any kind of special needs it's so important to not pack your schedule full of activities and to not have more plans than you can handle. You need to know your limits and your child's limits and choose the Christmas events or activities that are most important to you otherwise you and your child will soon feel overwhelmed and exhausted instead of enjoying the Christmas festivities.”

Encourage visitors to plan

In the same way that trying to stick to the routine is important, it can also be important to ensure any visits are planned. From present drop-offs to mince pies over tea, in the run-up to the big day it’s not unrealistic that family members might stop by out of the blue. Although it’s always nice to see friendly faces, this can be an imposition on your space and add extra stress to you and your children. Why not put a call out to anyone you think might be guilty of a non-planned stop off and schedule a time in with them instead?

READ MORE: Memorable ways to spend time with your family this Christmas

Be realistic

Remember, Christmas is just one day a year and it’s not worth upsetting yourself trying to make it perfect. Be realistic with your plans and expectations for the day and make sure you aren’t biting off more you can chew with your planning.

Jo, from Tea and Cake for the Soul, explains: “Be realistic with your expectations. Try to remember that Christmas is really not like what you see on Instagram or TV adverts. Christmas brings tension and over excitement for all children, not just those with disabilities.”

Tips for Christmas with disabled children:

  • Reduce stress
  • Embrace online shopping
  • Keep your routine
  • Encourage visitors to plan
  • Be realistic

The festive season is an amazing time of year and a time when you can spoil the family members you love the most. With these tips, we hope you can have a relaxed and stress-free Christmas that every family member can enjoy and cherish.

If you need more help at home, perhaps for those who are suffering from mobility issues, why not check out our stairlift prices and see how affordable independence really is?

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