DD is 3 1/2 and as if 3 1/2 isn't enough , DD is highly spirited. I've read Raising Your Spirited Child, and they touch on the holidays in the book but they don't give a whole lot of ideas. I was wondering what other families do with there highly spirited transition challenged children during the holidays.
DH and I are prepared to leave with DD when things become too much for her or take her to a quiet place to calm down and regroup but she is a child that get super hyped in crowds and we will be with our large families much of the time. Christmas alone we start Christmas Eve out at our house hosting my family for dinner and opening gifts, in the morning (we've suspended opening gifts at home until the day after Christmas or sometimes two days after Christmas just to give DD a break) we get up early and head to DH's parents where his whole family gathers, we have breakfast and open gifts, about 4:00 pm we leave there and head to my Grandmother's house where my family and extended family gather to eat dinner and exchange gifts between the children. Within a 24 hour period there are three major transitions and a whole lot of little ones which cause major stress and meltdowns. And that doesn't include the family Christmas parties leading up to Christmas.
Please don't suggest changing our schedule. DH and I have been over it many times, neither of us are happy about it but we can't find an compromising alternative at this time. We are just looking for ideas to cope and make it a little easier on DD. Thanks!
That schedule has me feeling wound up and stressed out. I think if you can't or won't change it, you'll have to expect the meltdowns and ride them out. I'm not sure how many coping strategies there are (other than lots of egg nog from the bowl for the adults), if you know that she reacts to overstimulation and has trouble with transitions, and yet she will face all of that and more. I think you have the right idea to watch for the warning signs and be ready to intervene and re-group when you see them.
You can try to prepare her for the transitions. Explain the schedule, give her lots of warnings, use natural breaks to cue her as much as possible ("it's almost dark - time to go to Grandma's house for dinner") . You are probably doing this anyway.
Mostly though, I'd try to manage other contributing factors - keep her as well-rested as possible (does she still nap?), maintain healthy nutrition, and try to build in some breathing room into the activities, like a little outdoor time.
Best of luck with it.
Yeah, I would have a hard time with that schedule too. I HATE the running around that goes with the holidays and, frankly, seems to ruin them. But I understand that it's not always possible to bow out.
I had a rather unconventional idea. My son has an amazing little indoor tent (or is it for the beach?) that folds up flat. And then to use it, you just unfold it and--boing! its' a tent. It is the most awesome thing. I wonder if you could get her one of those, and bring it to the various relatives houses with you (they are very lightweight and easy to carry) and pop it open when you get there, and put into it some favorite toys and books for her, maybe a soft favorite blanket, and make that her little cozy secret hideaway where she can go when the going gets tough.
I know what it's like...my son gets overwhelmed easily in crowds too, and I don't even think of it as a problem or flaw...in my mind it is totally natural and normal to resist a sort of artificially-busy schedule; our bodies don't want to do that! :-)
I hope you like my idea. Here is a photo of one that is similar in style to the one my son uses:
But if you Google "pop up play house" or "pop up tent for kids" you will see a whole range of them; some are actually quite lovely.
that kind of schedule would be sooo up dd's alley, but not for her bf. crowds really energize her and even at 3 she could go from 9 to 10 and then collapse. however it wasnt the crowds that caused any issues it was more of a lack of food or downtime. she gave up naps at 2. for dd the concept of overstimulation even today does not exist.
can you get a couple of hours away from the mayhem and find some peace in a bedroom. if there are other children it would be hard to keep them out of the tent in my experience.
is your child a high energy child? with all the caught in driving does he get any running around time? dd would lose it if she hadnt gotten her energy out. going for a exploratory walk - yeah even in the snow and rain, with a little running and walking is enough to get their energy out.
even today at 9 a walk solves many issues here.
Thank you for your replies and suggestions! Yes, this schedule is even stressful for DH and I but that could be another thread altogether!
The one saving grace is that both DH's parents and my Grandmother live on many acres so there is lots of outside running room! There are no other little kids at DH's parents house so the tent may work there (and we do have a tent already, thank you for the idea!). However, at my Grandmother's house that would not work at all, DD has a 3 yo boy cousin who would give her no peace in a tent. I have already found DD in my Grandmother's stairwell sitting by herself. When I asked her what she was doing she told me she liked it there because it was quiet and she liked looking at the pictures on the wall (my grandmother has old black and white pictures of family on the wall going upstairs).
But a lightbulb just went on! Thank you so much mamas! DD likes books but she can't concentrate on them when there is a lot going on. However, the one thing she loves to do anytime at all is look at pictures and pictures of DH and I abound at both places! That might be the perfect solution for taking a break and calming her down when we are inside. Music is also a great idea! I was thinking of buying DD her own set of ear phones or ear buds to use with my MP3 player.
Food is always a struggle when we are out. We always get home and then she remembers she's hungry but trying to get her to eat while we are away is usually horrible. Naps are pretty nonexistant, so sad! At times when I know she needs a nap and I force the issue she will only nap for 45 minutes and wake up crankier than she was before she napped. So, downtime is very much needed in place of nap time. And sticking to a break per hour is a great idea too! I think that would help a lot to stick to a schedule!
I can't thank you enough Mama's! I feel a little calmer already having a game plan in place! That's just what I was looking for! I hope you all have very Happy Holiday's!