I love Christmas. I love spending time with family, the food, looking back at the past year...but when you are doing extra traveling, messing with schedules, tons of people, and activities that aren't normal it just can wear on your little ones. Especially those little ones with sensory issues that need the consistency of a schedule to help them function their best.
We've been very lucky with Christmas time. Each year we spend two nights with each set of Grandparents split by spending Christmas Eve with my family and Christmas Day with my in-laws. It's a lot of traveling, but so very worth it. (Even those years where we are driving in a snow storm Christmas Eve night!).
With Ayden, all of this becomes very trying at times. Opening presents causes anxiety, the waiting while others open presents is difficult as well for him, thanking those that gave gifts is also a small struggle - but through it all he manages. We do what we can for him, without letting him skip out on anything. It's always been important to us that he learns to take part in family gatherings. We do other things to help with the stress it causes such as allowing him to do his favorite things longer or eat all day if that is what he wants. I know many other FX parents that will alter and change the way their family celebrates by doing things like opening all the presents for the kids and leaving them in a pile to attack on Christmas morning. I don't have any issues with this as it works for some, it just isn't what we wanted. It much more important to us that Ayden is a part of our family events where he feels accepted and welcome so when he does things like this outside of family, he will be much more comfortable.
This year really was one of the best years we've had with Ayden. He was fussy and whiny pretty much all day on the 24th and 25th, but still did everything that was expected of him without having any temper tantrums or breakdowns. That, and the fact he actually enjoyed opening gifts and playing with them really was amazing. We had some bad times during the time we were gone with listening and napping (normal 4.5 year old stuff) but overall I think he really enjoyed everything.
Today, of course, both kids are exhausted. (So are mom and dad!) But as I take time to reflect on the strides Ayden has made since last Christmas - I remember that all that we push him to do is so very worth it.
I think my biggest joy of the past few days is that Ayden (and Issac) are finally starting to show us that they understand we expect them to be more well behaved away from home than at home. It was just a few small instances, but it was enough to warm my heart.
For those other FX families that had a more trying holiday season....know that it does get better. And most importantly, know that the holidays aren't always something to dread.
I'd like to end here with a few pictures. We don't get tons of good ones since the boys hate sitting still, but these are some of my favorites.