I‘m guessing there are lots of parents of HSCs letting out a huge sigh of relief right about now. Back to school. Back to work. Back to normal life. Back to a routine that works for you and your family.
Christmas is a wonderful time of year but also an incredibly stressful time for many parents of HSCs, and of course the children themselves. It’s when expectations are high that families get together, eat cosy meals together, and even stay at each other’s houses.
It means lots of pressure for things to go smoothly and lots of unwanted stimulation for a HSC. They are sleeping in a bed not their own, their own routines go out the window, there are lots of people around them, the food is different, there is the excitement of presents, there are Christmas tree lights and decorations everywhere they look. You want things to go calmly, you need your children to behave as others expect. You need them to behave in a way that just isn’t them. And as any parent of a HSC can vouch, this mix is a recipe for disaster.
Melt downs are inevitable. Tears are shed. Aggression rears its head in the most unsuitable of situations. Your child’s behaviour baffles your family. They comment on how spoilt your son behaves, how you are too soft on your daughter. They of course know better how your child should be raised and which parenting method you should employ. It ends in negative feelings. Tension. Stress. Upset.
What they don’t get is what being highly sensitive means for you, for your child. And what it means at Christmas when expectations are running high for everyone to be together and for everyone to have what I call a ‘Disney Christmas’. They don’t see the mayhem behind the scenes once you get your children back home and the anxiety, excitement and the disruption to normal life takes its toll on your HSC. Many of us are mopping up the effects for days after. Was it all worth it? Couldn’t we do it differently?
It takes time to work out what your children need at one of the most busy times of the year – and it takes courage to stand up for what your child needs and not conform with family expectations.
For us it means we tend to stay home for Christmas, or go away just the five of us, where we can manage the routine, keep things familiar despite things obviously being a little different and exciting around Christmas. It means that family get togethers often happen at our house or not at all. It means we play things by ear, and make no concrete plans. If our children are not coping we build in quiet days, or go for a walk in the dunes or the woods. I guess if you look at it in black and white when it comes to Christmas we are completely selfish. Our children come first; Christmas is about them after all.
I am lucky that my father-in-law and his wife understand the gist of what it means to have highly sensitive children. Whilst they sometimes don’t always get the nitty gritty they do understand that consecutive days of full on activities for my children just don’t work. Going from one house to another around Christmas just doesn’t work for us. Disrupting their routine day after day isn’t an option, not if we want to keep any semblance of sanity in our home.
So whilst this Christmas is still fresh in your mind, evaluate what worked and what didn’t. It’s a long way off now, but if you start thinking about it next December the memory of this last Christmas will have faded. Plan now how you can change things next year. Don’t assume your child will cope better next year with going from one house to another because they are a year older. I have seen so many distraught parents writing in forums over the last week about conflict, clashes and upset because it was all too much for their HSC whilst staying at family – and that’s not what Christmas should be about. It’s heartbreaking to read about the lack of understanding at this time of year and how quickly conflict can escalate in to a major threat to family relations.
I hope your festive season was peaceful, fun and filled with love. But if things could have been better then there’s no harm in taking the time now to make plans so next Christmas is a little more peaceful for all!