Preparing for Christmas 2020
As a parent carer, you don’t need to be reminded of the chaos that COVID-19 has caused to your family life this year. Since the first lockdown in March, we have had to juggle like we’ve never juggled before! Alongside being full time parents, we’ve had to become full time educators, and some of us have had work full time too! We’ve had to balance each of our children’s differing needs, keeping them motivated to learn in an online world – if, of course, they’ve had access to the internet! For some us, the challenges of furlough – and even redundancy – have threaded through our homes, shocking us to the core. And all the while we have tried to keep things as normal as possible for our children with SEND who typically hate change.
Nine months on from the first wave, there is still uncertainty. The novelty of lockdown has worn thin; there is no Joe Wicks to brighten our mornings, and a quick scoot around the park is less enjoyable in the wind and rain. With Christmas looming, things are looking gloomier than ever and, at the time of writing, there is still some uncertainty as to whether we’ll be able to bubble with those we love.
Family tensions often run high in December, as we worry about giving our children and our extended family the ‘perfect’ Christmas. Our anxieties around who we’ll see and where and when, what food we’ll cook, and which presents we’ll buy have been exacerbated in this most difficult of years. Some of us may have lost loved ones during the pandemic or we may be facing very real financial worries, and are dreading having to slap on a smile for the sake of the children.
It’s hard to imagine that a year ago, we hadn’t even heard of COVID-19! Now though, it’s a part of our everyday vocabulary and barely an hour goes by without some reference being made to managing the spread of the virus. Like it or not, we’ve become used to lockdowns, tiers and bubbles, but the overload of information to help us navigate the changes that have been forced upon us have been confusing at best. To help us all find our way through that and to round up an unprecedented year, we have compiled some useful tips on how to manage a very COVID-Christmas.
Plan what you can
It might help to imagine what the worst case scenario will look like, and plan your festivities around that. A timetable for the big day might help your child with SEND to cope and should help to prevent potential meltdowns.
With several areas being moved into Tier 3 this week, it is still possible that the Government will retract its plans to relax restrictions over Christmas. Try not to be too set in your ways. If you’ve already ordered and paid for your extra-sized turkey, think about how you could freeze potential leftovers, to avoid waste (and stress).
Give everyone a job
Children love to help, so consider giving everyone a job. Your child’s table-laying skills might not be up to your usual standard, but it’ll keep them occupied! Letting them become a part of the changes that are happening all around them might also create some new family traditions!
We all enjoyed clapping for the NHS back in the spring and summer. It was such a good way of getting to meet our neighbours. Some communities are getting into the spirit of Christmas by caroling on their own doorstep. Is this something you and your family could get involved in? Perhaps this could be another tradition in the making!
For those of us who are lucky enough to have a computer and internet access, Christmas is a great opportunity to get your extended family and friends together for some virtual fun and games. Platforms such as Zoom offer up to 40 minutes of free talk time (unlimited if there are only 2 people on the call). This is a great way of connecting with those you love – invite the grandparents to watch your children open their stockings, or enjoy a glass of wine with a friend whilst you cook Christmas dinner together. If you’re into quizzes, Kahoot have a great app (again free) which is easy to use and brilliant for involving children with SEND in the fun and games.
If you can make this Christmas work for you, it may well go down in your family history as one of the best ever. But whatever it brings you, we hope you will stay safe and well, and we look forward to welcoming you back to WSPCF on 4th January.
MERRY CHRISTMAS AND HAPPY NEW YEAR
From Val and the Team at WSPCF