Holidays and special occasions are often a difficult time for children in foster or adoptive homes. There may have previously been a lot of uncertainty and disappointment around the holidays and there will certainly be new and unfamiliar traditions. Making a calendar is a great way to help your child prepare for what is to come. When things are predictable, they feel safer and are less likely to cause your child anxiety. You can even create and plan for some new traditions with your child.
Start out with talking about your main traditions and plan out where these will go on the calendar. If it’s for Christmas, it might be when you will be getting and decorating your tree or putting up your lights. You might be planning to do some Christmas baking, shopping for family members or making some home-made gifts. Maybe you will do a walk around the neighborhood to see the Christmas lights and then have some hot chocolate at home afterwards. Also, make sure to talk about what Christmas Eve and Christmas day will look like so your child will know what to expect and it will be more enjoyable for everyone.
Keep it simple and don’t overload yourself with a huge wish list. Remember, the holidays are stressful for everyone so less is more. The important part is talking about the plan first and then letting your child make as much of the calendar as they are able. Egg cartons are great for this, your child can draw and cut out a small picture on cardstock for each door with a number on the front for the date. You can put whatever you want inside each section. It could be a recipe or shopping list for gingerbread houses, or a small wrapped chocolate in each one. Whatever works for your family. If your child gets overwhelmed around the holidays, consider doing a smaller countdown for getting ready for Thanksgiving, Halloween and Easter as well.
Sorry, I couldn’t resist and no, I have never attempted making any of these but if you and your child enjoy making crafts you might want to give one a try. (Website is www.1dogwoof.com)
Thanks for reading and I hope this was helpful!
Vicky Wallace, Play and Expressive Arts Therapist