For children and adults who have a sibling with disabilities, preparing for the holidays isn’t just a matter of buying and wrapping presents, making cookies, and decorating the house. No matter how much you look forward to the holidays and all the activities, you’ll probably find them more relaxing and fun with a bit of preparation. Here’s a few ideas:
- Make sure your sibling can find something familiar to eat at holiday meals. If you are a child, talk with your parents about what food or drink it will be. Then help get it ready to add to the meal. No one likes to feel left out at mealtime and bringing a food your sibling enjoys can make a big difference.
- Are you unsure what your family schedule will be during the holidays? Not knowing what’s going on can make you feel anxious. Get some paper and markers and ask parents to write down the days and activities, or write it down as they tell you all about it. Dec 24 – Drive to Grandpa’s. Dec 25 – Open presents in morning. Dinner with Aunt Sue. Etc. Post it on the wall or fridge. Realize that schedules during the holidays may be updated depending on weather, traffic, and the schedules of other family members or friends.
- Be prepared to see family members that may not know much about your sibling’s disability. If you have a book or notes that explains the disability, review it, or even have it handy to share with your family members. (Kids, don’t hesitate to tell your parents if you are concerned about a question or comment that a family member makes. Ask your parents to help you come up with ideas for helping your family member better understand.)
- If you travel, make sure you and your sibling each bring along a favorite toy or pasttime to help make the trip not feel so long. This item may also help fill time or if you need a little time away from your sibling or all the commotion of the holiday activities. Whether adult or child, a coloring book and pencils can reduce the stress of airport lines, waiting for Santa, or passing time in the car.
- Have a favorite game handy to play with family members or friends. The holidays make a great time to find a willing playmate that isn’t always available at other times.
What do you do to prepare for the holidays?