Yesterday was Christmas and for the first time ever we stayed home and had a quiet day. We played games (Monopoly Deal which is a card game is fantastic – so much better than Monopoly and so much quicker!!). We watched movies. We had time to open presents. We snacked all day. We slept in and us parents had an afternoon sleep. Those that wanted to, packed for Beach Mission which we leave for today. (We even chose to pack away the Christmas tree and Christmas decorations so that when we return from Beach Mission it is organised.) We didn’t have to be anywhere at any one time. We were in bed by 8pm. The kids even enjoyed it as they were allowed to watch their favourite movies, play with their toys, eat what they wanted. The next fortnight will be full on with friends and people at Beach Mission and we purposefully planned ahead to give us all some down time beforehand.
As I was going to sleep, I reflected on the ease of all the family going to bed early and getting to sleep. I then reflected back to times when our kids had been overstimulated on Christmas Day and other exciting party days. One of the worst aspects was trying to calm them down and get them to sleep. Another aspect was their behaviour the following day.
When our son was about 2 ½ years old, he had numerous emergency trips to hospital and multiple food allergies and intolerances. I had to keep a strict food/drink/behaviour/breathing chart of everything he consumed and his behaviour and respiratory issues so that the dietitian and myself could determine which foods were having a negative impact on him. What I discovered was that the food usually affected him 48 hours later, not the following day as we had expected. This helped me in the ‘disciplining’ of him 2 days after an event when we realised it was mainly due to food consumed prior than naughty behaviour.
Several strategies we used to help him during those years when he would act out in a negative manner were:
- To have prepared beforehand. There are two aspects to this – to realise that we would have consequences from the food we had allowed him to consume full of sugar and preservatives and also to have prepared food so that we could substitute more appropriate food so that he didn’t experience such a great ‘high’. An example now days is sticking to water instead of sugary drinks but still allowing the food just helps reduce some sugar and preservatives. Realising what you may face helps when you do encounter it. Similar when your baby/toddler doesn’t sleep well during the day and you go “Yippee, they’ll get to sleep earlier tonight”. Wrong – they get overtired and then it is so much harder and takes longer to get them asleep. Then when you are tired and just want them to get to sleep, you have to spend extra time calming them down.
- Another aspect of preparing beforehand is looking at time management. If you are getting stressed with the fullness of what you need to achieve and no time for rest on a busy day, then it is also likely your child will suffer too from feeling that. Can you delete an activity? Is every activity necessary?
- My doctor used to recommend 4 different activities you could do late that afternoon/evening to help your children when they are overstimulated. She had discovered that any of these four activities worked wonders for her children. Firstly, if you can get to the beach, a walk/swim in salt water helps in calming and releasing toxin from the body. Secondly, a hike or lots of running and exercising burns up the excess sugar. Thirdly, a bath with Epsom salts in it works wonders. Fourthly, some time in nature can also help to destress some children.
- Under stimulate the environment at home during that time. Turn off the television, music, lights etc and go for a quieter, less stimulating environment, even for an hour.
- Sit/lie with your child in bed and read to them in a quiet environment.
- When you arise the following day(s), set the atmosphere for the home. You, as the parent, set the atmosphere. Don’t allow an overstimulated child to set the atmosphere. Take charge in the spiritual arena. Choose joy and peace. Declare the presence of the spirit of joy and peace and model it. Speak calmly. Do not allow yourself to become fired up or overstimulated and add negatively to the atmosphere. Play quiet worship music to aid the atmosphere.
- Plan in the ‘down’ times during stressful times like Christmas and also immediately afterwards. Allow chill time.
- We have noticed that when our son is overstimulated and he needs to get to sleep, that calling forth his spirit and blessing his spirit works wonders. He now asks for it especially at those times. Those nights I spend extra time sitting beside him in bed speaking blessing into his spirit. An example is “Spirit of …….., I call you forth and bless you with peace. I bless you with getting to sleep soon and having a great sleep. I bless you with knowing that you are fully accepted and loved. With knowing who you are and whose you are. I bless you with being a man after God’s own heart. I bless you with being strong and a warrior. I bless you with knowing that before the world began, God created you and desired you to be in our family. I bless you with having big dreams and seeing them come to fruition, with being a go-getter in the spiritual and physical. I bless you with favour. I bless you with being generous and your amazing generosity. I bless your prophetic gifting and your healing gifting. I bless you with being a leader. I bless you with having friends who understand you and are loyal to you. ………’s body and soul, I give you permission to go to sleep now and have a deep, restful, re-energising sleep, and ………’s spirit I give you permission to have fun with the Holy Spirit tonight and enjoy this time. I bless you with knowing that mum and dad and Princess love you and fully accept you. I bless you with knowing that God fully loves and accepts you and always walking in that.”
Enjoy this post Christmas time as hopefully you can make time to take things slower and enjoy special moments as a family.