Mental Health Monday: The Aftermath of Christmas with Sensitive Kids

We have had a fabulous family Christmas. It’s been intense but it’s been fun and full of love and laughter. We’ve had overnight guests, cooked for 10 on Christmas day and then another Christmas dinner for 8 on Boxing day. It’s such a busy week every year because we are the ‘hub family’ and tend to host more than anyone else for the sake of practicality. We love it, but something happens with our little boy when things get crazy.

Our usually well behaved little guy becomes completly horrible. It started on Christmas eve when we accidentally lost track of time and didn’t feed him his lunch before we left the house, we had to stop at the only place I knew I could get a quick bit of dairy free food for him and hope for the best. So he had a muffin from  a coffee shop for lunch. The rest of the day involved full blown tantrums over every single little thing, in the packed town centre (our own fault for being disorganised I suppose!). As a result, we spent far longer out and about than we had planned and of course that just made things worse. When we got home we still had tons to do and he just wanted to cling to us relentlessly. Anyone who knows our little guy will know how fiercely independent he is, and how uncharacteristic clingy behaviour is. He has been going from cuddly to lashing out at us over the tiniest thing. I’ve had to keep reminding myself that he wasn’t doing it on purpose, he was just tired and confused. We stopped the feverish tidying  and organising and played trains on the floor until his eyes started getting heavy and put him to bed, he had conked out before I had even finished reading to him.

We didn’t think much of his low appetite on Christmas eve, but after we specifically made him mashed potatoes and peas to go with christmas dinner the next day and he didn’t even touch two of his favourite foods we knew this was more than just fussiness. The over excitement had drained our little lad and then we sit him at a usually calm table with 9 other people, Christmas crackers and music and expect him to eat dinner as normal but at lunch time? No. It just wasn’t happening. We let him go, knowing there had been a bit of snacking and that we could try again later. He had a late nap, followed by a jam sandwich and more excitement – the poor kid doesn’t know which way is up and which way is down by the time he gets to bed 3 hours after his bedtime.

Boxing day rolls around and we do it all again with my side of the family (on a slightly smaller scale). There are sweets and snacks everywhere, he somehow gets away with eating an entire moo free cocolate Santa in one hit, he’s completely baffled by how much other stuff has cows milk in it so he isn’t allowed to eat it but everyone else is.

When he refused his meal again on Boxing day I felt a pang of guilt that we had put him in this position, he’s acting out because suddenly everything he knows has changed in the blink of an eye and he has no idea how to handle it.

I’m tempted to pack away the decorations early to help us get back to business as usual  as soon as possible, because my poor little guy is exhausted and miserable now, especially since all the presents are done and the people are gone. We’re just left here with wrapping paper all over the place and a super fractious little boy who is needing a lot of contact and reassurance.

So if you need me, I will be on the sofa cuddling my toddler until the new year. See you on the other side.

If you liked this you may enjoy reading…

Maria Martin

22 thoughts on “Mental Health Monday: The Aftermath of Christmas with Sensitive Kids

  1. Christmas really does effect the behaviour of children. It must be so strange for little one’s to have their routine changed so much.
    My girls have had one to many late nights and were sent to bed early last night to get some rest. It worked as they were on their best behaviour today. Phew x

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  2. As an autisitic person who struggles a lot with Christmas like wise with my son I can relate to a or. It is a big change and all the usual rules seem to go out the window so can be a confusing time X #mmbc

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  3. My sister works in a special needs school and has mentioned the impact that Christmas can have on the children, something that I hadn’t thought about before #kcacols@_karendennis

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  4. I can imagine that the lack of routine can be really challenging during the festive period. Our toddler has found it most disconcerting and has coped with it all by sleeping far more than he usually would. His older brother is back to school tomorrow so he’ll have a snap back to reality and lose his lie ins! #KCACOLS

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  5. Poor guy. I think sometimes we all can get a bit turned around by a sudden change in routine. Hope he wasn’t coming down with a bug or something #KCACOLS

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  6. I hear you 100% My 9-year-old son is very sensitive and can’t cope with a lot going on. He gets, what he calls buzzy heads. From what I understand, its a sensory overload. It can be so tough as a family as we cant go out and do as much as we would like together. #KCACOLS

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  7. Totally relate to this. The complete change of routine is so hard for little ones. Hope it’s all got back to normal. #KCACOLS

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  8. As an adult, Christmas totally throws me out, so I get how hard it is for little ones to adapt to something that only happens once a year. Hopefully things are on a more even keel for you all now xx
    #kcacols

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  9. Thanks for sharing this – I can totally relate. We went home to Australia for Christmas and my daughter whom is 2.5 years old was much more of a terrible two year old than usual. We have travelled a lot with her and whilst we have a routine, we aren’t sticklers for it. So I would say she is pretty flexible and resilient. However with the heat and different environment and so many people wanting her attention, it was just all too much for her. She was lashing out and throwing lots of tantrums and telling everyone to go away. I felt so awful and just wanted to protect her and provide a calm and quiet environment where she could relax with mummy and daddy. Parenting is definitely a constant learning process. #KCACOLS

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