|Photo: Jenny Herman|
Social gathering with special needs kids
I suppose the degree to which social events are stressful for your family and children depends on their specific challenges and each event, but I think we are all dealing with it on a weekly if not daily basis. My general thoughts on having a social life: I get so very darn lonely. I crave having an adult friend to just shoot the breeze with. Sigh, but the idea of meeting new people, giving disclaimers about my kids' behaviors, wondering if they are going to have a meltdown.... Just thinking about having to make conversation is beyond exhausting. I'd rather crawl back in a cave and get on Social media with other Autism mamas. The thing is, this seems to be the exact same thing I hear from most of these other special needs moms!
We were made to be in community
Gah. I sometimes dread hearing that, but I know it's true. So I try to say yes to as many adult social invites as possible, and make an effort to be involved in my church. I do feel better when I am involved in a small group and not a nameless face in a crowd. But even in those small groups, there can be some toe-stepping. Especially when some members don't understand special needs kids and the diversity within that group.
Holidays multiply the invites and compound the stress
Have you been invited to 3 breakfast with Santa events? Your spouse's work party, your small group's party, and the co-op party? Then there are the poor December birthday kids (like both of mine) who hope you make it to their party. The church needs extra volunteers for the bigger service, but you were also asked by both sides of your family to spend the time with them.
These are all great things, and we tend not to use our "small no" so that we can save our "yes" for our "BEST yes" (Thank you Lysa TerKeurst). Stop. Take a deep breath, and say no thank you to whatever events are making your stress meter go into the red. You are not doing yourself or anyone a favor bringing stressed out, tired, kids/mom to an event that's supposed to be full of holiday cheer! lol
For the events you say yes to
Don't say no to everything though, or you will be missing out! Plan to make the most of your best yes, help your host understand your children's needs, and be an effective voice for your children. I know of a free printable from Jenny Herman to help you do just that. Jenny is a fellow special needs mom and homeschooler. She created this printable especially for you, to help take some of the stress out of your holiday gatherings!