I know it’s premature, and i know that i’ll be really sick of it by Christmas day, but our tree went up this weekend. And now i need to brace myself for 4 weeks of overtired, over excited, slightly delirious kids.
I’m easily over stimulated at the best of times – i hate noise, bright lights, scratchy textures – but Christmas is a whole other level of sensory overload.
Here’s some tips for avoiding sensory overload at home during this excitable festive period:
Declutter. I know, i know, how is that possible at this time of year? Cards, decorations, kids off school. I’m trying not to get too attached to ‘stuff’, ditching post once its been read, putting toys away before bed etc etc.
Minimise screen time. This time of year is brilliant for TV/Movies generally, but i try to only switch the box on when theres something i/we want to watch – instead of leaving it on all the time as background noise. (I hate that!!!)
Pay attention to lighting (not too bright! And maybe forego the ‘flashing’ option on the tree lights…), noise volume, and heat. A ‘hot’ house can make for ‘hot’ tempers.
Try to achieve a balance of activities through the day – activity, followed by rest time, followed by refuelling etc.
Set limits for duration of activities – screen time, social time, phone calls, interactions, exposure to crowds and noise. How long can you/your kids tolerate these before they begin to irritate? Make sure to stop them before that stage is reached.
Rest. Sleep in (I wish!), lounge on the sofa, plan activities for the afternoon. This time of year, more than ever, its important to make sure you/your kids get enough rest.
Ok. Thats it. I’ll try my best to do all of this (because i haven’t achieved it any year before!).
Unfortunately my son’s (our chosen) school is too far away for us to walk there.
I’ve given us a week to get accustomed to the early morning routine, and now, i plan to drive some of the way and make us walk the rest (perhaps a mile or so). And here’s why:
Daylight. Do i really need to explain why this is a good thing? Exposing our kids to daylight helps us synchronise important biorhythms, it is critical for promoting alertness, it raises our mood, and helps us to produce vitamin D.
Exercise. When i was a kid, we didn’t need to ‘exercise’. Playing was exercise, because playing was not sitting, or being indoors, it was running and riding bikes and building camps. However, sometimes today’s kids need a little extra help to get the right amount of exercise, and its important because it helps maintain the right body weight, builds strong muscles and bones and improves the quantity and quality of sleep we achieve.
Air. Ok i accept that depending upon where you live, your child may or may not be able to gulp lung fulls of ‘fresh air’, but regardless, they need ventilation. And arguably, the quality of indoor air can be far worse than the quality of outdoor air, even if you live in the city. Imagine all of those bugs coming out of snotty little noses and circulating around the classroom. Lovely.
Sensory (proprioceptive) input. Kids need heavy work. I don’t mean sewing in a clothing factory, or working a production line. I mean, pushing, pulling, lifting, moving. Heavy resistance and input to the muscles and joints is essential for sensory processing and has a calming effect on the nervous system. Walking provides your child with calming sensory input.
Time. Walking to school gives you and your child precious ‘now’ time to talk, share and reconnect. Or complain and drag heels….as the case may be!