Christmas, for many, is a time of joy, celebration and “rocking around the Christmas tree!”
However, for many, especially young people in care, Christmas can become a scary, difficult, and upsetting time of year. Even for those who do not celebrate Christmas, as the festive time draws near, the addition of change, social interaction, and expectations can be challenging.
To bring light to this often-stressful time of year, the Blue Sky team spoke to one of our clinical practitioners, Juliet, alongside one of our Foster Carers, Tara, about their experience and tips for preparing for Christmas.
They highlighted that many of our young people will have “a strong sense of the Christmas period being quite scary and difficult for them in terms of past memories.” Alongside this, there are other things to think about during the festive season, like what to do if you and your young person follow different religions. Here’s some of Juliet and Tara tips for preparing for Christmas…
- Have an open discussion about Christmas, giving your young person a platform to join in when they feel comfortable.
- If your young person can get overwhelmed or dysregulated on Christmas, it could be helpful to set up a quiet space somewhere in the home, such as a movie in the bedroom away from the busy Christmas atmosphere.
- Get creative! Help your young person make positive and happy memories through fun activities such as icing decorations or wreath crafting which can help boost joy and connection.
- Elf on the Shelf! A simple, yet fun Christmas tradition for younger people, have the elf doing silly things throughout December. This can also be incorporated into Christmas day itself as it gives them the chance have some fun away from all the pressures.
- Be aware of the mixed emotions a young person may be feeling about not spending Christmas with their birth family. Juliet noted that “when a child receives a present, there is a way we expect them to behave” but to not “be disappointed if the response isn’t one of a gratitude because a [young person] is processing so much more beneath the iceberg.”
Nevertheless, it can be quite easy to use up all your energy making sure that others are well, so, this year, try to put some room aside to leave some energy for you. One of our long-standing carers, LaShelle, also offered some friendly tips on self-care for the festive season....
“The work we do as Foster Carers is so important. To continue to show up for our children and young people, we must look after ourselves. It is not always easy to carve out time, but it is essential to help boost our physical, emotional, and mental health as carers. Replenishing ourselves helps us maintain a good frame of mind to continue building amazing relationships with those around us. We are doing amazing jobs, let us look after ourselves and each other.”
We want to thank all our Foster Carers for all the amazing work you do all year round, for encouraging your young people, loving them, and welcoming them into your family. Thank you for being YOU.
To listen to our full podcast on ‘Fostering at Christmas’ click here.