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Mother holding her baby at Christmas time

Resources

Tips for the holiday season

No matter what the holiday season looks like for your family, here are some ideas that may help you through this time of year.

The Christmas season has different meanings for different people. For some, it’s a time of special significance and celebration. For others, it might be a particularly challenging time of year.

These are our suggestions on ways to manage this time of year. Not everything in this article will be right for everyone, but we hope some of these ideas will be useful to you.

1 – Honour your emotions

There’s no right or wrong way to feel. Share your feelings by talking to people who will understand you and support you.

“Christmas is always an emotional and stressful time and New Year’s Eve is very hard also because the future is no longer known. You feel really vulnerable during this festive time when everyone is looking forward and planning and making resolutions.”
– Parent

2 – Be gentle with yourself

Have realistic expectations about what’s possible and what you can do. Keeping plans small can make things easier.

“Remember that plans can always be changed. It’s okay.”
– Jo, Redkite social worker

3 – Talk about changes

Children will cope better with any changes to the Christmas routine when they know what to expect and what might be different.

“Take the cue from your child about what they need from you. Some children will need more time to process; others could become anxious if they have too much time to think about things. Trust your instincts.”
– Linda, Redkite social worker

4 – Share the tasks

Have realistic expectations about what’s possible and what you can do. Keeping plans small can make things easier.

“Family and friends can help ease the pressure by not putting any expectations on you during the Christmas period, and just letting you know they are there if you need any help. Even offering to pick up Christmas presents or do a food shop for you can be so beneficial.”
– Kim, parent

5 – Enjoy the moment

It can help to acknowledge the positives – even small things. Sometimes the best moments are those we don’t plan for.

“While you think about your future, enjoy your present. Try to get as much enjoyment out of every day as you can.”
– Lachlan

6 – Be flexible

It’s absolutely okay to have a plan, but try to stay as flexible as you can if things change.

“We made Christmas special by decorating his hospital room, having a tree and playing Christmas carols. Our extended family took turns to visit us throughout the day because we couldn’t all fit in the room at once! But we were able to enjoy a slightly different Christmas dinner together and exchange gifts.”
– Kim, parent

7 – Create new traditions

You might want to consider how you’d like to acknowledge those who aren’t with you this year, if this is your situation. Remember, Redkite is here to support you.

“Just always try to remember those positives. Even though our son was only here for a short time, really in that short time he still taught us a lot and I continue to reflect on that, rather than the negatives.”
– Father, 10 years bereaved

8 – Gifts come in many forms

When it comes to presents, focus on the act of giving, rather than the gift itself.

“Let your friends and family in. Really let them in. It’s a big gift to let someone care for you.”
– Stephen

9 – Remember support is there

If you need to reach out for help, don’t hesitate to do so.

“Having experienced Christmas with a child going through cancer treatment, we know how difficult this time of year is. The usual stresses and costs can be too much to cope with. At Christmas, Redkite was there, providing support.”
– Debie and Matthew, parents

10 – It’s your Christmas

Whatever Christmas means to you, do what you need to do to make it yours.

“The heart of Christmas is often simple activities. These are the things that children enjoy and remember.”
– Helen, Redkite social worker

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