October has come and gone. You’ve sighed your sigh of relief for getting through class Halloween parties and trick or treating with your child(ren). And now it’s time to determine how to manage the Thanksgiving Holiday that centers around food and fellowship time. This can be stressful for families with a child or children that have special needs. As a feeding therapist and a mom to a child with eosinophilia of the esophagus (EoE) these upcoming months can be nothing short of stressful!
So, here are just a few helpful tips to assist you in navigating the upcoming Thanksgiving Holiday:
- Give yourself , your family, and friends some GRACE they really do not know the journey you are on and sometimes well-meaning comments can hurt. Give them a pass; smile and move on as best you can to enjoy the time spent together.
- Have your ‘pat’ responses ready, i.e. “we are working on that food right now.”, “those food items can make him/her very sick and we want to enjoy this day with you”, “we need a place to have some quiet time”, etc.
- Plan when you arrive and how long you stay depending on the needs of your immediate family—and what happens the day of feasting. In other words plan your entrance AND exit strategy. Talk with your support network to use key words that mean one of you says the good byes while the other gets the kids ready to leave.
- Let the host(s) know that you need some flexibility with your schedule and if you’ll be bringing special food items for your child(ren)/family.
- Write a letter to mail, email and even bring to explain your current situation to others so that they may understand the situation, feel free to ask questions or offer support during the time together.
- Include in the letter and even remind the host(s) if food items need to be kept up away from little hands and if there needs to be a child-friendly and allergy free zone. There are some great examples of letters available on the internet and if you would like assistance writing a letter send me an email and I’ll be more than happy to help you out.
- Plan to have a responsible person with your child(ren) at all times to assist you in enjoying the day without additional stressors.
- And keep in mind that the focus is on fellowship and spending time together…it’s all about quality and not quantity of time.
Enjoy the holiday and the gift of time spent with family and friends. And take a breathe—you’ve got this!