Thanksgiving is almost here, and you’re freaking out, right? I get it. I’ve been there, year after year. You’re worried about multiple things: how will I travel with my child without a meltdown (his or mine)? How can I manage his special diet when he’s around all those treats and goodies? How can I take advantage of all the Black Friday deals with a child in tow?
How am I going to keep it together??
Those are great questions – I’ve dealt with all of them and more, until I realized that those questions take the focus off the holidays and what they’re really all about.
Thanksgiving, love it or hate it, not only gives us a chance to visit family and friends we rarely see, it also gives us an opportunity to be thankful to God for what we do have:
- Be thankful for your child. They’ve changed your life, haven’t they? And you know that despite the pain, there is good growth, knowledge and experience that has made you a better person.
- Be thankful for autism. It sucks, but it’s made YOU the hardcore fighter your precious child needs you to be. You rock Mama!
- Be thankful that you live in this day and age, when you can investigate autism recovery options for yourself, try cutting edge techniques, alternative schools and amazing therapies to help your child, when we know that his autism is NOT your fault but caused by the toxic environment we can’t avoid, and when laws exist to give your child rights, like an inclusive education. These realities weren’t always the case.
- Be thankful that you haven’t given up on yourself. Or have you? I know, I have BEEN THERE. And yes, even now, I visit that land of “I’m not good enough” all the time. But take heart! God can give you the confidence to live up to this challenge of parenting, including forgiving your past mistakes and walking with your head held high. None of it is easy, but the rewards, oh man, the rewards are awesome when you do – like the love you see in your child’s eyes because she knows you’d do anything for her and you are her hero.
- Love the people around you, even if they drive you crazy. Your friends and family are your strength in times of trouble, and if you have faith, God is your answer ALWAYS.
- Give all this thanks to God. He’s your support in times of trouble, your backup, your co-pilot, your best friend, your loving Father. Jesus called God “Abba” – did you know that’s the verbal equivalent of “Daddy”? Not Dad, not Father, not Pop, but Daddy. That’s how he wants you to love Him, like a little child. It took Him nearly 20 years to get through to my thick skull but saying “yes” to Him is the only way I survive and thrive the many, many hard days parents like us have to live through.
Meanwhile, here are some strategies to help you cut down the stress and get back to enjoying the holidays:
If You’re Visiting Family:
The only way our loved ones will understand what is going on with your child is if you explain. Ok, truthfully? They still might not understand. Don’t take offense when they are clueless, but continue to educate and let it go when they’re not. After all, you only see them once in a while. We’ve been through it all, with family, so if you have to just let it go and cut the night short if you find your temper and stress levels are rising.
If You’re Traveling:
Pack electronics, or games, and objects they can chew, or snacks, or books. Heck, just load up the car with all the must-have tech you need for traveling. And if you need to, sit in the back with the kids so they keep their seat belts on! Always keep additional clothes and wipes on hand, too. Finally, while I know you want to get the road trip over with, take the breaks you need to – not just for restrooms and coffee, but to stretch your legs.
If You’re Cooking Special Foods:
Get a bag that will keep your food warm or cold. Carry lightweight containers too. (I know nontoxic cookware is best, but using a tin foil or plastic container just for transporting food items a few times a year won’t kill anyone.) Do your best with food options and don’t freak out if they cheat. Stock up on enzymes, probiotics, and activated charcoal so you can start the gut cleaning. I recommend suspending super strict diets during the holidays. The GAPS Diet, for example, will be a lot of work and stress on you, so work on it another time.
Meanwhile, enlist the kids to help you cook. They will love it and learn a real life skill. As you do, take your time when cooking – I find that I cut and burn myself while cooking less when I do that. That means you’ll need to plan ahead, making sure you have the timing right. Make sure you shop with all your apps to save money or use my referral link at Thrive Market to buy goods in advance at the lowest prices. Not only that, but you get 15% off with your first order and then you can refer others to get a great referral fee yourself! Here are more tips on how to shop organic for less.
If You Want to Shop:
Skip Black Friday and try Cyber Monday instead. I saw an ad on 11/3 saying Black Friday prices were here NOW. Do yourself a real favor and Christmas shop online – any time is fine! My favorite place is Ebates – here is my referral link. Sign up for free, shop at your favorite stores and earn cash back on every purchase.
If You’re All Too Tired or Sick:
You’ll be doubly tired once the tryptophan from all that turkey – organic or not – kicks in so relax and make a plan. If you’re child has a meltdown, correct it if you can and then let her rest afterwards with some downtime: a favorite movie, an iPhone or maybe it’s time to call it a night. Make a plan with your family to leave when you’re getting hints that things are going bad – avoid the meltdowns and take the food to go if necessary!
Finally, if you can’t get your child out the door in the first place or he is sick, sit this one out. We’ve done it before. There WILL be many more holidays ahead and with interventions and maturity, your child can learn to manage them better. Know what you’re asking of him and plan around his desires. It doesn’t have to be like this forever!
Holiday Food Suggestions
May I suggest that you buy an organic turkey (when possible? You can buy one at Wegman’s or Whole Food Markets, if you are early enough in the season. I suggest you wrap it in uncured, no nitrate added bacon and stuff with what you like.
And REAL FOOD cranberry is a must for me, brings back childhood memories. Why? OK, really embarrassing thing about me: as a kid/young adult, I LOVE turkey TV dinners. And what I loved best was the little scoop of cranberry sauce they used to have, before they ripped out and put in that lousy cranberry crumble – yuck! I’ve hunted the proper cranberry sauce -not that toxic gelatinous crap that comes in a can but the toxic gelatinous crap that comes in tin TV dinner plate, LOL! Then I found this recipe, which is delicious and healthy too.
So those are my tips for surviving Thanksgiving and the holidays. May your day be blessed, your child be peaceful and your food be allergen free!
Originally posted 11/22/12.