Saturday, April 19, 2014

Making Holidays work for us - egg hunts, flying dye, and the grass that sticks to everything

Easter Sunday is only a few days away for our Catholic family. I have wonderful memories growing up of church services, egg decorating and basket hunting. All these things were followed by a big family dinner and a grudge-match hunt for foil wrapped treats and coins on my grandmother's lawn. Truth be told, we pulled up more lawn than we did treats during those hunts as we gleefully shoved each other out of the way to find our desired treasures. Now that I reflect on this beloved tradition, I cringe at both the preparations and the message that was sent, but I cannot deny the happiness I feel when I think of those times.

Fast forward to the present day. With three children of my own and a varied assortment of next generation's cousins ranging in ages from 4 - 12, our own Easter Sunday could be the same as when we were young. Except that Little Miss M would not process the events of my childhood as fun, but as torture. The end result would most likely be a full-scale meltdown with very little chance of recovery.

As she grew, and her needs became more and more apparent, we began to tailor our holidays to fit our children. We want them to have so many of the treasured memories we hold dear to our hearts but in a way that works for them to be successful and happy. The first thing we got rid of was that silly, shredded Easter grass. It was a sensory nightmare for my girl and quite honestly for me too! We would find it mixed in with toys until the following Easter. Although a small thing, it really did help!

Next came egg-dying. I have learned the hard way that this is another activity I cannot handle by myself. My husband grew up dying everything and anything he and his sister could find in the fridge, including potatoes, bread and the like. They did it to drive their mother crazy and they were certainly successful. So, I had to find a happy medium. One where the dye wasn't sloshing all over my kids and the kitchen, but one where they were having a good time. We're still fine-tuning this adventure, but since I had my husband take tomorrow off - that will be egg decorating day. We will hopefully work outside, since then my kitchen will remain as is and not a tye-dye spectacular.

As for egg-hunts, I have to credit my mom with this. For each child that comes to Easter dinner - there are 10 eggs of one color. Each child is responsible for finding only their color and all eggs are filled equally. There are no more tears during the Easter egg hunt and the kids enjoy searching for eggs rather then trying to beat each other.

Lastly, there is church. I wish I could tell you I dressed my little ducklings up, put on their bonnets and off we went, but that simply isn't how it goes. I do wrestle with some guilt, but I have to do what's best for the majority. Most years my husband goes to the vigil on Saturday evening while I assemble the baskets. He prays for all of us. Our church has a very small "crying room" and the large, crowded space, length of mass, and so many more things really seem to set Little Miss M off. In addition, Baby Z has reached that very active toddler stage. We're working on this part of everything, but we do discuss the religious meanings of the holiday as they pertain to our family and that it really is about more then a big bunny!

I hope you have a wonderful holiday if you are celebrating, or that you enjoy the day if you are not!

Do you have a tradition that you've tailored for your special needs loved one? Share it in the comments below.

Amanda still fights the urge not to body check people out of her way during egg hunts, but don't worry she's working on this issue.

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