Christmas can be stressful enough even without Covid-19, but this year families are anxious again about the new variant and potential social restrictions. If one family member falls ill, who will care for the children? What happens with parent-child visitations if someone has tested positive?
“I’m so behind with everything this year, I’d normally have done so much more by now. It’s hard to plan when we don’t know what we doing.”Kinship carer
We know this Christmas will probably be an extra challenging time for your family, so we asked our project workers for their top tips for a stress-free break.
Avoid stressful environments
Christmas is a time of sensory overload with more people in the home, sounds and lights. Many kinship children have complex behaviours, which may become more pronounced as the other children at school plan for their family Christmas with parents.
With some kinship children who have difficulty managing their emotions, it may be helpful not to create too much excitement around Christmas, but instead to stick with routines and offer a lot space and time for the child to decompress.
Plan ahead and think if there is likely to be any triggers for stress or anxiety coming up that you can make easier. An example could be if you know a full sit down Christmas dinner with veggies might be hard work for your children, relax and acknowledge that they don’t need to eat the same as everyone else. This also means you’re not stressed and can enjoy your dinner too!
Contact with family is a big issue at Christmas.
Where there is a legal order in place and the court has ordered contact with the parent(s), this should be complied with unless to do so would put the child you are caring for, or others at risk. If your child or someone in their household has contracted the Covid-19 virus, or they are displaying any of the symptoms listed on the Government health advice pages, they should be self-isolating and should not move between households. This is in line with the Government advice for households with a possible Covid-19 infection.
You should try and be as accommodating as possible to allow contact to take place in another way. Think creatively about how you can support your child to stay in touch with their parent(s) during any period of self-isolation. For example, Skype or Facetime can be a great way to catch up and can be used to read stories, sing or play together. With older children you could also consider a watch party, where you gather online to watch a movie or video, commenting and ‘reacting’ in real time.
“It’s making me anxious just even thinking about talking to her (birth Mum) about the Christmas arrangements.”Kinship carer
Where to find help
Our advice service will close from Friday 24th December and reopen on Tuesday 4th January 2022. If your situation is urgent you can turn to:
- Call the NSPCC on 0808 800 5000 if you’re concerned about the safety of a child.
- Contact Family Lives on 0808 808 2222 if you need emotional support and advice about contact with grandchildren.
- Contact Samaritans if you need someone to talk to.
Remember that our website is full of free expert advice for kinship careers. You can start by having a look at our frequently asked questions.