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Ep 16: Legos, Alone Time & Adjusted Expectations: How to Survive the Holidays with Neurodiverse Kids

Updated: Jan 10

As parents of neurodiverse kids, navigating the holidays can be…. a lot.

Trying to get our kids to tolerate all the events, all the activities, and all the routine changes on top of everything else is exhausting, frustrating, and quite frankly, maybe not worth it for us and our kids. And who says we actually have to do all of this stuff anyway?

In today’s episode, we’re sharing our best holiday tips for surviving the holiday season, including managing schedules, adjusting the gift-giving process, and resetting expectations for what a fun holiday looks like.

The truth is, the holiday season doesn’t have to look any certain way. We get to decide what works best for our families and how we want to enjoy this precious time we get with them.

We’re also sharing our very best tip for keeping our kids happy and content during the holiday. (It may include some brick-building sets…) And Rylan shares an extra special holiday recipe during The Last Word.

If you’re already feeling a little overwhelmed by the holiday season coming up, this episode is for you!

In this episode, you’ll learn...

  • [02:19] Why the holiday break is so different from summer break when it comes to the change in routine for neurodiverse kids

  • [08:04] How managing –and not over-scheduling– events during the holiday season can help your stress level during the holiday season

  • [13:20] Why you might want to rethink your process of gift-giving for neurodiverse kids

  • [16:34] Why Legos are absolutely magical for neurodiverse kids during the holiday season

  • [18:09] Why prioritizing your favorite holiday activities can be so helpful and why it’s okay to let go of the ones that don’t work for your family

  • [24:12] Why letting go of societal expectations and embracing what works for your unique kids can make the holidays so much more enjoyable

  • [28:04] Aaaaand that includes letting go or adjusting formal dinners if you need to

  • [30:44] The Last Word

If you just can't get enough of us, don’t forget to join our newsletter and check out our other projects.

Links mentioned in this episode…

Downloads Rylan's Geode Recipe:

candy geodes
Download PDF • 888KB

Transcript for "Ep 16: Legos, Alone Time, and Adjusted Expectations: How to Survive the Holidays with Neurodiverse Kids"

[00:00:05] Gwen: If you have an appreciation for honest and sometimes irreverent conversations about parenting and walking alongside humans with neurodiversity, you're in the right place. I'm Gwen. [00:00:17][11.1]

[00:00:18] Kristen: And I'm Kristen. And together we have decades of experience parenting fiercely amazing neurodiverse humans as well as teaching, writing, advocating, and consulting. All of this has provided us with an endless supply of stories of inspiring failures and heartbreaking wins. [00:00:33][15.6]

[00:00:35] Gwen: Welcome to You Don't Want a Hug, Right? We promise to come at you each episode as our true selves, sharing the hilarity and delight in the midst of the heart of our journeys. Most importantly, though, we hope to remind you of your immense value as a human being outside of the parenting role that you play. [00:00:54][19.9]

[00:00:56] Kristen: So grab a cozy blanket and a beverage and go hide in the closet nearest you. [00:01:00][4.0]

[00:01:03] Gwen: Welcome back, friends. We're here. [00:01:05][1.9]

[00:01:07] Kristen: We're here. Are you here? [00:01:08][0.8]

[00:01:09] Gwen: It's okay if you can say no. If you're just halfway here, a quarter of the way to here, that's good enough for us. We are not fully here. And we're the podcasters. [00:01:19][9.8]

[00:01:21] Kristen: Right. So if you've just run away from your family and are walking aimlessly about in the nearby woods or in your neighborhood listening to us. [00:01:30][8.8]

[00:01:31] Gwen: Or in the bathroom shower. [00:01:32][0.9]

[00:01:33] Kristen: That's right. We see you blink twice if you're okay. [00:01:36][3.8]

[00:01:37] Gwen: Yeah. Kristen and I do not have young children at home with us, so we are able to put some semblance of thoughts together during the day for this podcast. But we understand if you are not. [00:01:50][12.3]

[00:01:51] Kristen: Exactly. So we thought today we would bring you some tips for the winter holiday and break season. [00:01:58][6.5]

[00:01:59] Gwen: Hmm. Kristen, tell us why the content of this episode might be like because I even said like, do we need to do that? We did tips for summer and vacation. But you so eloquently laid out how different the holiday season is. Could you please recap what you stated earlier for our listeners? [00:02:16][17.7]

[00:02:19] Kristen: Sure. I think things that winter break are different from summer break because it's shorter. They have less time to acclimate and regroup. There's weather limitations. It's dark at four something every day. There are a lot of holiday celebrations throughout the time off that make things really variable and schedule. So whether it's Hanukkah or Christmas or Kwanzaa, people are doing all kinds of different things. The food is different, right? There's all kinds of traditional foods. We're going to we're going to get into that a little later. And the energy is rather psychotic for everyone. [00:02:55][36.0]

[00:02:58] Gwen: Because we're all trying to buy things, which in and of itself will be one of our points. Just the purchasing of things and the expectation and anticipation. And there's the Santa. Yeah. Which may or may not freak the heck out of some of our kids, right? [00:03:17][18.8]

[00:03:18] Kristen: Yeah, there's the whole Santa thing, which for us that observe that holiday, it's such a weird thing to lie to your kids about weird and has nothing to do with Jesus. So it's just a it's a hot mess of a holiday. [00:03:32][13.8]

[00:03:32] Gwen: But like, if you're like me, we make our children sit on a man's lap who is claiming to be the Santa every single year. [00:03:41][8.4]

[00:03:42] Kristen: No, that did not happen for the Kaisers. I think they would have bit him. Yeah. Ganged up and overwhelmed him. [00:03:48][7.0]

[00:03:49] Gwen: Well, I'm in most of their photos, because Rylan eventually just learned how to get with the frickin program with Santa. Because. Hello. This is things that we must do to say that we parenting a young child. Yeah, it's all ludicrous. [00:04:06][16.3]

[00:04:06] Kristen: And we'll maybe get into that. What we think we have to do a little later too. But right now, do you have a good Rylan ism to start us off with that's holiday related? [00:04:14][8.2]

[00:04:16] Gwen: I'm going to save those for the actual episode, but I do have a really sweet and encouraging Ryan ism that happened just yesterday. We were looking at colleges, meaning we went to a college fair weeks ago and we have had that much time to process what we saw, and I thought it would be okay to sit down and look at one of the colleges he was interested in. And so we did. And he's a junior. So we're really working ahead on this because we need to. He's interested in a college in Michigan that has a program designed specifically for autistic students. So we were looking at this college and we decided that maybe he could just send an email to the director of the autism program. And he did. And he wrote it himself, and I just approved it. And he said, My name is Rylan. I did write a book in case you wanted to check it out. And I am autistic and interested in your program because you will help me learn how to live on my own and go to class. Wow. Sincerely, Rylan. [00:05:26][70.7]

[00:05:28] Kristen: Oh my God. That's amazing. [00:05:28][0.2]

[00:05:29] Gwen: I know. I was super proud. And then he was done and moved on. But I was thrilled. And we already heard back. And we scheduled the tour in December. [00:05:38][9.1]

[00:05:40] Kristen: That's great. [00:05:40][0.3]

[00:05:41] Gwen: Isn't that great? [00:05:41][0.4]

[00:05:42] Kristen: That is great. [00:05:42][0.4]

[00:05:44] Gwen: This has nothing to do with whether or not he'll go or find success, but it felt like a step. [00:05:49][5.4]

[00:05:50] Kristen: Live in the now is what I say. [00:05:51][1.6]

[00:05:52] Gwen: Yeah. Do you have a Graham ism for us? [00:05:53][1.4]

[00:05:55] Kristen: I do. Mine is Christmas related. And we are not religious folk. I did grow up in the Catholic Church. So I do like a little ritual with my Christmas. I love to go to in our Christmas Eve mass. And the years in which I really tried to get my kids to do this, it was always torturous. The last time we did this was a few years ago, so my kids were in high school. It's usually a madhouse, right? There's so many people that are also trying to have that as part of their holiday experience. And big crowds are not Graham's favorite. And we were really on the verge of a meltdown sitting in our seats waiting for this to start. And Graham was leaning forward in his seat with his eyes closed, just kind of rocking a little bit. Like I could tell, he was close to not being okay. And I was like, Buddy, what is what's the problem? I mean, because we had the switch with us. We had all of the video gaming technology one could need for such an event. And he was like, I just don't understand why we have to do this every year. It's like, duh, I already know what happens to Jesus. [00:07:09][74.1]

[00:07:14] Gwen: He is born. He goes on a cross. [00:07:17][2.3]

[00:07:17] Kristen: I already know the story. How many times do we have to hear the same story? Big sigh. And, you know, what do you say to that? [00:07:25][7.2]

[00:07:26] Gwen: It's hard. I have a very similar Jesus story that I will share you as we get into this episode. Did Graham finish the service successfully? [00:07:37][10.7]

[00:07:38] Kristen: No, he left midway through and he sat out in the lobby area very impatiently. I might add. [00:07:46][8.2]

[00:07:47] Gwen: Yeah. [00:07:47][0.0]

[00:07:48] Kristen: Yeah. Yeah. So, anyway, tips for the holiday season. [00:07:52][4.1]

[00:07:54] Gwen: All right. We do have some tips and we're going to put them into camps. So what is our first camp that we can highlight? [00:08:02][7.9]

[00:08:04] Kristen: Well, I think we can highlight the idea of not over scheduling during this very precious time. Mm hmm. I don't know if you all have been in school buildings leading up to the winter break. But it was like a slow moving, natural disaster. [00:08:21][16.6]

[00:08:21] Gwen: Slow moving. I wouldn't even say slow moving. [00:08:24][2.2]

[00:08:25] Kristen: True. True. It is a bunch of novel activities, sugar, movies, all kinds of things. As they get older, of course, they're throwing in major exams around this time, thrown in amongst the celebrating. And it really throws our kids over the edge before they even get home for the break. [00:08:46][21.5]

[00:08:47] Gwen: There's no structure. Every day is different. [00:08:49][2.5]

[00:08:50] Kristen: Yeah, it's a really weird. And the energy in the building is just that's where I'm talking about that. Like psychotic level energy. It's just next level because the kids know that the change is coming. They know that the chaos is coming and maybe they're excited at the same time that they're terrified. [00:09:09][18.2]

[00:09:10] Gwen: Or they're terrified because they know their mom's bringing them to Santa that night. [00:09:13][3.1]

[00:09:15] Kristen: Or making them sit through Jesus's story once again. [00:09:18][3.1]

[00:09:20] Gwen: Yeah, you're right. And the teachers are spent. [00:09:22][2.4]

[00:09:23] Kristen: Yeah. They're so done. [00:09:24][0.8]

[00:09:24] Gwen: Which might be why all of these things happen at that time of year. Because everybody's stir crazy. They're adjusting to not being outside as much because the weather has shifted. [00:09:35][10.5]

[00:09:36] Kristen: Yeah, because it's dark at like four. So I think our tip is really like not to overschedule and this is such a hard thing to do this particular time of year for this break because we're trying to really shove in some family experiences. We have family visiting. We're visiting family. There are lots of, you know, let's try ice skating, let's get some skiing in, let's build a snowman. [00:10:02][26.8]

[00:10:04] Gwen: Make so many cookies. [00:10:05][0.4]

[00:10:06] Kristen: Make so many cookies. [00:10:07][0.2]

[00:10:07] Gwen: And decorate them with multiple colors of frosting. [00:10:10][2.4]

[00:10:11] Kristen: And then maybe, like the neighborhood has caroling happening, which is unannounced at the front door, a bunch of people staring at you while they sing. [00:10:20][9.1]

[00:10:23] Gwen: Almost scary. [00:10:27][3.4]

[00:10:28] Kristen: Yeah, it's almost scary for me. I don't know what to do with my hands. I don't know what to do with myself. Really awkward. [00:10:33][5.4]

[00:10:34] Gwen: So we just show a lot of teeth, teeth, smiling. [00:10:37][3.6]

[00:10:38] Kristen: Like we just run and turn off all the lights. [00:10:40][2.1]

[00:10:42] Gwen: It's like Halloween, but yeah, so different. [00:10:45][2.4]

[00:10:46] Kristen: Halloween but with singing. [00:10:47][0.8]

[00:10:48] Gwen: Maybe instead of caroling at your door, they could just stand in the streets. And if you want to hear it, you can just crack your window. [00:10:55][6.4]

[00:10:55] Kristen: It's a great idea. Yeah. Send out a neighborhood memo. [00:10:58][2.7]

[00:10:59] Gwen: Yeah, I think that's a good idea. You don't think Graham enjoys standing in the door watching people sign in his face. [00:11:05][6.0]

[00:11:07] Kristen: With the dog barking like a maniac and everybody's screaming at the dog to stop barking? [00:11:11][4.6]

[00:11:14] Gwen: I feel like that tradition has died down, though, Don't you? [00:11:16][3.0]

[00:11:17] Kristen: I do. I do. But I think it's made a comeback in some neighborhoods, so I'm just throwing it out there as an example of a an activity that might be a little tough. But anyway, all that to say that really choosing wisely the things that you're going to engage and like get a big bang for your buck and make sure that the rest of the time is fairly scheduled. Like try to stick to your kid's schedule as much as you can, I think really helps. [00:11:43][26.5]

[00:11:44] Gwen: And that might mean just letting them come home, fall apart and sit on a screen for three hours. Yeah, I have never done this until recently, but Kristen has always encouraged me. Yes. To let go of any sort of taming of the screen time in hard seasons and now I don't. But I use the excuse that it's a social time. So that has helped me because it is a social time. [00:12:11][26.7]

[00:12:11] Kristen: It is. It is. I was recently talking to Hayden and we were talking about his middle school years and early high school years where his screen time was where he built his friendships. One of those friends is his current college roommate, and that group of friends are still very close. So it was actually the way he was able to build into some friendships. So there are some there are some positives. We don't usually hear about the positives, but I do think there are some. [00:12:41][29.4]

[00:12:41] Gwen: And I think that's a whole episode because his screen time really has essentially taught him tons of invaluable information like that kids of rock science genius because of Minecraft, for example. And he is moderating the world, as you heard in our previous episode, in his last word, he's learning how to moderate a team of friends around Minecraft, and he has Dungeons and Dragons and it wouldn't happen without screens. So it's good. Let it happen. [00:13:15][33.6]

[00:13:16] Kristen: Just let it go. Let it go. So another one that I have is and this might be I have to believe there are other families out there going through this, but not knowing what are in the presents for the holiday celebration. Extremely anxiety producing for my children and so limiting gifts. And if there's a really highly motivating one that this child has requested and has been waiting for with bated breath. Just give them the gift right away. I mean, give them the gift, because we have done every variation of this over the years. Social stories, timers like schedules leading up to the day. Just because there's an electronic item sitting wrapped under the tree tormenting this child. [00:14:07][51.4]

[00:14:08] Gwen: Well and it torments them before it arrives because they watch the door. [00:14:11][3.6]

[00:14:13] Kristen: Right. Then there may be telling you 100 times in case you forgot, that's the one they really want. Do you think that they're going to get that one? Can I just tell them if they're going to get that one? And then. Ultimately, it ends at 3 a.m.. Days before Christmas with that child just ripping the paper off the present and having it in their room because they couldn't. They just couldn't handle it. [00:14:39][25.2]

[00:14:39] Gwen: Tell us exactly how that happened, please. [00:14:41][1.8]

[00:14:42] Kristen: He just he reached his limit, threw open the door. I heard him pounding down the stairs in the middle of the night, comes pounding back up the stairs because there's no quiet. And I just hear that the ripping of paper. [00:14:58][15.9]

[00:15:00] Gwen: Did you just let it happen? [00:15:01][1.6]

[00:15:03] Kristen: Yes. Just turned to Greg and said, there he goes. He couldn't do it. He couldn't do it. [00:15:07][4.1]

[00:15:10] Gwen: And then how does he react on Christmas morning if the gift is already open? Does he care? [00:15:15][5.5]

[00:15:16] Kristen: No, he couldn't care less. As a matter of fact, even as a little, Graham would open one present and then he would be done. He would not want to open the others because it was too overwhelming. He's like, I got this truck. I love this truck. I'm good. I'm good to go. Yeah. And trying to talk him into opening the other presents was was actually kind of hard. [00:15:35][18.9]

[00:15:36] Gwen: Isn't that a beautiful depiction though of maybe what we could aim for? For everybody? [00:15:41][5.5]

[00:15:43] Kristen: Yeah. I mean. [00:15:43][0.6]

[00:15:44] Gwen: What if we just got a couple things that were special to us and that's it, Yeah, let me just go play with our trucks. [00:15:51][7.3]

[00:15:52] Kristen: They would get overwhelmed. All of them would get overwhelmed with just knowing what to do with themselves as they open the present. Usually they would just open it and then throw it to the side, and then they're frantically looking for the next one. Like they just can't regulate anything during this time. [00:16:09][16.9]

[00:16:10] Gwen: That's how every child is. [00:16:11][1.0]

[00:16:12] Kristen: Yeah, but it's bizarre. [00:16:13][1.2]

[00:16:14] Gwen: In my experience. Throw the present to the side. Yes, it was a $400 Lego set. Dash it to the side, prance away all. [00:16:22][8.5]

[00:16:23] Kristen: You too need to try and make those Lego sets last as long as you can. Gosh, hide them and only bring one out at a time. Because my kids would finish a Lego set in three hours flat. [00:16:33][9.9]

[00:16:34] Gwen: Well, that's why we go for the the big guns now. Mm hmm. We go and buy a used like $800 Lego set every year because that's how I get through the time off. Yeah. And he will sit at a table alone for four days. Yeah. Until that bad boy is done. And then I'm scrambling. But, if we don't give him that Lego set every year. Oof. [00:17:04][29.8]

[00:17:05] Kristen: Yeah. It's been a lifesaver for us, too, because it is the one thing that will take most of the hours of multiple days and only getting up to pee and maybe forcing them to eat, but they can focus like nobody's business. [00:17:19][13.6]

[00:17:20] Gwen: Yeah. We've got some amazing finished Legos because he won't take them back apart and he doesn't play with them. Same We just display them on a shelf. Yep. And then he shows it to everybody who enters the home for probably the next six months. But then after that. Done. Yep. Lego subscription is a great idea if you have the financial means because they send you a new Lego, whatever it's called, every month. [00:17:51][31.7]

[00:17:52] Kristen: Oh, that's amazing. [00:17:53][0.5]

[00:17:53] Gwen: And then you send it back. Oh, yeah. [00:17:56][2.6]

[00:17:57] Kristen: That is amazing. Yeah. [00:17:58][1.6]

[00:17:59] Gwen: It's not cheap. [00:18:00][0.5]

[00:18:01] Kristen: Put that in the show notes. [00:18:01][0.8]

[00:18:02] Gwen: But it is a great idea if you can afford it. [00:18:04][2.2]

[00:18:06] Kristen: All right. Hit us with another tip. [00:18:07][1.2]

[00:18:10] Gwen: For us, pinpointing the things that are really special to you as a parent. And making a list. You could laminate it if you wanted. And then going through that list and determining what of these things will work for our family. So I back in the day loved nothing more than Please don't laugh at me than a live Nativity. [00:18:34][24.0]

[00:18:35] Kristen: Oh, my goodness. [00:18:36][1.2]

[00:18:38] Gwen: So we thought, well, this is fun. We can bundle the kids up. There was a great one in Littleton, Colorado. I did a lot of research to find it. It seemed very authentic. It was on a farm property with a barn. So we walked, I don't know, half a mile to get there, which wasn't ideal, but we got there and we're in the barn and it's like December 22nd, right? Because they're not going to do it on Christmas Eve. Rylan was not happy about that. So we get in there and there is a woman and a man playing Mary and Joseph, and they are holding a live baby and there are sheep and there are some baby, I don't know, mongoose. I don't know what was there. There was an animal not at all appropriate in the Nativity story. I remember that. So Riley gets in there and he's climbing the fence and sticking his head over, trying to get a real good look at whatever the animal was that didn't belong there, making sure that the actors knew that that animal does not belong there. And then he said Is that a fake baby? And they said No. And they come and show him the baby who was very much alive and Rylan's probably like eight at this point. And he goes, Huh? These people are a bunch of liars. So I think we should go home. And I was like, Rylan, what is happening? He goes, Jesus isn't even born yet. It is not December 24th. These people are lying. And he was out. He was out. We were done. I was so mortified. Except I think that actors thought it was kind of funny. But come to find out he thought that Jesus is born every year in the flesh and lives amongst us. So that was not Jesus, because it wasn't time. [00:20:45][126.8]

[00:20:45] Kristen: Clearly not the right day. [00:20:46][1.4]

[00:20:47] Gwen: So anyway, that was our last live Nativity. Hmm. [00:20:51][4.1]

[00:20:53] Kristen: It's a great one. [00:20:53][0.4]

[00:20:54] Gwen: Mm hmm. But then some things that really do work well are cutting down Christmas trees. So we have done that every year. He thinks it's fun to go pick out the tree and he gets to, you know, in Colorado it was much more fun. We'd make a day of it. We'd have hot chocolate in the van and we'd go with friends and he'd just lollygag around and he thought that was great. So that did work. And then decorating the tree works as long as I'm okay with having 30 ornaments on one solitary branch. That works. Do you guys do the tree situation? [00:21:32][38.1]

[00:21:33] Kristen: We used to cut down our own tree, but then we just have a fake tree. Nobody helps me put it up. Jamison sometimes will help me. He's the only one. So I actually take that opportunity to put on some music, get a holiday cocktail, and just, like, take my time and have fun. And it's something that I can really enjoy. And that's one of the things that I wanted to bring up is that I think there are a lot of triggers that abound this time of year with family, whether they're visiting and they're not used to your child or you have people staying with you or going to your family's house. I think your family's reactions or your friends reactions to the accommodations that you're having to do for your kids can be a trigger for you. So engaging in those traditions that make you feel really good and understanding that, like, it might not be important to your kid. And that's hard and sad, but then you have to move on. And if it's important to you and make sure that you engage in that so that you can really feel like you've had the holiday that you want because you're going to have to compromise in so many other areas. So the tree is one of mine where I feel like I own it and I don't have to share it. And it can go just the way I want. It can take as long as I want. [00:22:50][76.8]

[00:22:51] Gwen: That's great. I think the older my kids have gotten, the more I celebrate time alone. And that was something I really struggled with when they were younger. Like, I wouldn't do those things by myself because I just felt guilty or I felt like, this isn't the full experience. I'm not going to do it then. But I do a lot of things on my own. As you said before, I pick pumpkins on my own, and there's nothing I love more than that, right? I go to restaurants on my own. I went to our Botanic Gardens this weekend on my own and just read on a bench and never would have done those things when they were little. But please do, because there's no reason that you have to rob yourself of things that you really enjoy or that you think you should be doing as a family because that's just shutting yourself and then you're shutting it all away. So do these things. So find the things that work for your kids and that might shift every year. They might be able to do something the next year that they aren't able to do this year. Right. If going to church is important. Maybe get a babysitter. Maybe ask a relative to stay home with your child because he doesn't deserve to sit in the narthex on Christmas Eve. [00:24:04][73.7]

[00:24:05] Kristen: Not when he knows the story already. [00:24:06][1.3]

[00:24:07] Gwen: No, certainly not then. But you should be able to sit in church and enjoy your time. [00:24:12][5.1]

[00:24:12] Kristen: Joy, every minute of it, instead of being anxious about what's going to happen. Yeah, I think there are so many social demands for our kids this time of year that I think, you know, having to participate in large family dinners, religious ceremonies, winter outside activities. And we're asking them to do a lot that feels like it's what we should be doing, like you said. But the demand, I don't know that I always recognized just how significant of a load those demands were on my kids. And now that I am older and they're older and they can advocate for themselves, if one of them says, I just don't think I can do Christmas dinner at Grandma's this year. Okay. I totally get that. You don't have to do that. You can advocate for yourself. Let's set you up. Will bring you home some great food. What are you going to watch while we're gone? Right. And if that child feels like they have the I mean, if they're able to communicate that some of our kids can't communicate that, but if they are able to, if you can find a way to honor it, it's a great way to turn your holiday into something that everybody's feeling like their needs are getting met. [00:25:21][68.8]

[00:25:22] Gwen: Mm hmm. And I try to reflect on the previous year and things that would be did that didn't work as reminders for myself. So when we moved to Michigan, we went to my cousin's house for Christmas. It was a huge family get together. I love it. He sat in a room in the front by himself with headphones and watched his Nintendo switch and obsessed over food. I didn't enjoy one second of it. Yeah. So the next year, remembering that I just went with Reagan. Tim didn't care. He stayed home with Rylan. They watched some Marvel movie and Reagan and I went. She loves the time with her cousins and we had a great time. So try to reflect on what worked really well and what was a nightmare and don't do the nightmares again. [00:26:09][47.5]

[00:26:10] Kristen: And I think part of that is processing your grief in that this doesn't look the way I envisioned it. And you can try and make it look the way you envisioned it and it'll feel real bad. Or you can work on reframing this as these are the beautiful traditions that our family's creating, where Tim and Rylan get to watch a Marvel movie that they love and Reagan and you get to go socialize in ways that you love. So work to build. And I just say pull out all your self-care strategies, folks, and dust them off. Simplify, reframe. Lower your expectations. It's going to be okay. [00:26:46][35.9]

[00:26:47] Gwen: Yeah. I really want to go see the Polar Express. Our symphony does it where they play along with that and there's a choir and it's so lovely and beautiful. He hates it. He absolutely hates it. My whole family went last year. It was lovely. He doesn't want go. Of course he doesn't. Yeah. Yeah. So we're just not going to make him. Because if you were making me go to something that I hated, I'd be real pissed. [00:27:12][24.4]

[00:27:12] Kristen: Right. And the older our kids get, I think honoring those moments of self-determination and self advocacy want to make sure that they. As they're growing in their teenage years and in their young adult years, that they know that they have a voice, they can speak for themselves and that they are there's power in their voice, that it isn't something that's going to get overridden by society or their parents or a provider or a teacher. Right. So, so many of our kids are taught to be compliant, and that seems to be the goal. I really think our kids need to know how to use their voice in appropriate ways. So when they do, I try my best to honor that when I can get out of my own way. [00:27:53][41.2]

[00:27:55] Gwen: Yeah, because if we don't honor it, they're going to use their voice in the most inappropriate ways in the settings that they don't want to be in. [00:28:02][7.9]

[00:28:03] Kristen: That's right. [00:28:03][0.2]

[00:28:04] Gwen: Another big one for us is formal dinners. We have made him sit at formal dinners his whole life, and I'm so mad at myself for making him do it. And I'm so mad at myself for making hosts think that that's appropriate for him or for any young child, for that matter. But it has caused so much stress. So if you have formal family dinners that you're dreading already, stop it. Set up an expectation. Listen, this is what works for us. I never said that in those situations. And I'm going to start because I've learned through so many awkward times that it doesn't work. [00:28:45][41.8]

[00:28:46] Kristen: Yeah, I let my kids stay at the table for as long as it takes them to eat their food and then they're out, which is usually seven minutes. And you know, if family members is like, Where did Graham go? I haven't seen him. I'm like, oh, he's done. He's in the basement working on some stuff. Or, you know, I just make it very matter of fact. I mean, our family knows anyway, the family that we have over. But it's just easier for everybody if you normalize it. [00:29:15][29.0]

[00:29:16] Gwen: Yeah, use it as a teaching tool rather than confirmation that you're a terrible parent. And the child doesn't know how to act. [00:29:23][7.3]

[00:29:24] Kristen: Let us know how your holidays went. Friends, we would love to hear if you had some successes with some of these ideas and we'll circle back and tell you some of ours. Yeah. And now I think we'll say goodbye. Happy holidays. And let you guys know that we will be taking a break for the month of December. So this will be our last episode of the year and we'll circle back. Fresh in the new year. [00:29:53][28.4]

[00:29:53] Gwen: And why are we taking the month of December off? Because of everything we just said. [00:29:58][4.6]

[00:29:59] Kristen: This is our self-care. [00:29:59][0.5]

[00:30:00] Gwen: I will be researching live Advents. Kristen will be slowly and meticulously decorating her tree, which you remember I came out and decorated with you one year? Your tree? I didn't remember that. I love that. You have so many sweet ornaments of the kids when they were little, Right? [00:30:17][16.9]

[00:30:18] Kristen: I know. Yes. So many. [00:30:19][1.3]

[00:30:19] Gwen: So she's going to do that and we're all just going to find ways to keep our happy in the midst of the chaos. So we're going to hand it over to our kids, guys. Happy holidays and we'll see you in the new year. [00:30:33][13.6]

[00:30:33] Reagan: We know our moms are amazing, but they don't know everything. We think that you deserve to hear from the real experts. Their kids. [00:30:41][8.9]

[00:30:44] Reagan: We believe in nothing about us without us. So here it is. The last word. [00:30:50][6.1]

[00:30:52] Kristen: Hi, Graham. [00:30:53][0.3]

[00:30:53] Graham: Hi. [00:30:53][0.0]

[00:30:52] Kristen: How you doing today? [00:30:53][0.5]

[00:30:54] Graham: Good. [00:30:54][0.0]

[00:30:55] Kristen: Awesome. So Gwen and I talked today about the holidays. The winter holidays. Yeah. So we were thinking about asking you guys what your favorite memories are from Christmas because that's what we celebrate, right? [00:31:09][14.7]

[00:31:10] Graham: Yeah, well, obviously we celebrate Christmas, but one of the memories I have, like from Christmas was definitely opening to see what I got that year. [00:31:18][8.6]

[00:31:19] Kristen: So opening presents. [00:31:20][0.6]

[00:31:21] Graham: Yeah, because it's always interesting to see what you're going to get if you don't know because you just see the outside, you just see the shape. It makes you very curious and wait, what could it be? [00:31:29][8.7]

[00:31:30] Kristen: It makes you curious, but what else does it make you? [00:31:32][2.4]

[00:31:36] Graham: Stressed because it's hard for me to be this way because I'm a very anxious person. [00:31:39][3.2]

[00:31:39] Kristen: Okay, so that waiting is just a little brutal, right? [00:31:41][1.5]

[00:31:42] Graham: Yeah. [00:31:42][0.0]

[00:31:43] Kristen: Yeah. So what have we done before? [00:31:44][1.5]

[00:31:46] Graham: I remember when I was younger, we would do this little one gift early thing and I'm not doing that anymore. [00:31:51][4.9]

[00:31:51] Kristen: We can. [00:31:52][1.4]

[00:31:53] Graham: No, I think I'm better now. [00:31:54][1.1]

[00:31:56] Kristen: Yeah. What else do you like about the holiday? [00:31:57][1.0]

[00:31:58] Graham: I also love having Thanksgiving dinner with the family. [00:32:00][2.3]

[00:32:01] Kristen: Yeah? Love having family over, right? [00:32:03][2.3]

[00:32:04] Graham: Yeah, because it just feels happy to see everyone reunited, even if it's just for dinner. [00:32:07][3.8]

[00:32:09] Kristen: Yeah, and we usually do a lot with family on Christmas Day. [00:32:14][4.4]

[00:32:14] Graham: Oh, yeah, we. Well, obviously, besides unboxing, we also have Christmas dinner, which is always fun. Going over to other people's place. [00:32:22][8.0]

[00:32:24] Kristen: So you're pretty good with people, although you tend to hang out with everybody for like ten minutes and then you're kind of out of here. Like I'm going to go do my own thing. [00:32:31][6.8]

[00:32:31] Graham: Well, that's just because I have a bit of a just because it gets a little crowded and I just get a little claustrophobic. [00:32:37][5.5]

[00:32:37] Kristen: Yeah, So you're really good at knowing when you need to dip out, right? [00:32:42][4.3]

[00:32:42] Graham: Yeah. [00:32:42][0.0]

[00:32:43] Kristen: So we kind of let you regulate yourself. [00:32:44][1.3]

[00:32:45] Graham: Exactly. [00:32:45][0.0]

[00:32:47] Kristen: Awesome. Thanks, Graham. [00:32:47][0.8]

[00:32:48] Graham: No problem and enjoy the rest of your podcast. [00:32:50][1.6]

[00:32:50] Kristen: Thanks. [00:32:50][0.0]

[00:32:53] Gwen: All right. The best Reagan vocalizing on planet Earth is here with us to talk about the holiday season. Do you want to sing a song for us? [00:33:02][9.2]

[00:33:04] Reagan: No. [00:33:04][0.0]

[00:33:04] Gwen: Oh. Please? [00:33:05][1.1]

[00:33:06] Reagan: No. [00:33:06][0.0]

[00:33:08] Gwen: That's all this girl does is listen to music around the house. So don't be surprised if she breaks out into song. Can you please share with us Reagan some of your favorite holiday memories or even just one? [00:33:20][12.1]

[00:33:20] Reagan: One of my favorite holiday memories was probably last year. Well, my grandparents had Covid which was pretty bad. But we all got to hang out and open presents and make stuff together. [00:33:37][16.8]

[00:33:37] Gwen: Yeah. So you just enjoyed time with your family and just like little old us. Oh, that's so sweet. And you got really good presents last year. [00:33:47][10.7]

[00:33:48] Reagan: Yeah, I got basically everything I wanted. [00:33:50][1.8]

[00:33:50] Gwen: Yeah. Is there anything that you really look forward to every year about the holiday season? [00:33:54][4.3]

[00:33:56] Reagan: Gifts and family. [00:33:57][1.2]

[00:33:58] Gwen: Oh, that's sweet. [00:33:59][0.8]

[00:34:00] Reagan: It's like cozy, too. [00:34:00][0.6]

[00:34:03] Gwen: Oh, hi, Dudley. What do you like about the holidays? This is going to be Dudley's first snow and first Christmas. All right. I think we're. I think that's it. Bye, y'all. [00:34:14][10.5]

[00:34:16] Gwen: I'm here with the one and only Rylan. [00:34:17][1.5]

[00:34:18] Rylan: Hi. [00:34:18][0.0]

[00:34:18] Gwen: We are talking about the holidays. Our family celebrates Christmas. Can you share maybe a couple of your favorite memories of the Christmas season through the years. [00:34:32][13.8]

[00:34:33] Rylan: Like my Lego set in like playing Nintendo Switch? Because I worked nonstop on the lego set and I still have fun with my switch this day. [00:34:43][10.4]

[00:34:44] Gwen: Those are very good points. And that's funny that you say those because Kristen and I had a very specific conversation on the podcast about Lego sets at Christmas because her kids get big Lego sets every year too. Yeah, the Bugatti Chiron on maybe we can put a picture of it in our show notes. What was another big Lego set you've gotten? [00:35:05][20.3]

[00:35:06] Rylan: I remember a Porsche 911. [00:35:07][1.2]

[00:35:09] Gwen: Yeah. The car theme is good, right? Because it gets Dad interested with you. [00:35:12][2.7]

[00:35:12] Rylan: Yeah, he also wants maybe like some boats and planes and stuff and motorcycles. [00:35:21][8.8]

[00:35:22] Gwen: Yeah. And these are not just like standard Lego kits, right? [00:35:25][3.2]

[00:35:26] Rylan: They're technic. [00:35:26][0.2]

[00:35:27] Gwen: Technic. [00:35:27][0.0]

[00:35:28] Rylan: Has like a lot of different aspects, like gears and axles. [00:35:33][5.0]

[00:35:35] Gwen: Yeah. So they move, have engines. [00:35:37][2.3]

[00:35:38] Rylan: Have different. Some have pistons. They just have like a lot of aspects that makes like more realistic and more like challenging to build which I like. [00:35:49][11.0]

[00:35:51] Gwen: Yeah. And then what kind of car do you think you want when you get older? Unfortunately, the Bugatti Chiron set the example for something that is most likely unattainable. Right? And then your Switch, which I mean, I can't even imagine how you would get through life without your Switch. Can you [00:36:09][18.2]

[00:36:10] Rylan: Yeah. Yeah. Because. I have a lot of games. A. All the Pokemon games are on Switch and B. Doesn't require Wi-Fi so I can play anywhere. [00:36:21][11.0]

[00:36:22] Gwen: Gift idea for all you younger parents out there. [00:36:24][2.7]

[00:36:25] Rylan: Yeah, it is slightly expensive, but the Light is the least expensive. And you can probably get a used one for even cheaper. [00:36:31][6.2]

[00:36:32] Gwen: I mean, tips of the trade right here. From the working man himself. All right. Can you tell us a couple things that you like the most about the holiday season? [00:36:41][9.2]

[00:36:42] Rylan: Food, sweets, and presents. [00:36:42][0.1]

[00:36:48] Gwen: What's your favorite holiday food, Rylan? [00:36:50][1.7]

[00:36:51] Rylan: Have we really had, like, any feasts for years about Christmas? [00:36:57][6.0]

[00:36:57] Gwen: Every holiday you have a feast. I don't know what you're talking about. [00:37:02][4.2]

[00:37:02] Rylan: Okay. I just don't remember. [00:37:03][1.2]

[00:37:04] Gwen: Oh, okay. This is your last question. Can you just tell our listeners about what you made last night? Speaking of sweets. [00:37:11][6.7]

[00:37:12] Rylan: For culinary class we're making our own candy. And I made candy geodes, which it's interesting. [00:37:22][9.6]

[00:37:23] Gwen: It's a self-made recipe, right? Yeah. And how did you make them? [00:37:26][3.6]

[00:37:27] Rylan: I combined like one cup of condensed milk with cup and a half of coconut, and I mixed it together. Put some flavoring and color. [00:37:37][9.7]

[00:37:38] Gwen: Hold on, you can't just say flavoring and color. Tell them what you did for the color and the flavoring. [00:37:43][4.7]

[00:37:44] Rylan: So I put like a lemon flavoring with like, a yellow one. [00:37:47][3.8]

[00:37:50] Gwen: Lemon extract, right? [00:37:50][0.0]

[00:37:51] Rylan: Extract, yeah. Like an orange color with an orange extract and then a red color with a maple extract because maple sirup kind of red. [00:38:00][9.5]

[00:38:01] Gwen: Yeah. And then what geodes did you name them? [00:38:04][3.0]

[00:38:05] Rylan: So for the red I, it's a ruby. For orange, maybe, like citrine. But you guys will have to. Do they have like common names? [00:38:16][10.6]

[00:38:16] Gwen: Yeah, I don't know. [00:38:17][0.7]

[00:38:17] Rylan: Like you guys can tell us if there's any other orange geodes. [00:38:20][2.8]

[00:38:21] Gwen: Orange geodes. [00:38:22][0.5]

[00:38:23] Rylan: And then for yellow, topaz. [00:38:25][2.2]

[00:38:26] Gwen: Oh, topaz. [00:38:26][0.6]

[00:38:26] Rylan: And then I rolled them into balls and I rolled them in sugar and then covered them with melted chocolate and then put powdered sugar to kind of make like the shell. Then I froze them. And then another sweet treat. [00:38:41][15.0]

[00:38:42] Gwen: They're delicious. [00:38:42][0.2]

[00:38:43] Rylan: Yeah. [00:38:43][0.0]

[00:38:44] Gwen: The chocolate. I mean, we had some mishaps with the chocolate, but melted chocolate. It takes a lot of precision to get melted chocolate correctly. Oh. Are you seeing a bird? [00:38:56][11.9]

[00:38:56] Rylan: Yep. He constantly. He constantly visits me while I am playing video games. [00:39:01][4.7]

[00:39:02] Gwen: That's so cute. All right, we got to move on. That was five minutes and forty seconds of holiday fun with Rylan. [00:39:07][5.8]

[00:39:08] Rylan: It's really cool. You can, like, post recipes or something. [00:39:11][2.5]

[00:39:11] Gwen: Yeah, we can post the recipe. [00:39:12][0.8]

[00:39:13] Rylan: We could? Yeah. You guys can find the recipe on my mom's website. [00:39:18][5.5]

[00:39:19] Gwen: For the geodes. [00:39:20][0.6]

[00:39:21] Rylan: Yeah, the geodes. [00:39:21][0.8]

[00:39:22] Gwen: Holiday geodes. All right. Thanks, Rylan. [00:39:24][2.3]

[00:39:25] Rylan: Yep. [00:39:25][0.0]

[00:39:27] Gwen: Thanks for joining us for this episode. We appreciate you so very much. We'd sure love it if you'd subscribe to our show in your favorite podcast app and rate us. Preferably with five stars. [00:39:38][11.5]

[00:39:39] Kristen: We love hearing from our listeners, so visit our website to reach out via email or through our voicemail box. You can sign up for our free newsletter or better yet, join our communal closet where you can grow in community with us and each other. [00:39:53][14.0]

[00:39:54] Gwen: Get on in there by visiting See you next time.

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