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PACE Yourself This Festive Season

PACE Yourself This Festive Season

Well, it is that time of year again! How quickly the seasons fly by. Before we know where we are, we are lost in the hustle and bustle once more.

Christmas really can be a magical time. Unfortunately, it can also be a time filled with unpleasant memories that trigger all sorts of feelings such as shame, guilt, sadness, and anxiety. For those who cannot be with their families, for whatever reason, the sense of loss from this can also be overwhelming. Whether you celebrate Christmas or have a different spiritual practice, it’s a time when emotions can run high.

Please take time to be sensitively curious and understand the feelings of those children and young people you care for at this time when things can be difficult as much as enjoyable. Be mindful and aware. Look out for any changes in their mood and behaviour. Better still, let them know it’s okay to share how they feel and acknowledge how difficult it can be for them. Please don’t forget how important the PACE model (Playfulness, Acceptance, Curiosity and Empathy) will be in creating calm and nurturing environments for our children and young people.

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You might also find the following suggestions useful:
  • Remember the importance of taking time out to enjoy some space and simply breathe. The young people you care for will need this too.
  • Be there to listen and hear, comfort, support and provide hugs in abundance. Be empathic and accepting of the feelings of others.
  • It can be a time to acknowledge the pain of loss. Encourage the lighting of a candle, the writing of a letter that isn’t sent, making a special decoration, or hanging a special ornament on the tree in remembrance of someone.
  • Bring calm by ensuring some playful low-key activities to help young people mentally adjust to the increased level of activity.
  • Remember the importance of routine and a degree of predictability in ensuring that children and young people avoid feeling overwhelmed and can remain feeling safe and grounded.
  • Create a visual calendar to help young people make sense of and better manage the increased levels of activity and the sense of uncertainty they can bring.
  • Do that little extra something for our children and young people to show that you are holding them in your hearts and minds. Remember the importance of human connection.

Christmas can also be a time of great hope and a chance to create new and positive memories with young people in care, as well as for helping them create Christmas rituals for themselves e.g., baking mince pies, decorating the tree, putting out stockings and leaving treats out, and even reading the ‘night before Christmas.’ I’ve no doubt that they will have their own ideas and cultural experiences that they may like to share with you. Why not encourage them to talk about the things they like to do.

Christmas is doing a little extra something for someone else.

Charles M. Schultz

The quote above is especially true for Christmas. I am proud that it often reflects what our amazing care teams do all year round. As hope-keepers for our children and young people, our care teams do that little extra every day and not just at Christmas, so I hope you all are on the receiving end of such kindness yourselves.

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Joy Wakenshaw, Head of Care