So for the last 3 years, I’ve put a lot of effort into doing a sensory advent calendar with Tilly. Partly because she didn’t really understand the excitement and anticipation of a chocolate advent calendar – in fact, she was never really interested in chocolate – so it was my way of giving her something each day that she would enjoy, and perhaps a way to anticipate and enjoy (in a small way) the build up to Christmas other neurotypical children do.
I’m not going to pretend, it’s hard work planning, organising and delivering the calendar. I mean, 24 days of (mostly) messy activities that I have to source materials for, or make, then set up and encourage Tilly and her brother to participate in. Then there’s the general chaos and mess that follows. I quite like a tidy and non-chaotic house so it’s a struggle for me!
An example of what we used to do was a large tray filled with peppermint scented and red-coloured rice with tubs to pour the rice in and out of; a bath filled with a jelly-like substance that I ‘forced’ the kids to sit in and ‘enjoy’; a lightbox with Christmas themed sticky decorations; and tubs of home-made peppermint scented cloud dough to feel, mould and generally throw all over the floor. Phew, I feel exhausted just looking at that list, never mind everything else I had planned for the 24 days!
I found it pretty difficult to fulfil last year because Tilly was at school full-time and very tired when she came home – it was a struggle to fit it in at a time where she was alert enough to engage with me. We tried, but it did slip and certainly wasn’t on the same scale as the previous 2 years.
In November this year, I had every intention to do an amazing sensory advent calendar and blog about it. I’d set up exciting new activities, take cool Instagram photos and write a blog post each day.
We’re now at the end of 2nd December and what have I done? Nothing! I’ve thought about it, have felt guilty about it – but I’ve done hee-haw about it. I’ve seen numerous ‘elf on the shelf’ posts and to be completely honest, all I’ve thought is ‘how can they be bothered?’. My heart just isn’t in it this year!
Does that make me a bad mum? At first I thought that yes, I’m failing, I’ve done it before, I should do it again.
But you know what, Tilly isn’t bothered. She’s grown into a feisty little girl who is living life on her own agenda and is happy to try and communicate what she wants and needs (even if that does mean via loud moaning and whinging). Her brother is almost 5 and not so interested in the ‘sensory activities’ we used to do. He’d rather build hot wheels track and watch Top Gear! Oh, and open his chocolate advent calendar.
Which brings me to today’s events. I always buy Tilly a choccy advent calendar but she’s never been bothered about it. Until today! We opened the number 2 door and she devoured the chocolate and went looking for more. In exactly the same way her brother has. She’s not allowed it, she has to understand that it’s one a day – so with some persistence, who knows, by 24 December, she might understand the concept!
If I’m honest, at some point in every single day of Tilly’s life, I throw a bit of a sensory activity into her day. She loves it, needs it and enjoys it. I don’t document it, don’t take photos of it, or write about it so why should I give myself , or Tilly for that matter, the pressure of doing that during the already busy month that is December?
No, I’ve decided that from this point forward, the’ Scott family sensory advent calendar’ will be replaced with the ‘let’s enjoy the festive period spontaneously and without expectation’ approach.
I’m not going to pretend that I might bore you with some photos (Instagram even!) and blog posts but don’t be expecting them every day. If we fancy a day off, we’ll have one.
And hopefully, that choccy advent calendar will become Tilly’s countdown to Christmas.