Last night we chose to attend our church’s Fall Festival. It is done in partnership with a local Christian camp, so it is hosted at the camp, in their gym. The gym is filled with fun carnival games (ring toss, giant Connect 4, Nerf guns, balloon darts, bouncy castle, line dancing, etc) as well as the opportunity to try out the indoor climbing wall and take a pony ride (outside). There were also many fun snacks such as cookies, cotton candy, popcorn and snow cones.
Many people from our church and community attended, and the room was constantly full with parents, kids and teens…and music (kind of loud) music. This sounds like an absolute disaster waiting to happen for our highly sensitive children…and it could have been without some foresight and preparation on our part:
First, we knew that our children would recognize the camp gym (they have been their several times before) and they would recognize many/most of the people that would be running the games and activities. This knowledge of the physical place and the people would lesson the overwhelming effects of the situation.
Second, we prepared by a quiet day at home with basic homeschooling and lots of time for free play. We also planned a quiet day at home for the day after (today)…very little school work unless they wanted to and time for calm free play. We also watched a short, calm movie before lunch…with snuggle time. (We usually do not have screen time until late afternoon.)
Third, we focused on healthy and nutrient dense real food during the day before we went (filled their tummies with good food) and limited the treats while we were there (one cookie and one piece of candy). We will continue to limit candy to one piece per day until it is gone. Thankfully, small toys were included as game prizes instead of just candy…so we didn’t end up with as much candy as I feared.
Finally, even though it was a late night; we got home around 9pm (and bedtime is usually between 8 and 8:30), we gave them time to look at their “prizes” and talk about all the fun they had. We also didn’t skip our nightly story time, just read one short Bible story. This helped them to process the evening and sleep well, even though bedtime ended up being almost 10 o’clock!
Some of the side effects of the evening that I have noticed today include:
- an increased need for free play time
- trouble focusing on school work and not wanting to focus on school work
- emotions “nearer” to the surface…crying at the “sad” parts of the movie
- needing more “snuggles”
- hungry…needing more nutrients?
- “normal” noise are too loud
- taking a nap/physical down time (for two) and outside physically active time (for one)
We are taking things more slowly today. We are doing less hands-on school (like language arts and math) and more passive school (like read alouds). I made it a priority to keep up on our schooling this week so that we could take some time off of school today. I know we can “catch” up tomorrow without any problem. Tonight will be a quiet evening at home and an early bedtime and we should (mostly) be recovered by tomorrow!