The holidays are such a magical time, but for parents, the holidays can be expensive, exhausting, and very stressful.
My friends who have children who have some additional special needs often have something else to consider- will my child get over-stimulated? Will their sensory system head into overload, which will cause a tantrum that we have trouble recovering from? What if he is scared of Santa? What if the lines are too long? What if we wait all that time and pay all that money and then he loses it just as we get up to the big guy?
I hear you, sister!
When planning sessions in my then brand-new studio last year, I had a light-bulb moment~ we should have Santa come to the studio! Ideas started racing through my head- we can have music, it can be relaxing, and I refuse to give clients photos that include their children crying, terrified and beside themselves. This one will be different. As I planned, I though about my daughter. She has been scared of the big guy since she was 8 months old and we plucked her in his lap at the mall. We had waited almost an hour for that grand moment and BOOM! Tears everywhere!!! My husband said, oh well let’s just get the picture and get out of here.
I was sweating. There was NO way I was going to have a photo of my gorgeous little baby in her gold tulle Christmas dress looking like she was about to get attacked by the man in red!
I thought fast—
“Shake the toy just to the right of Santa’s head. She will look up and it will distract her….and hopefully she won’t look like she’s crying”. It worked. PHEW.
Then her other grandparents wanted to take her to Santa. We repeated the process, she panicked when she sat with him, so we quickly had her look up at the toy, and boom, two 5×7 prints of Ava that year, looking up at Santa. The angels were singing and I needed a drink!
We skipped Santa for the next few years. I couldn’t put her or myself through it.
It wasn’t until we attended Tilly Mint’s Tea Room’s Breakfast with Santa that Ava was able to overcome her fear. She spent quality, relaxing time with Santa there in the room. There were no lines, no screaming children, and thankfully, no screeching mall photographers.
So last year, I thought, how can we be different? Our sessions have:
-Appointment times, so no waiting in line
-15- minute blocks, and clients are encouraged to come early so their children can hang out, do some coloring, and check out Santa
-Mrs. Claus!!! Mrs. Claus is lovable and sweet, and for some reason, completely calming to children. If they aren’t into Santa, they can hang with the Mrs. and if we can pop Santa in the photo while they are sitting with Mrs. Claus we absolutely do!!
-A calm environment- We play music but it’s low. We shake fun toys to get the children to look toward the camera, but again, we try to keep that to a minimal.
-Flexibility. If your child is crying ,we take time to get down on their level, distract them, and then try again. Maybe they need to take a break and hang out, that is okay, too!
All our sessions have one goal in mind- your child’s happiness. We are personalizing the sessions even more this year, so they will love it even more than last year.