The holidays can be stressful and overwhelming to anyone but for those parenting a family with ADHD it’s even more challenging. I wanted to share some of the stumbling blocks we have faced in our family and my (sometimes failed attempts) to solve them.
Most of us struggle with the urge to dive into the dessert tray, binge watch your latest obsession on Netflix or splurge on a new dress for the holiday party. Some people are just better at controlling these urges than others. The brains of those affected with ADHD work differently and it takes them longer to develop and process impulses.
With all the triggers that lie around the holidays (holiday parties, gifts, sweets galore) a parent of an ADHDer is facing an uphill battle. In my experience the best way to get ready for the fight is to be prepared! Talk about the triggers before they happen. If you will be going to a family holiday party with an enormous dessert spread discuss the strategy on how to handle this before you walk through the door. For example, you might tell your child that they are allowed one or two choices from the dessert table and then that’s it because anything more might make them sick. Most importantly be prepared for when your plan fails (because you know often it will). One strategy that has worked in our house has been to ask the kid, “What do you think would be appropriate if you take more desserts than we agreed on?” And then follow thru!!
I have to say despite knowing the plan above is the best practice for battling holiday party dessert spreads, many times I have ignored my own advice. This always seems to result in a hyper child and once even lead to an incident that involved a sick sack on the car ride home. Yuck!
I hesitate to even write about this because I know those families touched by Autism are so much more effected by sensory issues…but this is my story so here it goes. The holidays are a time when many things are done to excess. Watching the sparkly Christmas lights, the constant buzz of holiday music and the wonderful aromas of the holiday meals. My kids tend to seek out the sensory stimulation of the holidays. The problem is that too much can throw them into overdrive. Suddenly I have kids bouncing off the walls with excitement. They struggle to slow down and accomplish the tasks of everyday life that still exist in the month of December like homework or feeding the dog.
One thing I have found to help me balance the chaos is sticking to my holiday planner. I know…total geek but I love my holiday planner. It helps me choose what to say no to and fill our days with the events and traditions that mean the most to our family. Sadly, this year my planner is very pathetic looking because due to an amazing getaway earlier this month I didn’t take the time to prep that I normally do. Pretty sad huh? Labels taped on and it’s overstuffed since I didn’t take the time to clean out last year’s stuff. Oh well…we are in the thick of the holidays right now so I have to make do with what I have and take the time to be in the moment and create lasting memories for my kiddos.