Planning your holidays should include recognizing how the symptoms of ADD in children can alter your best intentions.
During the extended days of family activities that occur in November and December, it’s easy to walk away from our schedules, and ramp up our expectations. Wow, there’s a recipe for disaster, even without the ADHD component.
Why are schedules still important? Well, someone once told me that ADHD doesn’t go away during the summer. So true. Why then should we expect it to magically disappear during the holidays when the stress of anticipation and overwhelm seem to peak? If anything, it’s even more important to keep our daily schedules in mind when we’re planning long distance holiday travel, extended family meals, gift giving, shopping, worship and all of the other trappings that we cherish.
Schedules give us a sense of control and security, especially for those with ADHD. We know what’s happening next. No surprises. No lengthy transitions. If the schedule includes medication, make sure that it’s available and given on time. Young and old alike, don’t forget the meds. Schedules can help us anticipate the oncoming of certain behaviors that can blow up Thanksgiving Dinner, or start an argument on Christmas Day. Having a plan (have the kids take a break during Thanksgiving Dinner to run a Turkey Trot around the outside of the house; everyone is a winner) in place to help “side-step” a disaster is proactive and will minimize the chaos.
Holiday expectations can be a real source of heartache, meltdowns and anger. It may be time to more closely match your holiday visions with what you can more realistically expect from your family. Sitting in a pew for an hour for a midnight candlelight service may sound like a nice tradition, but for little kids it may be too much. Waiting to serve a luscious holiday brunch after all of the gifts have been opened and the paper cleaned up may result in a bunch of crabby, hungry people. Put out some breakfast snacks like fruit to munch on.
And, if your expectations aren’t met according to your script? Figure out ahead of time what you can let go of if there’s a time crunch, or your sister-in-law wants to do something her way. Or better yet, let others know what you envision and get some feedback. Realistic? Overwhelming? “Are you kidding me?”
The holidays are supposed to be a time of sharing, loving and realizing our blessings. Isn’t that a better tradition than your kids remembering how mom yelled a lot and dad hid out in the basement until January 2?