Whether you have ADHD or you have a child with ADHD, Christmas can be a fun yet difficult time! There are many expectations placed on us and often we feel the need to meet everyone else’s expectations of us. This is not always realistic and can set our Christmas up for meltdowns and disappointments! So lets see what we can do to make a ADHD Christmas success!
Things to think through…
Are you the kind of person that likes to do as many events as possible? Do you prefer a quieter Christmas with no events? This is NOT what others expect of you. Know what your own expectations are. They may need to be adjusted but this is a good place to start so that YOU have control over what is important to you.
Know the ADHD
Knowing your/your child’s ADHD allows you to adjust your expectations to fit what the ADHD can handle. Get curious about your child’s ADHD. Are transitions difficult? Do they get overwhelmed with people? Do they struggle handling emotions? You may love shopping but get overwhelmed with all the extras that stores have during this season. You may enjoy spending time with your family, but your child struggles with staying at their cousins for a long period of time. Take some time and write down what you know about their ADHD. What executive functions does your child struggle with?
Think Realistically and ADJUST
It is easy to have a plan to do all kinds of wonderful things, often in the name of making Christmas magical. If our expectations do not fit what the ADHD can handle then there will be conflict and meltdowns! We need to have a flexible attitude and be willing to adjust. Sometimes the adjustment needs to be last minute! If your child has had one or 2 late nights and are showing signs that they will not handle another, it is time to adjust.
I just want to say, you can have the BEST plan and still end up in conflict and meltdowns. By doing some planning there can be fewer difficulties AND A BETTER CHANCE AT A ADHD CHRISTMAS SUCCESS.
PRACTICAL TIPS for a ADHD CHRISTMAS SUCCESS
- PICK AND CHOOSE EVENTS. Take the things you thought through in the above section and see what is most important to you and your family. Plan around those events.
- PREPARE IN ADVANCE. There is often a balance with ADHD kids with not telling them of activities to early, yet giving them enough time if they struggle with transitioning. They often need to mentally prepare for the transition, but also prepare them for expectations. “We do not need to dress fancy but no sweat pants tonight.”
- CREATE QUIET TIME. There is so much extra stimulation this time of year that it is important to teach and model rest. Sit and read a book with them or listen to Christmas music by the tree. These things also create Christmas memories.
- MAINTAIN SOME ROUTINE. This may be difficult if you are away for the season but some similarities of routine can still be kept up. Reading a bed time story, getting dressed for the day, brushing teeth and hair can all be small routines that stay intact.
- THE “JUST IN CASE” PLAN. You are at a gathering and see your child is beginning to have trouble keeping their emotions in tact, have a plan to let your host know you need to leave early. If your child is aware of some of their triggers, have a plan to calm down in the bathroom when they feel those triggers coming on. By having a plan it will help your child feel supported and know that their needs are important.
I could go on! The most important thing is to think through your expectations, getting curious about the struggles in the ADHD, and being willing and able to adjust if needed.
WE DO BETTER WHEN WE KNOW BETTER
Most of these are things we learned the hard way as we were beginning to understand our sons ADHD. We really had no clue and often put him in situations that were not fair for his age and understanding. Just like you, we have had the meltdowns, explosions, and frustrations. Now I want you to know better so that you can do better.
I truly wish you a very Merry Christmas. If you would like more information or support send me an email.
From my family to yours,
Family ADHD Coach Laureen