Most people find the holiday season stressful. Happy, but stressful. Adults and children with ADHD are overwhelmed by this time of year. The overstimulation, lack of routine and bombardment on the senses is palpably mind-blowing.
Be totally off any regular schedule
Abandon any semblance of routine
Eat strange, unfamiliar and unhealthy foods
Consume way too much sugar
Disrupt sleep patterns
Go to bed too late
Sleep too late
Arise too early
Spend time in stores with loud music
Blink at bright lights that twinkle and flash
Be captivated by elaborate displays of foliage and sparkles
Be bombarded with bakery smells and perfume fragrances
Navigate through aisles crowded with people and merchandise
Resist TV and radio commercials enticing us to buy things that we don’t need
Are we having fun yet?
Visit with family members who push our buttons
Go places where everyone is expected to be joyful
Take cranky people to new places
Attend fancy events
Spend more time in the car
Attend holiday concerts and perfomances
Pose for pictures
Take the pictures
Strew wrapping paper ribbons tissue gift bags and boxes everywhere
Wear clothes that smell funny from being in storage since last winter
Wear new clothes before they are laundered and before the scratchy collar tags are removed
Everywhere you turn, there is so much list-making advice for how to survive this season. And the first thing on each list is to make a list! This really cracks me up, the concept of gathering more clutter…. organization paraphernalia, and books, articles, videos on how to get through the demands of December. Nevertheless, ADHD families who are thirsty for this kind of knowledge all year will probably find a few really good tips that they can add to their repertoire of life management skills.
Here’s a good one from local organizer Charlotte Steil of Simply Put Organizing. I particularly like item number five, because it comes at the right time for my late-in the-season blog and provides some good tips to get you ready to plan for next year! If you couldn’t get it all together perfectly for this year, let it go! Look to the future, it’s not too early to put in place a plan for next year.
Start organizing the moment you pack things away.
Consider what frustrated you when you were searching for the boxes this year. Did you wish that you had a map to tell you where to find everything? Now’s the time to start drawing that map. Label the contents of every box, remembering to pack together things that are traditionally used together.
It will be easier next year to pick up the box marked “Holiday Jello-Molds–Aunt Mattie’s latke plate–Grandmom’s tiered fruit-cake stand–Festive Napkin Holder/handmade in preschool “ than to go hunting for each particular Jello-Mold or serving dish randomly assigned to various boxes, but which will be used together for the Cousin’s Party held annually on a traditional night of the holiday.
At the top your list to do for next year should be a reminder to be kind to yourself and your family and remind yourselves that you are not just a cluster of character flaws and impulsivity coupled with a tendency to being distracted and procrastinate. Pay attention to your family’s stressors, which will be different from your friends’ and siblings’ families. Check out Lauren Mackler’s post for some well-timed advice about cherishing family relationships; it’s good advice not just for during the holiday season but all year-round. Adults should set the example, model the behavior and the attitude so that ADHD children can learn by tangible experiences.
Next on your family’s list should be engaging in one or more of the following activities beginning now: breathe (including exhale), jog, practice yoga, shoot hoops, hula-hoop, jump rope; begin to release and embrace those fabulous brain chemicals that give us that mental zing when we need it, the quieting when we require respite, and the reward centers to enjoy our accomplishments.
You can’t just expect yourself and your children to take on the battle of the season, without some training. You need to develop the skills and the ability to access those skills when necessary.
This is YOUR Marathon
Start Training Now
Your first task is to give yourself a break and stop wasting brain cells on something that you can’t change and instead apply those same cells to creating muscle memory ….remember the brain is a muscle. Do the things that will help your neuron circuits flow in the most efficient and beneficial patterns.
Confession: At first I worried that I was late with this blog and felt pressure to write something pithy , because I was planning on writing in advance about how to get it together for this season. But I realized half way through that the timing is right to begin getting ready for next year. I think this works and am quite amused how I turned being late into something positive…clearly not the right lesson to be learned here, LOL.
Wishing RAK’s readers a restorative winter break, and fabulous beginning to your head-start on next year’s holiday season.