Top Ten Tips for De-stressing Your Thanksgiving

Merely Me Health Guide

    I don't know about you but I live in some dread over the upcoming holidays. It seems that as soon as the Halloween pumpkins have been chucked from the porch it is time to think of Christmas. Poor Thanksgiving doesn't get much respect at all. It is like a mere appetizer for the main seasonal event. But it is also a trigger for stress.

    As I write this it is early November and the toy stores already have their toy catalogs in the newspaper. My child has seen this and thinks it is Christmas. He already has stockings up near the fireplace as the dollar store was selling them before Halloween. Every commercial seems to have a holiday jingle. As far as advertisers are concerned it is Christmas now. And they have convinced my son of this. By the time it is Thanksgiving he will be so hyped up that I won't have the heart to tell him that there are four more weeks until the big day.

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    Thanksgiving is a torturously long day for a child with hyperactivity. They wait hours for dinner and then the feast is deliberately eaten with slow reverence. Small talk and sitting with family to relax is not usually a kid with ADHD's idea of fun. Not to mention that any stress we parents feel is acutely picked up by our children's emotional radar. I find that as the holidays near the stress becomes contagious spreading through the whole household like a common cold.


    Can we have a more peaceful and serene Thanksgiving? Is it possible? The optimist in me says yes!


    Here are my top ten tips for taking the stress out of this holiday:


    1. Focus on the meaning of the holiday instead of the rituals. The whole gist of this holiday is to connect with family and to count your blessings. It is not to cook the perfect turkey or to have the perfectly behaved child (although that would be nice sometimes). Take the time to laugh and have fun with your family this Thanksgiving. Be grateful for the happy moments.


    2. Get outside. There is nothing which will drive a hyperactive child or adult more stir crazy than sitting in the house all day. Take a walk, play some touch football, go bike riding if the weather permits, play in the snow if it is snowing outside, but do get outside even if you have to bundle up.


    3. Don't be afraid to change tradition. Who says you have to have turkey for Thanksgiving? You can make anything you want including reservations at the local Chinese restaurant. They did it on "A Christmas Story" and look how happy they were.


    4. Make merry with music. Play Rock Band or Guitar Hero with your kids. You will have a blast guaranteed. For about a hundred bucks you can buy a karaoke machine so you and your family can sing along to your favorite show tunes or Christmas songs. Play the piano, keyboard, or guitar and gather your family for a sing-a-long. Who cares if you can't sing, just have fun with it.


    5. Have your child create their Christmas list. Get out all the newspaper fliers, toy and gift catalogs and have you child clip out the items he or she is dreaming about getting for Christmas. They can then glue the pictures onto paper creating a visual list. Might make things easier for you to see what they want instead of having to guess what a Van Rook with Battle Sword is.

  • 6. If you are travelling to someone else's house for the holidays pack an activity bag for your child. Bring things like small toys, crayons, markers, and paper. You can pack an electronic game or even a small DVD player. The goal is to give them some independent activities to keep them busy during the less lively parts of your visit.

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    7. Allow your child to be part of the meal preparation. Children are much more likely to eat something that they had a hand in creating. So let them put the marshmallows on the sweet potatoes or twist the crescent rolls into shape for baking. Let your child help as they are able.


    8. Play some games! I find that my child likes more physically active games. There is twister and limbo as well as indoor bowling with plastic pins and ball. There are foam dart board games as well as magnetic fishing. Some other hands on games especially for younger kids are Hungy Hungry Hippos, Ants in the Pants, Don't Break the Ice and Mouse Trap.


    9. Go to the dollar store ahead of time and buy small toys and trinkets to give to your child at certain intervals for good behavior. Some good choices might be a slinky, one of those parachute guys they can launch from an upstairs landing, bubbles, and coloring books.


    10. Have a designated place in the house or wherever you will be for your child to go to if they become overly stimulated. They will need a calm safe place to wind down from all the excitement. My son responds well to also giving him a stress ball to squeeze when he gets worked up. Whatever strategies work to calm your child, keep them in mind especially for the holidays.


    I hope that these tips can save some of your sanity on Thanksgiving. The holidays don't need to be stressful. It isn't worth it. Remember the focus is to have fun with your family and to enjoy these special times. They go by so very fast.


    I wish you all a very Happy Thanksgiving. Much peace, love, and joy to you all!



Published On: November 23, 2009