Presents have all been bought and wrapped. You have planned the menu for your holiday dinner. The decorations are up. You are ready. For those with ADHD, this is probably a complete fantasy. Disorganization, poor planning and forgetfulness often get in the way of preparing for the holidays. But even though it is getting closer, you can still take control and be ready when the day rolls around. Use the following tips to help.
Let go of your expectations or what you believe your friends and neighbors have accomplished. It is easy to look at a neighbors house and be envious of the spectacular light display or the beautifully decorated tree showing through the front window. It is easy to think, "they have it all together, why can’t I"what is wrong with me?" No two families celebrate the holidays exactly alike. Each family has different traditions. How your friends or neighbors celebrate should not dictate how you celebrate yours. Instead of trying to live up to what you think others expect, work on creating your own traditions, ones that fit in with your lifestyle and values.
Make a master list of everything you still need to do. Include shopping, decorating, buying food, parties, children’s events. Once you have a master list, you can sort it by importance or by date. Each day, you will know exactly what you need to accomplish. Use your phone or computer to list tasks for each day to help you stay on track. If your do-to list is overwhelming, remember that you don’t have to do everything; you can say "no" to some invitations. Highlight those items that are essential, such as your child’s school concert, and eliminate those that aren’t necessary.
Focus on ease and convenience. If shopping and crowds are difficult for you, consider shopping online or going with gift cards for a favorite store or restaurant. If you prefer presents, try to limit the number of stores you need to visit by categorizing gifts. You might decide to go with household gifts for adults on your list or buying each person a special book. Consolidating your shopping to a few stores can help you feel calmer than traveling all over town running from store to store.
Make dinner a family affair. If you are hosting the holiday dinner, ask each person to bring something to contribute to the meal. This way you are only making the main entrÃ©e and maybe one or two side dishes. If you prefer, order a precooked meal from a local store or restaurant or go non-traditional and order Chinese food or a pizza. Holiday meals are meant to celebrate being together and you don’t need the traditional meal to celebrate your family.
Make sure to include self-care on your list of priorities. Eat right, get enough sleep and exercise each day. Take a few minutes each day as down time - sit quietly, listen to music or take a walk. Caring for yourself will help you stay focused and give you the energy to accomplish more.
Delegate tasks to family members. If you are feeling overwhelmed, you might be taking on too much yourself. Delegate some tasks to family members. Young children can help with setting the table or cleaning up. Older children can help with cooking or shopping. Don’t feel you need to tackle every holiday chore by yourself.
Stick to your budget. Overspending is stressful. You worry about whether you have enough money to finish shopping or pay your bills, if you used credit cards, you worry about the bills you will get after the holiday is over. Set a budget for how much you can spend for gifts and stick to it. While you might be tempted to go over the budget, you will feel better if you stay within your means.
Finally, enjoy yourself. Simplify your holiday plans so you can relax, enjoy the company of people you love and celebrate the season.
For information on managing the holidays with children with ADHD:
Eileen Bailey is a freelance health writer. She is the author of What Went Right: Reframe Your Thinking for a Happier Now, Idiot’s Guide to Adult ADHD, Idiot’s Guide to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Essential Guide to Overcoming Obsessive Love, and Essential Guide to Asperger’s Syndrome. She can be found on Twitter @eileenmbailey and on Facebook at eileenmbailey.