presents overwhelmed


I have a love/hate relationship with holidays. Let me explain…

When I give presentations on ADHD for conferences and workshops, I almost always touch upon the topic of holidays and entertaining because I think it’s a huge problem for most families who have ADHD in the mix, especially when a mom and child both have ADHD.  To give you some perspective, let me share a bit about how I handle holidays in my house.

One thing I try to keep in mind as each major annual event draws near, whether it’s Thanksgiving, Christmas/Chanukah, etc., is to ask myself- or really, REMIND myself- of the reason I’m hosting a holiday gathering. Is it to honor a family tradition? Is it for spiritual connections?   Giving in to others’ expectations? Or is it simply because I have a house large enough to accommodate everyone in my extended family?

In my case, it’s because I want to be with family and to enjoy my time with them. Since my own flavor of ADHD makes it difficult to plan, shop, cook, decorate, remember details, stay calm in a house full of people, not get distracted, etc. etc…I have come up with many strategies to survive. Perhaps these will help you as well:

1. I graciously, if not deliriously, accept any invitation offered by someone else who is willing to take on a holiday dinner. Sometimes it’s hard to believe that there are people who love to do this, but it’s true. If someone offers to have it, don’t think twice- say yes.

2. If I do have the dinner at my home, I invite as few people as possible without ending up being on someone’s hate list. Suggest to those who are omitted that you get together informally (preferably at a restaurant) after the holidays when you can spend more one-on-one time with them.

3. Since I’m not exactly an ace in the kitchen, I order in almost all of the food. This typically costs me a car payment, but is well worth it. The food tastes good, but more importantly; it offers me the opportunity to actually enjoy my company, rather than obsessing and worrying over the food. I’m not as stressed out and therefore, less likely to be irritable or apt to lash out at my family.

4. For gifts, I order almost everything online, usually at Amazon which carries everything from apple butter to car accessories. They even carry groceries, now, so theoretically, I could start a whole new tradition and have an entire Amazon holiday. Need some gift ideas? Click HERE to see my Top 20 ADHD Gift List. 

5. Back to the gifts- I have my kids email me their choices so that I can keep it on file and not accidentally buy duplicates, wrong colors, sizes, etc.

6. I do a minimum of decorating. It’s simply not my forte’. When my kids were younger, they loved making projects to spiff up the house. If you have youngsters at home, ask them to put their creative juices to work.

7. Can’t get out of the cooking and don’t have the budget for carry out? Host a holiday potluck. If you hate delegating, ask someone else to keep track of what people are bringing so that there aren’t duplicates.

8. I don’t clean the kitchen until everyone is gone. Think about it- you have people falling all over you and distracting you with their chatter. There’s the deafening clanking of dishware as it hits the sink. The children are racing around while the adults are fighting about politics and religion. Who needs the extra commotion?

9. I make sure that the next two days are cleared out with no responsibilities because that’s how long it takes for me to recover from a holiday. If you’re an adult with ADHD, like I am, these kinds of festivities are exhausting. Allow yourself a few days to vegetate and recuperate.

The big picture:

Change your expectations so that the holiday works for YOU, not the other way around. Ask yourself: what do YOU want this day to be like? Visualize it and then come up with solutions so that you can enjoy it-  whether it’s ordering the food, asking everyone to bring something, hiring a sitter to help with your ADHD kids, etc.

What is your plan to make the holidays work for you? Please share in the comment section below.