Keep the Happy in the Holidays
By Julie Nachman B.S. ED
When it comes to the holidays, it helps to have realistic expectations for how your family is going to spend this time together. How are you going to make it work if your household is affected by ADHD or other conditions associated with ADHD or Autism? The article offers some tips on how to keep the HAPPY in the holidays.
☻ Cool the flare-ups. Adults and children with conditions associated with ADHD often can see symptoms flare-up during stressful times. Reliable routines and consistent schedules can help adults and kids through the holiday when these transitional times create unpredictable behaviors. For more on how to help parents and children cope with ADHD symptom flare-ups go to http://www.additudemag.com/adhd/article/900.html
☻ Try some new things; one at a time and at a slow pace. Kaboose at http://kabbose.com has many craft ideas, food recipes, games and printables. This website has organized a search for crafts by age level starting with 3 and under, up to teen. Kaboose offers the opportunity to narrow your craft search by allowing you to search by time frame, craft supply, and theme. You will easily find a craft that fits your artistic desire. Stringing popcorn and cranberries and leaving them out for the birds after the holiday can be enjoyable as well. Remember to take is slow and do not become overwhelmed by adding too many projects to your schedule.
☻ Keep it happy not perfect. Martha Stewart amazes me. How does she find the time to dip roasted chestnuts into dark chocolate, wrap them in gold leaf tissue paper and ship them to friends and family? While every organized and perfected detail of Martha’s recipes and crafts look and sound like the perfect holiday treat, let’s be realistic. Our families are pulling at us in many directions these days. Emotions are swinging like a pendulum from one extreme to another and it can be difficult to keep smiling. Consider making one or two candies or treats instead of four or five. Have you heard of cake balls? Delicious, easy, customizable, child-friendly and even a SUPER sensory activity for your kiddos! Several sites claim to have fantastic recipes for gluten-free cake balls as well. Have your cake and eat it too, Martha!
☻ Help for the hurts. Hurtful memories from holidays past may trigger responses that keep us from enjoying the moment. So if you find yourself feeling depressed or overly anxious, seek help from a professional.
☻ Apps to help keep you happy. Plan your schedule but allow “wiggle “room for yourself and your children. Try to avoid over-scheduling. Planning schedules, posting calendars, and marking tasks completed can help make everyone feel more in control. In today’s world of Smart phone devices, there are many apps that allow families to organize their busy lifestyles. ADDitude Magazine has published reviews of Smart phones, Apps, and products for the ADHD kids and adults. Find these reviews at http://www.additudemag.com/adhd/article/8898-4.html Reward system apps may be a fun way to reinforce positive behavior during a time when routines are disrupted. I have found I Earned That! on the iPhone and Reward Chart on the Android to look promising.
☻ Happy Trails! If you are planning to travel this holiday, provide a map for your child and talk about estimating time for travel. Involve your child in “picturing” the trip; where will they sleep, eat, what relatives will they visit? The more information you provide the better. Can your child journal? Use a tape recorder, notebook or picture notebook for your child to record memories. What fun that would be if they could interview relatives! Search for a helpful article on the 12 Helpful Holiday Travel Tips for people with autism at: http://www.autismservicesfdn.org/resources/happy-holiday-resources/
These tips were formed with input from ADDitude Magazine, Kaboose.com, and The Autism Services Foundation. Don’t stress, have fun, keep it light. Most of all have a wonderful and memorable holiday season!