The holidays are fast approaching and for parents of kids with ADHD, this can mean 2 weeks of overstimulated, overscheduled, exhausted kids who are about 2 milliseconds away from a total meltdown.
This year, why not make the holidays more enjoyable for your kids, and manageable for you? Here are 3 ways to decrease the chaos and bump up the harmony this holiday season:
Include protein alongside sweeter treats. Of course, kids are going to get a bit more sugar in their systems throughout the holidays. While this can lead to blood sugar spikes and crashes (translation: moodiness, energy highs and lows, sleep disturbances, and “hanger”), it doesn’t have to. Including a source of protein with sugary snacks and desserts can help prevent those highs and lows. Some easy protein sources to keep around are: Nuts and seeds (kids love cracking nuts during the holidays!), trail mixes, roasted chickpea snacks, jerky, cheese, a smoothie with protein powder, or energy balls.
Routine: ADHD kids lack internal regulation, so they thrive in a more structured environment. Holidays throw everyone’s routine into flux, resulting in dysregulated kids and stressed out parents. Do your best to keep as many elements of your routine constant during the holiday season, especially when it comes to meals and sleep. On days when no “special” meals are planned, try to eat in the same place at the same time each day. For waking and bedtimes, try not to let them stray too much from their normal routines. I know it’s hard to wake up early during the holidays, but making an effort to keep things as normal as possible will facilitate healthy sleep which is so crucial to ADHD brains.
- Perspective and Gratitude: It’s easy to get caught up in the “Pinterest Perfect” expectations that we are bombarded with every day. Take a moment each day to reflect and/or write about all the great things that happened that day - gratitude gives us a sense of calm and reduces anxiety levels. Controlling anxiety is key to managing ADHD and a huge factor in your kids’ anxiety is your anxiety. Try as we might, we can’t really hide anxiety from kids - they’re perceptive and when we get stressed, so do they. So keeping your anxiety levels manageable during this stressful season will help them stay calm, which improves executive functioning. Gratitude practices are a great way to bring your anxiety level down a notch and bring you into a new state of calm that kids will pick up on. If you’re not one to use a “pen and paper” journal, try the free apps Gratitude and Presently for gratitude journaling. If you need a bigger boost, Bloom offers great cognitive behavioural therapy exercises that can help reduce your anxiety. And, Positive Penguins is an app that offers problem solving and confidence building activities specifically for kids.
Adopting one or several of these simple tips might just be what keeps your family in harmony this holiday season. Here’s wishing you and yours a peaceful and relaxing festive season.
Shawna Hughes is a Holistic Nutritionist who offers ADHD Harmony: A Nutrition and Lifestyle Coaching Program for parents of kids with ADHD. She offers FREE masterclasses to help parents understand the relationship between diet and ADHD and implement changes without overwhelm.
The next Masterclass, “The 3 Nutrition Guidelines You Must Follow For Optimal ADHD Management” will take place January 7th at 12:00pm EST via Zoom. Sign up for her email list at www.shawnahughesnutrition.com