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Parents of ADHD Children

I feel like I'm ruining xmas for my kids

I have two older kids with ADHD. First, they are bored a few minutes after waking up on the first day of winter break. That exacerbates it all. But then they want to do Every Holiday Tradition Known To Man nearly every day. My spouse hates xmas and merely tolerates it for my sake. I used to love it, but I just can’t accommodate both kids and spouse. Especially the kids. I don’t want to make hot chocolate every day. I don’t want to go look at xmas lights every night. We can only make one gingerbread house, and that is usually rushed through and over in minutes, anyway. We can only decorate a single tree or house, which is also rushed. I don’t want to make crafts every other hour. And no matter what, both my kids always have comments about how “that’s it? That’s all we’re doing? Can’t we do more?” Which makes me feel both frustrated and guilty.

I feel as if I am not doing enough to make the holidays special for them, and in turn, it seems like all the magic has been drained out of it for me. I enjoy “slow and simple” and they want “all and now.”  I’m sure a lot of this is guilt from always having to put on brakes through the year and always having to be the “no” monster. And I want the holidays to be special for them and different from the rest of the year, so I feel guilty when I can’t keep them in xmas awe the entire time. And guilt is making me want to do less and less every year, which makes the guilt worse when the kids are bummed that certain things aren’t decorated or created or whathaveyou.

I was wondering if other parents experience this and how they handle it?


I’m thinking you might have better luck if maybe next year, before all the madness begins, you all sit down and create a holiday calendar.  Everyone can choose however many experiences/activities/whatever…then together coordinate when those things will happen.  My son is BIG into schedules and knowing when things will happen…it seems to relax him.  And me too really.  The expectations are set and that’s that smile...hopefully.  If they continue to push on the schedule that was agreed upon, just remind them of the schedule and point them to the fridge, or wherever it’s posted.  Maybe you could have them take away something they added if they thought of something else they want to do more.  I don’t know if this will work but it might!

Posted by Llgeraghty on Dec 24, 2013 at 11:52pm

It sounds like you ARE doing holiday things with your kids. So why the guilt?  Is it really the holidays or are there other things feeding into it? And you don’t mention whether your kids are medicated, taking medicine holidays?  When my kids get squirrely I defer to an old trick my mom used, I tell them to go outside.  They hem and haw but I say, one hour outside, figure out something to do - and usually they spend more than an hour and hem and haw if I tell them to come inside.  If that is not possible you can and should impose some scheduled time - chores, or practice music or board games or sports, whatever your kids do they need some structured time and you can’t count on them implementing it.

And you say you have older kids - so maybe it is time to start handing over the reigns, maybe so you can step back to be supervisor instead of creator all the time.  This year I totally abdicated Christmas tree decorating to my kids.  We each did our part - daddy (who sounds a lot like your spouse, a bit bah humbug) sets up the tree and gets all the boxes out of the garage, I make the cocoa and help with the lights - but the actual decorating was all them!  My kids are 9 & 11 (my 9 year old is the ADHD child) and that occupied the entire evening.  Next year my 12 year old will be in charge of making cookies from beg. to end.

And yes, scheduling activities in advance is good and will give them something to look forward to.  Maybe you can look forward to them too.  And maybe you can try to flip you feelings a bit.  So you are feeling guilt - flip that on its head and what is the opposite of guilt, gratitude?  Sometimes you just need to take a moment to shift your perspective, and focus on what you like rather than the things that are troubling you.  It is not too late to enjoy yourself.

Posted by YellaRyan on Dec 25, 2013 at 12:08am

First, your husband needs to be more involved with the children so that you are not the only one doing all of it. No parent loves to do EVERYTHING their children are interested in. But as parents it is our responsibility to make their lives as happy as possible and give them lots of experience with us. Second don’t feel that you have to keep their schedule full all the time. Maybe you can print off free holiday coloring papers, create holiday games and periodically do group activities once a day with the children. I understand they have ADHD and need more supervision but we will never teach our children to control their own impulsivity and boredom if we are constantly trying to make up their days for them. My 9 year old has plenty of toys, games, and activities both inside the house and out and still claims bored one sometimes, I encourage him to do other activities and if he just sits and pouts then I let him. It’s his choice to find something to do or not. Hope you get a scheduled sorted out. Merry christmas

Posted by joeysmom on Dec 25, 2013 at 12:11am

I agree with everything suggested here and have used most of these at one time or another. In addition, this year we had our 10 year old write out all the cards so her father and I just had to sign them. She took great pride in writing little personal notes and practicing her cursive signature!

Posted by LyndaK on Dec 25, 2013 at 1:14pm

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