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Holidays with ADHD

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How it’s different & how to make it easier.

The holidays are here — Halloween just passed and now it’s pumpkin spice everything with Thanksgiving and Christmas around the corner. 

With ADHD, routine and schedule are very important. You know some things are going to happen no matter what:

  • work timing and events
  • kids at school with extra activities and with friends outside of school
  • the bedtime routine should stay set but there’s so much going on tha

With the holidays the problem is that this creates a disruption in routine. The way to combat it is to plan ahead. 

  1. Develop a STRONG sleep routine. This should include the same time for sleep and wake-up with no electronics for an hour prior to going to sleep. The bedroom should only be used for sleep and when it is bedtime, the room should be cool, dark, and quiet. It may be helpful to have a smartwatch to help track sleep patterns. 
  2. Designate a spot. This spot is for all important items (keys, wallet, etc..) in the house. Create a routine that ensures the designated spot becomes a part of your focus. 
  3. Keep a planner. This can be digital or in paper form. As with the above recommendation, create a routine that the planner helps you focus on how to schedule daily activities. 
  4. Create a list of priorities. These should be listed from most important to least important. Keep the list in the planner or designated spot–work the list from most important to least. If some tasks are too big, break them down into smaller steps. 
  5. Take breaks. Try to pace projects to the span of attention that is average. Take a break once that time has passed and regroup after 5 or so minutes. It can also be helpful to use a watch alarm to vibrate when you have to refocus. There is a timer app on Apple Watch or iPhone. 


Figure out what your triggers are. If you know kids will be home from school for 2 weeks in December, hire a babysitter to watch them while you work. Even if you have 2 hours of work to do, the fact the kids are busy and taken care of takes a huge burden off your shoulders.

With kids being home, there could be more home chores for them to do like more laundry, dishes, and helping keep things picked up. And you know there will be more grocery runs. Kids need snacks, so to help with this use Amazon Prime or another delivery service to order groceries in advance. Maybe ask the babysitter for an hour more to help fold laundry or put the dishes away. At work, we often delegate tasks, why not at home? 

I don’t like the saying “lower your standards”. It has a negative connotation. I wouldn’t say ‘lower your standards”, I would say “make your own”. Who’s to say you need a table full of food? Your kids will appreciate anything you do—it’s quality and not quantity that’s important. 

You’ll be amazed how much happier your whole family is when you reduce the pressure to be perfect. Focus on setting your own standards.  

TOP TIP – Limit time on social media.

Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, YouTube, and TikTok are designed to capture and keep your attention. Seeing too many “curated” views of life can create a sense of guilt and diminish your efforts. Instead, give yourself time away from the screen to be present for those around you. You’ll all be glad you did. 


If you know you’ll be traveling, see your provider and share your itinerary to determine if an adjustment to your medication is needed. Maybe a shorter-acting medication can be sufficient versus a long-acting. 

ADHD is not a lifelong struggle—it’s just at times like these you might need some extra help. 

What advice can we share? It’s about closing the tabs—the mental hyperactivity, and how you can help close those tabs so they don’t become a burden. 

  1. Open up your suitcase and pack as you go
  2. Use travel cubes. These help keep things organized
  3. Get all the medicines/travel-friendly items you may need at durationhealth

Travel hacks for kids: 

  1. Screen time. It’s ok for them to have screen time for that time period. Make sure you have kids safe headphones
  2. Get travel friendly coloring kits
  3. Sticker sets can keep them engaged 
  4. Pillbox with snacks that are color-coded for kids
  5. Let them pack their own suitcase or backpack—it’s the sense of belonging and responsibility. 
  6. Send some kid items to your final destination—-use amazon prime to send things like diapers, formulas, snacks, wipes so you don’t have to worry about wagging it all along with you. 

Other ideas for kids and the holidays

  • Put disposable cameras around the house and let your kids take pictures and then develop them. This becomes a fun activity for them. 
  • Playdough will always keep them busy. Be sure to set an old sheet or cloth down underneath so you aren’t stressing about everywhere the Playdough goes. 
  • Dollar General and The Dollar Store often have great items for kids, like stickers, activity books, crayons, coloring pencils, and to-go plastic containers. Check out a store near you. 
  • In the end, enjoy the moment and be present. 


Dr. Raafia muhammad

Dr. Raafia Muhammad

Dr. Raafia Muhammad is board certified in general preventive medicine and public health. She completed her internship in general surgery at Brookdale university hospital and medical center and general preventive medicine & public health residency at the TX department of state health services. In addition, she has a master of public health from Benedictine University.

Dr. Muhammad joined ADHDOnline in august 2020. She believes in empowering her patients and providing them with clinical knowledge about their ADHD. She focuses on individualized care and believes that ADHD can become a patient’s asset rather than a deficit when properly understood and treated.

Dr. Muhammad is licensed in multiple states. She lives in cypress, Texas, with her husband and two kids.

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