top of page

Having a “Heads Up!” Holiday

Updated: Mar 23, 2023

Those of us (myself included) with ADHD have two modes of time: now and not now. Future thinking, planning, and working memory are not our strengths. Then, being blindsided by the things we filed away to be done later (and then forgot about) is overwhelming. How can we make this a “Heads Up!” holiday so that we can avoid a Christmas concussion?

Embracing Different and Working Backwards

I know that many things about this holiday are unfamiliar. However, it's important that we pace ourselves by being intentional to ensure we are not stressed. Let’s make a holiday success plan. We can create a plan by working backward with 4 steps. One, visualize what you want this year. Two, make a list. Three, assign everything a time. And four, fuel up.


Visualizing starts with a pencil, a piece of paper, and answers to questions like this.

What would I like to walk away with this season? When I reflect on this holiday season a year from now, what kind of memory will make me smile?

Now, stop and write down what popped into your head. This is not a commitment, just a start. We are brainstorming here. This challenging year does not necessarily mean a terrible wrap up at the holidays. Even with COVID-19, there is a way to create the memory you want. The way to do it is in your brain! It just needs a little time and attention.

Here is an exercise that might help.

Imagine yourself in time after the holidays, talking to a friend, and complete this sentence…

“It was a tumultuous year, but for the first time, rather than the same holiday traditions of previous years, we (had) __________________ and it was wonderful.”

Make (draw) a list

Now, grab a pad of sticky post-it notes, and on one sheet, draw a picture or write a description of what you wrote in the blank above. Tear it off and stick it on the bottom right side of a piece of paper. Next, ask yourself what is the last task that needs to be completed before that picture can happen. For example, my family is going to attempt an outdoor Holiday picnic. I have envisioned my patio strewn with Christmas lights and my family social distancing in lawn chairs eating from a distant buffet table with pot luck smorgasbord. The last thing that needs to be done before this event starts is to have the patio set up with a large, decorated table. So, I take another post-it and draw a picture of the table. Next, ask yourself what would need to be done just prior to that step. For me, this may mean, cleaning the patio. So, for this step, I may write on my sheet, “clear and clean.” I’ll keep moving backward this way until I have accounted for everything that I envisioned for the event, lights, the table, firewood for the firepit, chairs for my family, etc… I will also have put them in order, sticking them on the page going from the right lower corner and moving backward.

This is a proven way to make sure that you will have everything you need, without a season’s greetings sucker punch. (I learned this trick from Marydee Skylar in Seeling My Time.)

Assign A Time

This step assigns the task from each post-it to a time and/or day. You’ll just need a calendar and a pencil. With this step, you set your deadlines and avoid conflicts in your schedule. A goal without a plan is just a wish. And, unless your plan is written down, you do not really have a plan at all. Now you are ready with one exception: fuel to follow through.

Fuel Up

Getting started with the energy to see our plan through to completion isn’t easy. We will need a lot of fuel in our tank. What is this fuel for our tribe? Interest. ADHD is not a deficit of attention, it is a deficit of interest. So how can we make sure our project remains interesting to the end? Try some of these Holiday Hacks:

H- Have a success journal for images and ideas and to monitor your progress

A- Add holiday music.

C- Connect with another family member to body double with you and to keep you accountable.

K- Keep lists. Checking off something as done will give you a burst of energy to keep going.

S- Sleep. Making sure to get the sleep you need will pay off.

Holiday 2020 will not look like previous holidays. Many of us have experienced loss and will not feel like celebrating after such a difficult year. I understand. But it may help to remember that the holidays were not created for celebrating sadness. They are a celebration of God’s giving us a lifeline in the midst of it. The holidays are a time to remember Him, to be thankful for what/who remains and look forward to life with Him eternally.

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

-John 16:33

Let’s enter this holiday with our heads up.

26 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page