It’s the season to be thankful, and yet so many people are stressed out. Why? It’s often because of the dreaded Thanksgiving Dinner!
Thanksgiving is a tradition practiced all over the world, in one form or another. It’s a time to gather together to be thankful for all of the blessings of life, food, and family. Of course, actually cooking the darned dinner can be an incredibly difficult task, especially for someone with ADD/ADHD. If you find yourself hosting Thanksgiving this year, there are a number of strategies that you can put into play to save yourself some massive headaches and stressful situations, while still ending up with a delicious meal on the table.
Cooking the Dinner
Many people have compared cooking a successful Thanksgiving dinner to planning a military mission. Everything is on a strict timetable and and one mistake could imperil the entire mission. No pressure, huh?
If you have ADD/ADHD and are planning on taking on Thanksgiving by yourself, there are a number of things you can do to help you keep on track. Make sure you have an exhaustive to-do list of everything you need to keep in mind. This should include the full grocery list, a list of finished dishes, the number of steps required to make them, and the times everything needs to go in and out. In this case, setting a multitude of alarms on your phone can be very useful to help keep everything on track.
Another helpful hint is to start on Thanksgiving dinner a day or two before. Pies are actually better the second day, so if you are planning on making one, do it then. Just throw it in the oven the next day for a few minutes prior to serving and nobody will be the wiser!
Split the Work
But here is the reality. ADD/ADHD or not, EVERYBODY freaks out about Thanksgiving dinner. It’s just one of those stressful scenarios that most people dread. One of the best ways to take the pressure off is to split the work. Tell your family, “Ok, I’ll cook the turkey if you make the potatoes and sides.” This will allow you to simply focus in on one single thing rather than try to keep every ball in the air at once.
Forget About the Cooking, Just Order In!
This suggestion might seem a bit taboo. Order in Thanksgiving dinner? From a restaurant?! Heavens!
But let’s face it, Thanksgiving requires a tremendous amount of focus and energy. Not just for the cooking, but also for the hours of spending time with your friends and family before and after dinner. There is a reason that everyone walks away from Thanksgiving feeling exhausted. There are many fantastic restaurants out there that would be happy to provide your entire Thanksgiving feast with all of the fixings for a very reasonable price. If the idea of spending hours in the kitchen trying to balance cooking times so everything is finished perfectly for dinner, well… Just don’t do it and buy your meal elsewhere!
Dealing with Family
Of course, for many people, the headache of Thanksgiving isn’t dealing with the food, it is dealing with the family. Even if we love our families, we might have strong disagreements with them about politics, the world, and personal choices. If you are recently diagnosed with ADD/ADHD, you might have to field multiple “helpful” pieces of advice from those sitting around the table. One of the best suggestions I’ve ever heard is that, prior to dinner, everyone agrees to give the most level-headed member of the family veto power. If any topic is getting a little too heated around the table, that family member can simply say “Vetoed!” and that will be the end of that conversation. This can be especially helpful if anyone gets into a position where they feel like blurting out something that could escalate the situation.
If your ADD/ADHD is acting up or you simply need a minute to yourself… my advice is take one. Just get up, make an excuse like, “I’ve been in the kitchen all day, I just need a little fresh air for a few minutes,” and remove yourself from the situation for as long as you need.
Thanksgiving can be incredibly stressful, no matter who you are. For someone with ADD/ADHD, Thanksgiving can provide a number of unique challenges. The best strategy of handling the entirety of Thanksgiving is to plan well, have a schedule and alarms, and make sure that you practice self-care and remove yourself from stressful situations. As an experienced ADD/ADHD coach, and a survivor of more than one stressful Thanksgiving dinner, please feel free to contact me today to talk about how your condition impacts your relationship with your family, friends, and your ability to plan events such as Thanksgiving.