Join the club. You sweat the shopping and preparing a huge meal or a dish only to be met with comments about what is missing this year. Gifts elicit a noncommittal response. You know you there will not be a Thank You note from relatives. If you are lucky, there will be no negative remarks about your child who has a learning disability or ADHD.
Anyway, one of the kids will have a meltdown before the evening is over (maybe it won’t be yours). At the end, you and your family are exhausted and irritable. No one is happy. Let’s not replay these scenes again!
Visualize what a successful gathering with family would look like. Keep in mind that we are talking about reality, not fiction. This is like planning a child’s birthday party. Remember the advice that is given for arranging play dates for a child with ADHD or LD. Keep it simple. Your stress, anger and general sense of being harassed will set the tone for how your family experiences the event. Buy a pre-cooked turkey breast at the grocery – who will know? No one dies from eating stuffing prepared from a box, gravy from a jar, frozen rolls, vegetables or pie! Nothing we make ever tastes like it did when we were children.
A successful gathering involving children has a set beginning and end. There is some structure to the event. Dinner happens at a certain time. Dessert has a set time. Focus on activities for the young guests. Get out some old-fashioned board games; the adults might like to play too! If the TV is on, try having a family-friendly movie for everyone to enjoy.
If you are the guest, decide in advance how long you are staying. Come prepared with activities for your children that can be enjoyed with others. If your child is a “picky” eater, bring something that can be shared with other children. When you or another family member is tired – time to leave! Better to go before you feel exhausted; things just go downhill from there.