3 Tips for Getting Back on Track After the Holidays

By Dr. Mary Rooney, Ph.D.

Are you and your child having a hard time getting back into the swing of things after the holiday break? You’re not alone! The week following the winter holidays is one of the most challenging times of the year for families of kids with ADHD. The excitement and intensity of the holidays, the delicious treats, late bedtimes and lazy mornings, and extra screen time sets kids up for a difficult adjustment when they return to school. For kids with ADHD, their symptoms often seem to be at their worst this week, and many will be more argumentative and oppositional than usual. As a parent, you’re undoubtedly having a difficult time getting back into your own routine, and have less energy available to deal with your child’s challenges.

While the first few weeks in January will never be without their difficulties, there are things you can do to help them go as smoothly as possible for you and your child.

  1. Adjust Your Expectations. Your child is going to have more difficulty getting out of the house in the morning, will probably forget things that he or she needs to bring home from school, will have a hard time getting started on homework, and will have a more difficult time falling asleep at night. This is normal and to be expected! Provide your child with extra support if he or she needs it, and be patient when things don’t go as planned. Just because your child is struggling this week doesn’t mean that things will always be this way. This is a temporary situation and your child will be back on track soon.
  2. Minimize Your Own Tasks and Commitments. This adjustment period will go more smoothly if you keep your own responsibilities and commitments to a minimum. While you can’t stop doing all of the things that keep your home and life running smoothly, there are things that you can do to reduce the burden. Plan meals that require little prep work or clean up, put off any non-essential errands, and ask for help from other parents, friends, and family with things like school or activity pick-ups and drop-offs.
  3. Schedule fun family activities for the weeks ahead. For most kids, the holidays are followed by a long stretch of winter that doesn’t include many planned fun activities at home or at school. This can take a serious toll on a child’s mood and motivation, especially when a child has ADHD. Schedule fun activities that your child and your family can look forward to. Friday family movie nights, ice skating or sledding, a visit to an indoor waterpark or activity center, and a trip to your family’s favorite museum are all fun ways to spend time on winter weekends. Schedule these activities in advance, and post them somewhere at home where your child can see the list every day. When your child is feeling down, remind him or her of all of the exciting days ahead. 

The return to school after the winter break isn’t easy for kids with ADHD or their families. A little planning, patience, and understanding can go a long way in making this time as enjoyable as possible for you and your child.



Mary Rooney, Ph.D., is a licensed clinical psychologist in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of California San Francisco. Dr Rooney is a researcher and clinician specializing in the evaluation and treatment of ADHD and co-occurring behavioral, anxiety, and mood disorders. A strong advocate for those with attention and behavior problems, Dr. Rooney is committed to developing and providing comprehensive, cutting edge treatments tailored to meet the unique needs of each child and adolescent. Dr. Rooney's clinical interventions and research avenues emphasize working closely with parents and teachers to create supportive, structured home and school environments that enable children and adolescents to reach their full potential. In addition, Dr. Rooney serves as a consultant and ADHD expert to Huntington Learning Centers.


Huntington Learning Center is the tutoring and test prep leader. Its certified tutors provide individualized instruction in reading, phonics, writing, study skills, elementary and middle school math, Algebra through Calculus, Chemistry, and other sciences. It preps for the SAT and ACT, as well as state and standardized exams. Huntington programs develop the skills, confidence, and motivation to help students of all levels succeed and meet the needs of Common Core State Standards. Founded in 1977, Huntington's mission is to give every student the best education possible. Call us today at 1.800.CAN LEARN to discuss how Huntington can help your child. For franchise opportunities please visit www.huntingtonfranchise.com.

This website does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. The material on this site is provided for educational purposes only.

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