7 Tips for Taking Your Child with ADHD on Vacation
At this time of year many families have plans to pack their bags and go on vacation. They have dreams of fun filled day and nights. They envision all the wonderful things they can do, as a family. They hope the relaxing days will bring them closer together and all will come home feeling rested, rejuvenated and ready to once again face the world.
But when you have a child with ADHD, vacations can be a challenge. Impulsivity and hyperactivity can interfere with your calm days and make you feel more frazzled at the end of the vacation than when you began your journey. We have written about managing ADHD on vacation in the past and at the end of this post, you’ll see some links to additional posts to help you plan and manage your vacation. This week, I collected information to give you ten quick tips for helping to make your vacation more successful.
Let everyone know what to expect. Create a calendar of activities and plans so everyone knows what is going on each day. Your calendar can include spending the day at the beach, going fishing, sightseeing or whatever you have decided to do. Include “free time” on the calendar to let everyone know they will have time to decide what they want to do. Make sure to place the calendar in a place everyone can see it.
Try to keep your daily routine. During the summer, especially when we are away from home, daily routines fall by the wayside; kids stay up later, sleep in, watch more television. If possible, keep up with regular mealtimes and bedtimes. Missing sleep can make your kids irritable, causing everyone to feel stressed out.
Incorporate activities for each person. Before planning all the activities for your vacation, talk to each person to find out what they would like to do. Try to make sure there are a few activities for each person in the family so no one comes home feeling left out.
Bring activities to fill in the down time. Make sure to pack activities to help your children fill in the times when nothing is going on. Bring coloring books, books to read, board games and a few favorite toys.
Plan activities based on your child’s attention span. Each child has the ability to pay attention and be engaged in an activity for a certain amount of time; if it’s an activity that is really interesting, the time span will be longer. Keep your child’s interest level and attention span in mind when planning family activities or you will end up being frustrated or chasing your child around the entire time.
Incorporate quiet time into each day. Everyone, especially children with ADHD, need some down time each day. Bring along quiet activities and set a specific time each day where everyone can unwind. For some children, this may mean reading a book, for others, drawing or listening to music may help relax them.
Have your child keep a scrapbook to remember the vacation. Supply each of your children with a notebook and a digital camera. During the vacation, they can save items such as ticket stubs, brochures and other mementos of their trip. Each day, have them write a sentence or two about the plans for the day. When they get home, they can add in pictures from the digital camera to create a special scrapbook.
Remember, a vacation is a time to relax, have fun and enjoy one another’s company. Keep your expectations in line with this so you don’t come home disappointed.