In last week's Share Post, I wrote about why vacations and free time can be torture for those of us with ADHD. After all, children and adults alike need structure in order to be as productive and organized as possible. Without that day planner, school or work routine, etc., we often find ourselves troubled with where to start, what to start and how to end.
When planning a family vacation or scheduling summer activities for your children...or any other time where your days are unstructured, consider the following suggestions:
- Plan ahead. Don't wait until you're at your destination to decide what you want to do. You might end up staring at each other, trying to figure out your day(s), only to lose out on precious exploration time. If your free time is at home, plan that out as well, so you don't waste all of your time watching TV, playing video games or surfing the net.
- Children with ADHD typically benefit from structured activities. It's not too late to sign up for camp or classes. Discuss the plan with your child so that he/she has input.
- For family vacations, decide as a team what you would all like to do. Chances are that there will be lots of disagreement over chosen activities, so make sure each family member has an equal say.
- Try and stick to regular meal and bedtime routines. Both adults and children benefit from staying on target so that sleep schedules aren't disrupted, resulting in irritability and fatigue.
- Though some parents choose to stop medications in the summer, discuss that option first with your child's physician. Remember that hyperactivity, impulsivity and inattention don't take a vacation. Your child might benefit by having ADHD symptoms under control even when school isn't in session.
- Use this time to re-connect. School/work days are fast paced and filled with stress, triggering tension between family members. Discuss the past year and what each family member might change in order to have better success after vacation is over.
- Allow the children to take the lead at times in deciding activities. Children with ADHD in particular, feel they are criticized and scrutinized due to their problematic behaviors or ADHD symptoms. Take a deep breath and relax. Point out each person's strengths and gifts.
- Learn new skills. Take a short course in an area you've always wanted to explore. Find activities that allow for all ages to attend so you can strengthen your family bond. Consider classes that encourage physical exercise, so that everyone can improve their health.
- Don't let nutrition take a back seat just because you're on vacation. Try and choose healthy meals which will also improve the mood of the entire family.
- Allow for down time. If you or your child needs to "chill" and do nothing, go for it! There's no rule that says you must fill your days with activities. Relax!