Swim Through Summer by Adding Structure

Are your kiddos ready to swim this summer?  It’s THAT time of year.  The final school bell is ringing.  Excitement is stirring in students.  Teachers are ready to have the summer off.  And parents…

Well, if you’re the parent of a child/tween or teen with ADHD that feeling in your gut probably isn’t excitement.  We know all too well that summer days can be a recipe for disaster. What if I told you there was a way to ward off this looming disaster?  A way to keep yourself and your child from drowning in the stormy waters of an unstructured summer.  A life vest, so you float rather than sink.  Sounds pretty good, right?

Are you ready to strap on your life vest & swim through summer?  Here it comes…

Structure & Routine

In our hectic lives, it may seem impossible to provide structure during the summer months.  Especially if you work full time and have older children. After all, it’s summer for crying out loud!  Right?  Plus, if you can swim why would you wear a bulky life vest?

Are You Marlin?

If you don’t have ADHD, you’re more than likely capable of swimming through each day.  Focus on what needs to get done. Put off any distractions.  The Dad in “Finding Nemo” comes to mind.  Marlin was focused on one thing and one thing only – keeping Nemo safe.  And nothing could distract him.

Marlin was Focused

Or Dory?

On the other hand, your child, tween or teen with ADHD, is more like Dory.  Sure, she swims through her day…sporadically. She is constantly distracted by more interesting things. She forgets what she is supposed to be doing and must be constantly reminded.  Just thinking about her exhausts me.  Your child will be just like Dory this summer, and you will be exhausted – unless you provide him/her with the life vest of routine and structure.

Dory this summer

Why Your Child Needs Structure

Due to lagging executive functioning skills, (like Dory’s deficit in working memory) those with ADHD struggle without structure.  It can feel like sailing through a storm with a broken mast and no life vest.  Or darting around the ocean every which way like Dory.  Either way, it’s exhausting and frustrating for all involved.

Simply put...Kids with ADHD do better when they know what to do and what’s expected of them.  Setting expectations, like a routine
  • help manage ADHD behavior
  • decrease stress and arguing
  • provides sanity for parents (my favorite benefit – LOL)
  • helps with the transition back to school in the fall

How To Build a Summer Routine

The easiest way to start a summer routine is to build off your school routine.
  • Have a set time to wake up and go to bed. I’m not saying these times need be the same wake-up and bedtimes as the school year. After all, it is summer break!  Let your kid get some extra Z’s. (if you can)
  • Designate a set time for lunch. If your child takes medication, this often decreases their appetite and without a specific time to eat each day, he/she may skip lunch altogether.
  • Add any already scheduled activities, like baseball practice, and go from there.
  • Remember to get your child/tween/teen involved in the process.
We should aim for a “Nemo-like” summer – a little bit of Marlin’s focus, a little bit of Nemo’s bravery and curiosity, and some of Dory’s fun lovin’ spirit.  Providing your kiddos the life vest of a routine can help.

Aim for a Nemo-Like Summer

Have you ever tried a summer routine with your child/tween or teen?  If so, share your experiences and any ideas you have.  Then join me for Part 2 of my summer series where I share how to get creative with your schedule to add in some “Dory-like fun!”

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