Do you have a family vacation planned this summer? As a parent, you want to create fun-filled memories for your family. And you desperately want that much-deserved break. However, vacations for families impacted by ADHD can be frustrating and difficult, to say the least.
We’ve all been there. That vacation you were looking forward to sharing with your kids quickly turned to a series of emotional outbursts and misbehaviors. But why?
Why Are Vacations So Difficult?
Vacations can take a toll on our kiddos with ADHD. Take a moment to think about your most recent family trip. Focus on the day in day out functions of the trip. What you’ll find is a week filled with the very things our kids find challenging. A week of all the things that make ADHD symptoms worse.
- Transitions: Vacations transition us from a place of comfort and routine (home) to a new and unfamiliar environment (your vacation destination). While that may be exciting for some, it can be quite un-nerving for those with ADHD. Vacations are also filled with multiple transitions during the day. Sightseeing and varying activities require transition after transition.
- Lack of Sleep: Let’s face it, most of us need a vacation when we get home to recover from vacation. We tend to be one the go, stay up later than usual and get up early to fit in everything we want to do and see. While most can adjust to this type of schedule, lack of sleep can leave the ADDer unable to control his/her emotions and a lack of sleep make ADHD symptoms worse.
- Flexibility & Patience: Even though vacations are wonderful, they usually require a “go with the flow” attitude, flexibility to do some activities others may want to do and patience to deal with everyone and everything…(you know I’m right)
So What Can You Do to Make Vacations More Enjoyable?
Plan Ahead: Decide what activities you want to enjoy or sites you want to visit. Decide ahead of time, even if it’s the night before, what the next day’s agenda will be. This will provide some structure to your vacation and make your ADDer feel more at ease.
Prep Your Child Before Vacation: I recommend talking with your ADDer in the weeks leading up to your vacation. Talk about what you will be doing and where you will be going. Discuss expectations you may have for behavior while on the trip. And of course, get your child’s input on something he/she would like to do as well.
Prep Your Child Each Night/Morning During Vacation: Each night, sit down with your child and praise them for something from that day. Even if it was a difficult one, acknowledge that, and find something to praise your child for. Share the schedule for the next day. It doesn’t need to be an hour by hour break down, just simply tell him what you will be doing for the day and in what order. Remind him/her of any behavior expectations. The next morning, give a quick refresher of the day’s activities. If you know something, in particular, will be challenging that day for your child, let him/her know you understand and that you’ll be there.
Keep your Morning & Night Time Routines the Same: Even if you will be getting up and going to bed later, try and keep your routine, the order in which you get ready, the same. This will help your child feel more comfortable and also provide structure.
With a little planning and lots of patience and understanding, you can have a more enjoyable vacation experience with your ADDer. What tips do you have for surviving vacations with your ADHD child?