Change is hard on children. For children with ADHD, change is extra challenging. As a mom of an ADHD child, you’ve spent the last nine months helping your child succeed with her school routine. Summer vacation means the familiarity of her school routine goes out the window, and now you begin anew with a summer routine. You may be anxious about your munchkin’s tolerance for a new summer vacation routine. Just like during the school year, summer time transitions will become easier with time and practice. With the following pointers, you can ease your child’s transition trauma and have a wonderful summer vacation!
Do a weekly or daily overview of your activities
You may have camps and trips scheduled. Discuss your plans with your child often, letting them get used to what is coming up. Discuss daily plans with your child and build in a lot of time for transitions between activities. Keep your days simple, avoid the temptation to pack in multiple activities into one day.
If your munchkin becomes very anxious about new activities, spend a lot of time studying up on the activity ahead of time. If they are attending camp for the first time, plan to attend with a buddy. Show them photos of the camp location and activities online. Take your child to the camp location ahead of time to get them familiar with the surroundings.
Give your child plenty of warning when moving from one activity to the next. Your ADHD child lives in the moment, so they will need a lot of time and multiple cues or warnings about what happens next. If you know your child loves the beach and has trouble leaving, entice them with something they will enjoy upon leaving. For example, on the way to the beach, tell them what time you will be leaving the beach. Let them know they may have ice cream (or some other treat they love) when they arrive home from the beach. This may get you a little more cooperation when it’s time to pack up and go.
Reduce access to distractions. If you have a swim lesson at 10am, you might not want your child watching a TV show or playing their favorite game when they wake up. They may have a hard time shifting focus to getting dressed and ready to go if they are in the middle of having fun. If your child’s bedroom is cluttered with toys and other distractions they will have a harder time focusing on getting ready to go. Declutter toys, keep lots of clear open spaces in their bedrooms, and your child may be less anxious and more focused.
Continuity is Key
Keep your daily schedule similar to your school year schedule. Try to maintain your child’s bedtime. It may be light out until well past nine, but kids with ADHD do better when they are well rested. Letting your little munchkin stay up late during the summer might disrupt their sleep routine. You may end up with a very cranky child, who finds it all the more difficult to transition between daytime activities. Stack the chips in your favor, get some blackout curtains and enforce bedtime.
Care for Yourself Too
Build in some self-care time for yourself. Make plans that will rejuvenate and recharge your batteries. Successful routines require a lot of patience and consistency from mom. It can be taxing! Your well-being will help your child’s well-being.