Tips for Surviving Vacation with ADHD Children
Having three children with ADHD is challenging on a daily basis. Add the
excitement of a planned vacation into the mix and things can quickly spiral out of
control. As parents we have been lucky enough to offer our children vacation
opportunities that we never experienced as children. But managing our kids so
that we are creating wonderful vacation memories rather than nightmares is
something that has taken time, and trial and error, to accomplish.
Keep the expectations low key - It's perfectly natural as parents to want to see
your children excited about a vacation that is going to take time and money to
plan. Unfortunately, adding excitement and anticipation to children with ADHD
can exacerbate their normal symptoms of inattention, impulsiveness and
hyperactivity. We found that out first hand when our son's teacher contacted us
two weeks prior to our vacation, to find out what was going on to explain the
changes in our son's behavior. Try to introduce the plans early but avoid talking
about it constantly, or doing a countdown to vacation.
Keep to the schedule as best you can - it's very easy to fall out of your normal
routine on vacation, whether it's allowing your children to stay up later, sleep in,
or eat at odd hours. It's important, especially if your children are taking
medication, to try to keep to the normal schedule as best as you can. With
children on stimulants, normal sleeping patterns are difficult to establish.
Disrupting them will make it hard for them to get back on schedule and will result
in extremely cranky, hard to manage children for the rest of your vacation.
Introduce the activities slowly - take a child who's normal attention span can be
disrupted easily and put him in a situation where there are fun activities to do
everywhere, and you can expect to be chasing him around in circles. As
challenging as it is to pace your child, you'll be thanking yourself later. We have in
the past let my son do everything the first day of vacation, only to see him
become too exhausted, too sore or too out of sorts to really enjoy the rest of
Not every vacation we take is perfect, and even following our own advice we
sometimes have bumpy moments. But the suggestions above have certainly
helped reduce the stress and frustration that can accompany the excitement
when traveling with our kids. And we truly do have vacations to remember, for
the right reasons.