7 Tips to Surviving the school holidays with ADHD
With school holidays fast approaching I can hardly believe we are here again! Where does the time go and how does it move so quickly? I feel like we are just missing this valuable time with our children so much, we pack so much into our lives that things just move at a massive speed.
Time aside, we have reached the school holidays again. As much as some of our children love this time away from the rules and routine of school, it can cause big upheaval in the family household. Whether that be just a change in routine, a lack of things that they prefer to do or a change in care with the holiday care provider, either way it changes life as our children know it.
As much as I love school holidays I can find them challenging some days and I long for the hour when my husband walks in the hours to ‘take over’ to give me a break. I am sure we have all experienced these days and some of us are lucky enough to have that support but others are unfortunately not for a variety of reasons.
This brings me to my 7 tips of surviving the school holidays and I hope that you can just take away at least one to make this time an easier process for you.
Tagged ADD, ADHD, BEYOND THE MAZE, diagnosis, medication
1. Use holiday care where possible
Sometimes this can be a challenge in itself. Firstly, even if your child can handle holiday care or they can handle him/her. I know myself holiday care is a big challenge for us and part of the reason why I work for myself and can’t work for an employer as sometimes we just don’t have it. Even if you can get in one day of the school holidays just to give you a break if you are not working then it will help you to rejuvenate. Remember, take this time for you, not to clean the house, you can do that at any time.
Of course, if you work full time and don’t have any time off over the school holidays then you have no choice to use holiday care. If you are lucky enough to have your child handle the difference in routine of holiday care and have a centre that will accept him/her then great but you may still have a bit of a rocky road.
Sometime holiday care centre’s rotate staff during this time which can set your child out of routine enormously as they don’t know for certain what staff are going to be there each day.
Talk to the centre about this and see if there is a particular staff member that will be there every day over the holidays and advise that staff member of your child’s needs and how they need to be supported. Ensure that your child knows how that staff member is and that they can go to them if there is a problem.
Re-assure your child that they are in a safe environment and to have fun.
If they need time out, find a place with your child in the centre that they would like to go when things get to much and agree that this is where they will go. Tell the centre about this as well so they know when your child is there that people are to leave him/her alone.
Communication is the key here and talk to both your child and the centre as much as you can.
2. Educate your holiday care centre about ADHD
As old as the ADHD diagnoses is, there is still so much that people do not know about it, even educators and carers. Compile as much information as you can and provide it to them. Talk to them about how your child functions and where problems may arise. They will need to know if there are certain situations that trigger certain behaviours and how they may handle these behaviours should they arise. Stay tuned to my website for books and flyers to provide to your centre to assist.
3. Schedule the holidays
You may groan at the thought of running to schedules or plans but it doesn’t have to mean that everything is scheduled. You can just make a list of what you may do over the holidays. Put it up on the fridge or the bathroom mirror for everyone to see. Schedule some fun things to do. The reason for scheduling is so your ADHDer knows what to expect and when. Getting up in the morning when they expect that they are not going to be doing anything and then telling them that you have decided to go to the beach and they have to be ready in 10 minutes may be a recipe for disaster. You haven’t warned them that this is going to happen so their world will change in a matter of minutes and they haven’t had time to adjust to that. Scheduling will prepare them for what is happening on what days and help them to be ready for what they are doing.
4. Prepare for outings
Pre-plan is the key here. If you are planning on the movies, ask them to help you decide which movie to go to. If you purchase the tickets online ask them to help you, pick a time together and then buy the tickets together. If you are going to a park, beach or friends house involve them with packing the bag, lunch or way to drive if you have to look up the way. Involving them with the planning will help them understand what is coming and what to expect. It will reduce the unknown factors which will help them feel more comfortable with what is happening.
5. Understand that things may not always go to plan
You may have the best of intentions and have planned things out perfectly and then all of a sudden things end up going south. Accept that these things happen and deal with them as they come. Don’t get caught up with the time, if you are late you are late there isn’t anything you can do about that. Most times if you get caught up with being late it just makes things worse for all of you given the stress that is caused for everyone. Sometimes you may even have to miss that playdate all together if things are really bad. Just accept that this is the case and things could have been worse if you forced it to happen.
6. Ask for help
Don’t be afraid to ask for help and ask for time out. If you have a trusted friend who also is home during the school holidays and you know would be able to help with your child then ask. Maybe you could offer to take their child for a day or few hours in return for them taking your child. Make it a fun time for the children to get together. If you have family available ask them to help for maybe a day or two as well. If you have a partner and they work, ask them to take a day or two leave to help you as well. Share the load as much as you can.
7. Look after yourself
I know I talk about this a lot, but it is so important. If we are not functioning on full cylinders then how can we help our children? Take a break every now and then. Honestly, if that means that you have to put your child in front of the TV, X-Box, iPad or whatever that electronic preference is in your house then do it! So much guilt it around this and yes, I completely agree that it should be monitored. However, if you are near the point where you feel you need the break then you do! The way I see it, you are much better off allowing your children to have this time to distract them than you absolutely losing it with them because you are so tired that you need a break.
If you have a partner that has worked through the school holidays, then use a period over the weekend where you can just do something for you. Whether that is going for a walk, swim or just seeing a movie for yourself, enjoy it, you are entitled to it.
School holidays can be both rewarding and exhausting, sometimes on the same day.
Just do the best you can and remember to have fun.