For most families, summer is a nice time for everyone to relax and enjoy the time between school years. But if you have a child who struggles with ADHD, the free-form lack of structure that comes with summer can be very challenging. Children with ADHD tend to do best when they understand the boundaries, have a structure in their routines and can adhere to certain expectations. These supports disappear when the school year ends unless you plan ahead and prepare.
Here are some simple, yet effective suggestions to help you and your family survive during the unstructured times ahead:
Plan for success:
The first thing is to have some sort of idea about what you would like to see happen. If you go into the summer without any ideas, your child will fill in the blanks on their own (i.e. start doing things they want to do not necessarily what you want them to do). Having some activities available or planning some outings will help keep the days interesting and keep the kids off the video game systems or out from under your feet.
Keep a general structure for the day:
Kids do well when they can anticipate what is happening next. Keeping up with a loose structure (morning routine, mealtimes, evening routine, etc.) can help smooth out these transition times and make the day run smoother.
Maintain good sleep habits:
As difficult as it is, having a regular wake and sleep time is vital for kids, even during the summer. Try to keep to a consistent bedtime and wake time as much as possible. This will help kids maintain their physical and emotional health and have the added benefit of having some protected adult time in the evenings for you to relax.
The most important thing in all of this is to remember to have fun. Take joy in the little things and don’t be afraid to be silly. Playing with your child can bring you closer and help you feel more relaxed. It also produces some great memories and feelings for your child as this time does not last long.
Hopefully, these suggestions can assist you in having a great summer!