ADHD Summer Survival Tips
How to keep ADHD kids happy and healthy all summer long. Plus, is summer the right time for a medication vacation?
ADHD Summer Tip 3: Make Lists
What if you are a working parent who is not at home to oversee such daytime excursions? According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 60.2% of married women were in the labor force in 2005, making activity-planning one more item to add to parents' already-extensive "to-do" list: "I would recommend that parents sit down with their child care providers and explain the special circumstances and specific expectations regarding daytime structure," Young says.
To do this, "a schedule or a list would be very helpful and effective," he says. Don't be too draconian. "You want them to have plenty of fun during the summer and not simulate the school day. Lists, along with a general time frame of what needs to get done during the day, will be helpful." For example, 7-8 a.m. is breakfast time, followed by a 9-11:30 a.m. visit to a friend's house, and reading time at 2-2:30 p.m.
Finally, whether your relatives help with child care, or they are simply around for a summertime visit, "it's important that all family members agree to maintain the routines for children with ADHD to function well," says Teitelbaum. This includes plans around medication and behavior modification, common treatments for ADHD.
ADHD Summer Tip 4: Set a Bedtime
Having fun-filled summer days often hinges on getting a good night's sleep. However, many children with ADHD have difficulty sticking to a regular bedtime. They may get preoccupied with TV or computer games or just have difficulty winding down. As a result, they can be tired and unwieldy the next day. And that can drive parents crazy.
Bad bedtime habits are "more typical of kids with ADHD because their bodies are always active, and it's harder for them to settle down to go to sleep," Fleiss says. And no matter what time these kids go to sleep, they often get up at the crack of dawn, she adds.
A set bedtime is essential for kids with ADHD -- and this should not change simply because the days are longer in summer.
"Set a bedtime Monday through Friday, then be more flexible on weekends," Fleiss suggests, and encourage downtime for an hour before the desired bedtime. Read with your child, watch something relaxing on TV, or tell him or her a story to create a transition from an active phase to a sleep phase. And "give in once in awhile. If you go to Great Adventure for the day, you don't have to run home to get your kid in bed by 9:30 p.m."