I have learned a lot about traveling with ADHD kids, mostly as a necessity to make travel fun and survivable.
Traveling with ADHD? 5 Secrets To A Relaxing Family Vacation Even If Your Child Has ADHD
As a parent to a child with ADHD, planning a family trip can cause more stress than joy. Don’t get me wrong, traveling with children can be stressful regardless of age, gender or special needs. But throwing ADHD into travel plans, makes it a different experience.
ADHD moms, don’t worry, you’re not alone. A recent 2011-2012 CDC report stated, approximately 11% of children aged 4-17 are diagnosed with ADHD. That’s a lot of parents trying to figure out how to travel with their energetic, impulsive, inattentive bundles of joy!
Here are a few of the lessons I learned along the way.
1. Let Your Child be Part of the Planning
Let your child feel like they are part of the planning by encouraging them to look into things they would like to do while on vacation, or make suggestions of things you know will get them excited about the trip. Like anyone, the more prepared they are the better they will be able to adjust to the change in routine.
2. Set Out Clear Rules
Set clear rules for what is expected of your child and more importantly what they can and cannot do. Often this is more of a safety thing.
3. Plan Your Trip with Timing in Mind
It is more difficult for younger children to sit still and behave when tired, so plan longer parts of the trip during naps. Take advantage of any things like pre-boarding or stops for gas as an opportunity to get yourself settled or stretch their legs.
4. Be Prepared
If your child takes ADHD medication, make sure it is in your purse and not in your suitcase!
Distractions are key! Children with ADHD find it hard to focus on things that do not interest them, so if you can find something you know they enjoy (games, coloring books, movies, books, etc.) bring it with you.
5. Plan Downtime
As parents we often want to make the most out of every vacation, but sometimes the best thing for a vacation is doing nothing. Try to find them some quiet time where they can get away with fewer distractions. Noise canceling headphones are great for allowing your little one a calm escape from all the stimulation.
In The End, Remember To Be Realistic
I remember thinking because my son spent the day on the beach he would surely fall asleep quickly at night… but that never happened.
Above everything else have patience with your child. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and your child’s ADHD won’t all of a sudden go away just because you are away from home.
Take a deep breath, take a step back and remember to enjoy every trip with your child.