Summer Vacations with ADHD: 5 Beat The Heat Tips for Families

Dog in car for vacation or beachAah, the thrill of family vacations! Everyone piles in the car, bus or plane for a fun-filled week of togetherness and Hollywood happily-ever after endings, right? Family vacations often start with high hopes. Everyone imagines bubbly laughter, good food and happy connections. You are excited and so are your kids. Usually, things work out as you had hoped: people get along well and have a good time. Sometimes things don’t work out as much as you would have liked. Arguments, tantrums, logistical difficulties bring everyone down. What are the ingredients for a successful family vacation with ADHD on the journey? Read a few of my helpful tips below. 

How to use the 5C’s to enhance family vacations

self-Control | Compassion | Collaboration | Consistency | Celebration

African-American family looking at the computer.Use the 5C’s as the foundation for a ‘no-drama’ family experience–whether it’s a staycation, a road trip or a plane flight.

Manage your reactivity by noticing when you are getting triggered and then taking a short break to re-center. Offer yourself and your kids compassion in a heated moment, remembering that anger, tears and frustration are signs of overwhelm and insufficient personal coping tools.

Collaborate by working with your kids to include their ideas for the vacation activities. When they have buy-in on plans, they more eagerly participate in making them a success.

Set consistency as a goal instead of perfection. As you stick with your agreements and follow through on them, everybody feels more engaged and enthusiastic about cooperating to make things run smoothly. Last, but definitely not least, kick back, enjoy and celebrate being together. 

5 heat tips for happier family vacations with ADHD kids or adults

1. Before your start the trip, meet together as a family and review the itinerary.

Family headed to the beach togetherKids with ADHD like to know what’s coming down the pike because it helps them prepare for transitions and adjust their expectations.                                         

Also, go over the scheduled activities, talk about any possibilities and make a list of what people would like to do. Discuss the difference between “have-to” events and “want to” options. Add one desired activity from each person to the vacation plan.

2. Consider your child’s capacity for self-entertainment while you’re in transit.

Be realistic about what your child or teen with ADHD can actually tolerate in terms of travel. Budget enough bathroom and body breaks. Create a do-able list  of acceptable games and activities. While on vacation with ADHD kids, it helps to throw in a few surprises to keep them on their toes, along with the essentials you need to bring. Also, try to save technology for the latter part of the trip when the other activities have lost their appeal.           

3. Decide how much technology your kids can have, when and where. 

Clearly explain the limits around technology before you leave. If you want to use technology for rewards or relaxation time, make sure you outline the conditions when these will occur.

If you decide to give them bonus screen time, name it as such and talk about why. It’s no fun to spend your vacation negotiating tech time so set the boundaries before you go.

4. Create a strategy (in advance) of issues and behavior that trigger folks so you are prepared if they happen.                               

By planning for these potential upsets, you can rely on similar past incidents to give you strategies for responding more effectively if they occur on this trip.

Together, think about what’s worked in the past and what hasn’t. Brainstorm the tools you’ll need to deal with such challenges successfully if they occur this summer. Create and agree on specific ways to slow things down when temperatures rise and tempers start flaring.

In addition, a sense of humor is your best traveling companion while on vacations with ADHD kids and adults. Don’t sweat the small stuff. If your son is fresh to you, say “Fresh is for vegetables not car rides.” If your kids are yelling at each other and you can’t hear yourself think, put on one of your favorite tunes, roll down the window and sing out loud. They’ll be distracted and complain about the cold.

5. Stay positive.                                                                                               

Try to see the silver lining. A bad traffic jam may be the perfect time to break out the secret snack and delight everyone.

Remember, kick-back, enjoy and celebrate being together!

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