Summer is here again and along with it comes lots of fun and freedom. This can be a mixed blessing for those with ADHD and their loved ones. There is less structure during the summer and sometimes that can lead to an increase in ADHD symptoms. Being a single mom with three young daughters can be especially difficult when we all have ADHD issues. There's nothing I hate worse than hearing the dreaded phrase "Mom, I'm Bored!" As if I was the entertainment committee chairman or something? I am spontaneous and I have a playful spirit. I am not good at planning and executing activities on a daily basis. It may not seem that difficult to do for some people but for me it just doesn't come natural.
Relaxing doesn't come natural for most of us with ADHD either. I have always been told to 'just relax and have fun' and that tends to make me even more stressed. How can I lie around and do nothing when so much needs to be done and my mind won't stop thinking even for a second? My kids are in constant motion and seem to create a whirlwind of mess and chaos around them. Even when they are sitting still they have a bad case of 'verbal diarrhea' that seems to be contagious amongst them. I can't even hear my own brains constant barrage of thoughts over theirs. So what are a poor mom and her kids to do?
Here are some suggestions to make life this summer a little easier and more fun:
Plan a few fun things to do over the summer and spread them out on your calendar. Write these down on a big calendar so the kids can see them and anticipate these fun activities during their unstructured time. Plan a few play dates and small 'mini-vacation' activities that your family enjoys. Go explore some new local spots right in your own town and create an adventure of your own.
Keep your basic family rules and routines in place. It is ok to be flexible during the summer or to have special summer rules and routines but try not to vary them too much from your regular routine. Kids need consistency and structure even in the summer. This is especially true for those with ADHD. Just because they are on vacation from school doesn't mean they don't still have responsibilities around the house. Kids also need adequate sleep so they won't be irritable.
ADHD kids are very creative and they also need plenty of unstructured play time to explore. Allow time for them to 'do nothing' or to entertain themselves. Let them know that it's OK to be bored sometimes and then let them solve the problem for themselves.
Allow for plenty of time for your ADHD kids to share their thoughts and feelings with you as well as just 'hang out' with you everyday. If they know they will have special time with you they will be less inclined to tell you every thought as it comes to them or to try and compete with their siblings to receive your attention.
Get plenty of exercise and time outdoors. Kids with ADHD need plenty of time to run around and play and release their endorphins. The brain chemicals that are released during intense exercise will soothe their mind and their body which allows them to relax and have more fun. Nature has a calming effect as well so let the little ones play outside often.
As for you adults - take some time out for yourself too. Plan some time alone for yourself to recharge your battery and enjoy the activities that you love to do. It seems as if the summer tends to revolve around the kids but in order for the kids to enjoy themselves they need parents who are calm. Explore your inner child and rediscover the fun of summer!
For a great summer read try this book:
CrazyBusy : Overstretched, Overbooked, and About to Snap! Strategies for Coping in a World Gone ADD
by Dr. Edward Hallowell
Are you too busy? Are you always running behind? Is your calendar loaded with more than you can possibly accomplish? Is it driving you crazy? You’re not alone. CrazyBusy–the modern phenomenon of brain overload–is a national epidemic. Without intending it or understanding how it happened, we’ve plunged ourselves into a mad rush of activity, expecting our brains to keep track of more than they comfortably or effectively can. In fact, as Attention Deficit Disorder expert and bestselling author Edward M. Hallowell, M.D., argues in this groundbreaking new book, this brain overload has reached the point where our entire society is suffering from culturally induced ADD.