The truth is that the word ‘holiday’ always sounds good. My mind takes me back almost instantly to long periods (seemed long) of my childhood and my youth, without having to study, where daily activities were other than routine, sometimes unexpected, some boring, some memorable. Maybe you too had the chance to experience the same. In a word, desirable.
As a professional, the holidays have always been too short (and now, even shorter, since we are used to splitting them and do not enjoy them all together, at least most of the parents).
And what occurs in families with children having ADHD? All children, in general, having remained for several months in a regulated environment, experience the need to ‘feel’ their holidays as a period where there is no need for waking up early. It is a time with no daily obligations.
Ours will certainly share that joy, but after a few days, they will be lost. Because that order, that routine is also a compass that guides them. What for us as parents represents lazy mornings, having the possibility to make last minute plans, in a word, freedom to do whatever, for our kids this can become a nightmare and a mess. Because they are highly dependent on a predictable, regulated, and organized environment like a school.
How then are we going to combine these two situations, and obtain harmony between such antagonistic perceptions? As leaders in this adventure, we parents have to focus on providing our children with peace and balance so that they may remain calm and can enjoy and be happy. Let me suggest a few guidelines:
A. – If possible, maintain some schedules. I am thinking especially of wake-up time and meals. In Spain it is very common to relax on those two aspects. This should not be a problem, as long as summer schedules remain constant during these months.
Remember that for the youngest sleep and regularity is more than good for their brain. For the oldest, it also represents an important point of reference.
We can provide some creativity to this topic; drawing, posting pictures, or asking (in accordance with age) to collaborate in the planning of family activities.
2. – Set all possible activities and share them in time for them to process and understand the changes. ‘On Thursday at 6 pm we will be going to your aunts and uncle’s house for dinner’. The fewer the surprises the better.
3. – Our children are big fans (or might we say professionals) of television, computers and other electronic games. The ‘connecting’ time has to be set in advance and followed. On the other hand we should look for:
– Sport initiatives (positive for all of us) to burn energy and ensure restful sleep. There is still much to develop in this field for children with ADHD, but there are camps, associations, with very interesting proposals which prove to be very positive experiences for them.
– If we are fortunate to have identified what they are passionate about, let’s find space for them to experiment and develop. Sports, music, theater …
And I add, as a personal opinion: do not forget volunteering (in an appropriate age). Our children will not only hear stories and situations that will make them ‘think’. It will provide information to their mental maps that will make them stronger in the future. I am referring, basically, to values.
4. – All kids want to show, for certain things, that what they have in hand is under control. Great! But do not rely on this point. Let’s be very observant on how they operate, take the opportunity to reinforce positive behaviors and do not allow bad experiences to paralyze them. We enjoy the experience of whatever goes well and we learn from whatever does not go as well.
Of course, all this means more time with them (‘Dad, Mom, shall we fly the kite? Cook together? Make a trip to take pictures? Go together to the concert? Would you like to come with me and buy me material to draw? Can we visit the recent painting exhibition?…).
YES, BUT WE PARENTS ALSO NEED HOLIDAYS ….. or at least time to relax and unwind. Of course. Appeal when necessary and possible to friends and family that can help. For that, we will also need a plan to identify the appropriate moments, and truly dedicate them to our leisure time.
We, more than anyone, have to stay in a positive light, with good humor, in order for the holidays to represent a different learning.
Those questions may help us for our purpose:
What do we want to discover with our children?
What new plans could we invent?
What would we like them to learn?
What do we wish them to remember from this summer?
How can we ensure that we are helping them to mature?
What new values could we practice with them?
VACATION … YES! HAPPY SUMMER!