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Tips for Surviving Vacation with ADHD Children

Cj Mackey

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Having three children with ADHD is challenging on a daily basis. Add the excitement of a planned vacation into the mix and things can quickly spiral out of control. As parents we have been lucky enough to offer our children vacation opportunities that we never experienced as children. But managing our kids so that we are creating wonderful vacation memories rather than nightmares is something that has taken time, and trial and error, to accomplish.

Keep the expectations low key - It's perfectly natural as parents to want to see your children excited about a vacation that is going to take time and money to plan. Unfortunately, adding excitement and anticipation to children with ADHD can exacerbate their normal symptoms of inattention, impulsiveness and hyperactivity. We found that out first hand when our son's teacher contacted us two weeks prior to our vacation, to find out what was going on to explain the changes in our son's behavior. Try to introduce the plans early but avoid talking about it constantly, or doing a countdown to vacation.

Keep to the schedule as best you can - it's very easy to fall out of your normal routine on vacation, whether it's allowing your children to stay up later, sleep in, or eat at odd hours. It's important, especially if your children are taking medication, to try to keep to the normal schedule as best as you can. With children on stimulants, normal sleeping patterns are difficult to establish. Disrupting them will make it hard for them to get back on schedule and will result in extremely cranky, hard to manage children for the rest of your vacation.

Introduce the activities slowly - take a child who's normal attention span can be disrupted easily and put him in a situation where there are fun activities to do everywhere, and you can expect to be chasing him around in circles. As challenging as it is to pace your child, you'll be thanking yourself later. We have in the past let my son do everything the first day of vacation, only to see him become too exhausted, too sore or too out of sorts to really enjoy the rest of week.

Not every vacation we take is perfect, and even following our own advice we sometimes have bumpy moments. But the suggestions above have certainly helped reduce the stress and frustration that can accompany the excitement when traveling with our kids. And we truly do have vacations to remember, for the right reasons.

About Author : C. J. Mackey is a working mother of three, balancing a full time career while taking an active role in her children's lives. She has an advanced degree in engineering and over twenty years making technology decisions for fortune 500 companies. She has always been passionate about writing and started contributing to Yahoo! Voices in December 2010. For more professional information you can visit at


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