It’s Thanksgiving time in the United States, time to travel. Although the refrain of “over the river and through the woods” has transitioned to “over the highway and through the tollbooths”, no matter how far you roam, travel is an adventure. Traveling with ADHD kids, however can turn into a misadventure – if you’re not prepared for it. Here are a few tried and true tips for traveling with your favorite ADHD child(ren)…
1. Timed Travel. Perhaps because their brains are all over the place, ADHD kids like the comfort of a routine. Traveling usually means they are off that routine and a little off balance. Set a loose schedule, and each day, take time to let your kids know what and who and when and where to expect – to help them feel more secure.
2. Getting Lost. If you’re a mom, you’ve probably felt the horror in the pit of your stomach when your little one has wandered off. ADHD kids can be more prone to daydreaming and wandering off – or even reaching for a strangers hand thinking it was a parent. Help your child – and you – to feel more settled by having a plan in case of getting lost.
A lost plan doesn’t have to be complicated. Take time to place cell phone numbers in her pocket or on a sticker on the back of his shirt. When Kayla and I used to do day trips with our combined families, we would dress them ALL in the color of the day. It was easier to keep up with 7 kids dressed in red that way. Have a meeting place set – customer service, the store greeter, checkout #3, the fountain with the swan in the middle. Have a plan for getting separated on public transportation.
3. All Alone in the Crowd. Even if you’re at your cousin Elbert’s house – the one with 12 kids – make some space in the schedule for your child to have quiet time. With younger children, the routine of a nap is terrific – even if they don’t nap. It could be time to rest and read in bed.
4. To Med or Not to Med. If your child takes meds – think about how this will work best for your vacation. A day at an amusement park – maybe no medicine is needed. If you’re touring a museum, you may want a little help with focus. You have a good idea what’s best for your child. A word to the wise: it’s probably best not to share this information to extended family members. Doing so may solicit their input and possible criticism.
5. Finders Keepers. Nothing can ruin a trip any more than losing something essential – or something loved. But keeping up with stuff can be as easy as 1,2,3. If your child has things to keep up with, teach them to name the things (or count) before they leave – to make sure they have everything. We still hear Kayla’s Ron say, “Keys, phone, wallet” before he leaves our house. It’s something that still works.
And just in case, use a Sharpie to label everything. For privacy, use your last name (even a maiden name) and cell phone number, and you’ll be surprised how often Good Samaritans will call if they find something.
More? What are your best traveling tips – for ADHD kids or not? Send them via email, on the Facebook page, or in the blog comments. Next week, we’ll share some more!
PS Lost stories? For me, it was the day our kindergartner decided she didn’t want to shop any more – and settled down for a nap hidden in the middle of a coat rack in a department store. She really could sleep anywhere – although not for long that day. And for Kayla, someone once asked her to recount a time that one of her kids got lost, and she replied, “Name a major city and I’ll give you a story.”