For lots of families like ours, summer break is a great opportunity for us to relax a bit. Dad doesn’t have to pack lunches; breakfasts don’t have to be eaten by a certain time; if the kids want to stay in jammies all day, they can. And no fighting about whether or not homework has been done.
If your child has ADHD, however, summer break can be extra stressful for bored kids, and bored ADHD make for rowdy ADHD kids. But how do you combat that if you work full time, like my husband and I both do?
To keep boredom to a minimum, I’ve scoured the internet for how to manage summer break with three ADHD kids, and here are some tips I found.
- Let Them Play, A LOT: According to http://www.ADDitudemag.com, kids need to be able to run, jump, explore, tumble and wrestle in order to work off some of that excess energy, and kids who spend time outdoors feel calmer and more focused than those who spend hours on the computer or on asphalt playgrounds. Of course there are your typical sports, but don’t forget these activities that don’t take a lot of space, time, or money. And even though it may not be ideal, some of these ideas can be done inside if it’s too hot, raining, or you simply don’t have a lot of outdoor room.
- Build a fort with some ropes tied to a fence, and sheets, or use tables and chairs (inside, outside)
- Use sidewalk chalk for hopscotch and/or 4-square
- Set up a sprinkler on a hot day and let them play. Don’t forget squirt guns.
- Have a dance party (inside, outside)
- Create an obstacle course with funoodles (inside, outside). Pinterest has great ideas for these that you could tailor to the size of your space and your kids’ ages. And change them up when the kids get bored.
- Twister is always fun and physical, and can be done indoors or out
- If you have the tools and skills, build something together, like a tree house, dog house, skateboard ramp, toy box, book shelf, etc.
- Keep a Routine – Fastbraiin.com reminds us that while it’s tempting to relax bed times over the summer, especially for older kids and teens, that’s not always the best strategy. Consider letting your kids stay up an extra 30-60 minutes, but not till midnight. Also, make sure they still get out of bed close to their regular school time as well. Keeping meals/snacks to roughly the same time each day also helps keep the “hangries” away.
- Use a calendar – Plan ahead for things like summer camps, vacations, weekends with grandparents, day trips, and swim/sports lessons. For days where nothing outside the home is scheduled, plan the day in blocks of times. What activities will they do in the morning? Afternoon? Evening? What chores should they do, and when? For older kids who can mow the lawn for example, you’ll want to schedule that outside the heat of the day, early in the morning or after dinner. If you plan an outside movie night, put it on the schedule for an evening after dark. Plan a trip to the zoo, museum, park, swimming pool, trampoline park, library, river, lake, etc., and put that on your calendar well in advance so the kids have something to look forward to.
- Host a “Drive-in movie” night. Let your kids spend the week creating their own “cars” from boxes or laundry baskets and art supplies. I found this photo at http://www.solagratiamom.comThen let them pop popcorn, hang a sheet in the back yard for the screen, and show a movie in the evening.
- For older kids, replace school homework with HOME homework. I’m not talking about giving them busy work or tons of cleaning, but have them help the household by creating a menu plan for the week with their favorite meals or recipes they’d like to try. Likewise, they can create a “menu” of activities they would like to participate in over the summer. Older kids can be responsible for making your grocery list. If you’re taking a summer vacation, have each child make a list of things they need to pack. Older kids can even plan a day of activities for the whole family. This lets them feel helpful and that they have a say in how they’ll spend their vacation.
- Another list idea is to have each child create a list before summer starts of activities they can do independently when they get bored. Post this list somewhere handy, and if your child starts complaining that they’re bored, ask them to refer to their list of preferred activities. If you have an artist or a crafter in your house, make sure they have supplies to keep them busy. If you have an avid reader, borrow lots of interesting books from your local library. Many schools this time of year host Spirit week with things like “Crazy Hair Day” or “Messy Art Day”. Let your kids plan a couple Spirit weeks for the summer.
- Don’t completely eliminate screen time, but don’t use them to fill in all your child’s free time. Instead of using screen time and electronic devices haphazardly, fastbraiin.com suggests regulating the amount of time children get to use them, and for what purposes.
- Take advantage when possible of local resources. Lots of bookstores and libraries will have free story times. Some larger grocery stores may offer cooking classes for kids. DIY stores like Home Depot or Lowe’s often have free build days for young kids. Churches have programs like vacation bible school. Museums, zoos, science centers, local gardens, etc., have free days, or camps and programs too.
- If your kids enjoy camping, let them pitch a tent or create a campsite in your yard. If you have a fire pit, use it for a weenie roast and to make s’mores.
So, take a few minutes to talk to your kids about activities they really like to do, places they’d like to go, things they’d like to see, etc. Get them involved in their summer plans to ensure they’re a hit. Just remember the sunscreen when you’re outside! Next, we’ll talk about thrifty ways to eliminate boredom! In the meantime, feel free to comment below fun ways you banish the boredom blues for your ADHD kids (or any kids in general!)