Schools have structures and routines to manage the school day. While weekends and holidays are more relaxed times, your child with ADHD will still require these routines and structures to help them manage. While leisure times don’t have to be scheduled tightly like school, it is important not to discard the routines completely.
For holidays and weekends, you need to think about the activities and environments you might be going to and how these will affect your child with ADHD. The symptoms of ADHD, impulsivity, hyperactivity, lack of attention and social and communication challenges will be helped if you are able to keep routines in place.
It is a good idea to make a weekend and holiday schedule with your child to help them manage the days and the transitions to new activities and places. By keeping this routine going it will also help your child to transition back to school. In thinking about this, what types of things do you and your child need to consider for managing the weekends, let’s have a look:
Set some goals for the weekend and holidays. By doing this your child has another focus and this is an incentive to learn something new or build on a current skill.
Example: Your child has been taking swimming lessons and is determined to be able to swim a length of the pool. Set a goal to swim ½ a length, then ¾ and then the full length. By doing this your child is having incremental success along the way to achieving their big goal.
Try to keep these times as close as possible to the normal times with regular healthy snacks in between. Avoid unhealthy foods to avoid possible behavioural issues. Continue the pattern of sitting for meals.
For special activities such as movies or a visit to the zoo, plot these on a weekly schedule so your child will know which day they are happening and that other things will occur around them.
Example: Create a schedule – Monday: Activities at home, morning snack then the park, lunch at the park and after lunch at 1.00pm the movies.
Consistency is the key here. If you change these for weekends and holidays keep them the same each day. Have a regular wake up time and a go to bed time.
Example: Saturday: Aim to be out of bed and dressed by 9.30am for day activities as per schedule and by 8.00pm in pajamas and in bed ready to sleep.
Often on holidays you will take the family to new places. This may mean new experiences for your child. Prepare them as much as possible beforehand so they can manage these experiences.
Example: Going to a theme park, ‘today we are going to the Adventure Park. There will be lots of people and it will very noisy, people will be laughing and screaming because they are having fun. You can choose four rides to go on, then we will have a snack and then we will come home’.
It is important to involve your child in the development of these routines and schedules because they will understand the reason for them and it is a help for the whole family to be organised. It will also begin to teach them how to create routines and schedules for themselves, which will help them to be more independent in the future.