I’ve written about our summer routine before, and while that post still is relevant and very much how I think about planning summer for my two tween boys, some things have changed. My boys are getting older, they’ll turn 10 and 12 this summer, their interests are changing and so is my parenting. I’ve learned a lot this year(with lots more to learn) about how best to parent their ADHD to bring more peace and connection to our days. So here is how I am planning a summer for two tweens with ADHD.
A note about ADHD: I mention ADHD not to be exclusionary, but to hopefully resonate with other families struggling with raising challenging kids. As with all of my posts, I want other parents who are struggling to know they are not alone. However, my suggestions for summer may suit many types of families.
Planning summer should be collaborative.
Getting my kids input on their schedules, summer or not, is key. It makes sense that the older my kids get the more they need to have a say in how they spend their time. This year we will sit down as a family to make our summer bucket list. We’ll talk about big, one-time events like visiting an amusement park, but also how our day to day schedule will run. Then, we can plan our summer around the list. Usually these are the best moments for connection and the highlights of our summer.
Create a daily summer routine
I find that even the slightest bit of structure can make a world of difference and make things easier for you. Kids thrive on routine, no matter what time of year it is. Here’s what we do to add structure to our days:
- Our bedtime is still early(7:30 to 8:00), like during the school year. My kids get up at 6 a.m. no matter what time they go to bed. Sleep is vital for their ADHD brains, so we are early to bed and early to rise.
- Independent play time. We all need a break from each other in the summer. Especially on the days we have nothing planned, we will all have time in separate areas of the house and entertain ourselves.
- My boys still have their daily and weekly chores. They get more opportunities to do extra chores for money in the summer, too.
- Mommy School (the name stuck when they were littles!)As a teacher, I know how real “Summer Slide” is. We practice math facts, write in a journal, listen to Story of the World, and read Life Of Fred Language Books. Generally this happens for about 20 to 30 minutes on the weekdays they do not have a camp.
- Screentime is limited. It’s easy for the empty hours of summer to get filled up with screens. My kids get 180 minutes a week of screen time. This includes video games and TV. They decide when they use the minutes, but when they’re gone, they’re gone.
Maybe its just because I crave a routine, but summer runs smoother when we all can get into a daily groove . This is not to say that from time to time we don’t waiver – bedtimes are later for special outings, a family movie night adds to the screen time minutes, we may get asked to do something special and rush to make it happen, etc.
There should be lots of downtime
I am not a cruise director, so I stock up on things that promote open-ended play and creative time. It’s good for kids to be bored and come up with their own plan. Encourage creative play by having just a few things on hand:
- Our yard has one section that is a big dirt pile. My kids spend lots of time digging and building forts, etc.
- We have lots of art supplies. (Grab my huge list in the sidebar, if you haven’t already.) The supplies are readily available on a few shelves when inspiration strikes.
- Blocks, legos, Kapla Blocks, and Magna Tiles are available at all times.
- We visit the library weekly to make sure we have enough to read. My boys are voracious readers and can go thru 5 or 6 books a week.
Play to their strengths
We often overlook our ADHD kids’ strengths as we try to accommodate and “fix” their deficits. Without the stress of school, homework or a heavy sports schedule, its easier to spend time enhancing your kids’ super powers.
That might look like more trips to the library for a voracious reader. an art class for the doodler, lots of hikes for the nature lover or stocking up on wood scraps and nails for the builder.
Not quite sure what their strengths are? Ask them about the one thing they’d like to do this summer and go from there. Or take time to explore a few new things and see what excites them.
Work ( a little ) on their deficits
Summer is a great time to take a step back and work on something that your child has found challenging during the school year. I cover some of these things in ” Mommy school” which happens on a regular basis. (the key is regular so there is less whining about it.)
I try to make it fun, and light and not too forced. Although, inevitably, I miss the boat on that sometimes. It’s not all rainbows and unicorns when we work on the stuff that’s hard.
Remember it’s all about connection.
I do feel like a big weight has been taken off my shoulders now that I have just a few things in place. By putting a little routine and rhythm into our days we are freed up to enjoy all those wonderful opportunities to connect with our kids.
After all, isn’t that what it’s all about?
I love comments! Please add any ideas that have worked for you.
Want more on ADHD?
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