Updated: Apr 8, 2020
My girls are now 11, 9 and 7 years old, all powered with ADHD and house bound for the foreseeable future. But no fear, children are very adaptable, taking things in their stride and their lead from their parents. Whilst it’s important to have routines in place, it’s important that we don't put too much pressure on ourselves. Particularly if we happen to have ADHD too and find ourselves having to juggle work, childcare and Easter holidays with no family holiday to enjoy or days out to occupy and distract!
Let's make the most of this unique opportunity to spend some real quality time with the family. With some thoughtful planning we can maintain some semblance of routine, fight boredom and most importantly have some fun! We’ve coped with home schooling thus far (more tips on that after the Easter holidays), mostly down to structure of lessons hopefully in some way being replicated at home with homework set ideally by schools providing a working framework for lessons. However the danger with Easter, is ‘understanding what to do once schoolwork has been taken away’, do they get a holiday or not? In short our answer is keep them occupied in ‘any which way’! Let me explain…. ADHDers thrive when occupied, with a sense of purpose and structure, there is a potential for disruption when boredom sets in. We can’t stress enough how important it is for our children with ADHD to stay stimulated through physical exercise and activities that interest them and make them feel purposeful. Routines really help with this and mitigate against the dreaded "FOLI" (Fear Of Losing Interest). For inspiration we’ll use our own family as a case study as to how we achieve this, every family will have a different approach so feel free to take what is useful to you… Given that the girls are on holidays we have decided to modify their usual term timetable. Of course, there are a few non-negotiables that will continue. For instance, each week day morning, our girls are expected to be up, dressed with beds made and breakfast eaten in time to do their daily 9am Joe Wicks exercise session with the rest of the nation. The girls love it and so do we as they are happy and energised as a result. Exercise is really the best way for ADHDers to start their day as it boosts their mood and gives them momentum to get started on activities that wouldn't necessarily light up their brain in the same way.
We will continue to have reading hour and watch the odd documentary. However, recognising that the girls are on holidays, we are going to swap out the homework with some more creative pursuits (which so many ADHDers love to engage in). We are counting down to Easter Sunday and have identified some Easter projects we can do in the lead up. Here are some examples:
Decorate a hard boiled egg using Easter egg puns, paints and craft accessories. We’ve even been saving up our egg cartons so they have one each to further accessorise their characters.
Easter Bonnet making session, a few days before the Easter Bonnet parade… classic hat making session with cereal boxes, glitter, feathers, paints, whatever we can find lying around. Easter Bonnet parade (any excuse for a dress up!). Decorate the garden/whatever space is available with spring flowers bunting etc.
Easter egg/chocolate making there are no limits to what is possible, melt down chocolate with some butter, add some sparkles, food dye, then leave to set. Easter chocolate crispy cakes with mini eggs and Easter decorations, you can make any type of fairy cake and add your favourite type of mini eggs and its now Easter themed! We may even make some Easter Egg wreaths...
Even if we don't manage to do any of the above, we will definitely do an Easter egg hunt! No Easter calendar would be complete without an egg hunt, depending on the weather we’ll use the house or garden and be sure to keep a watchful eye on our dog Byron... It is tempting to do away with all the schedules and structures this Easter, particularly given the pressure and stress us parents have been under over the last few weeks trying to juggle working from home, home-schooling the children, keeping everyone fed and not letting the house fall into complete disarray! Its not easy for ADHD families to live together harmoniously at the best of times, let alone on top of each other in lockdown for an indeterminate amount of time. The key is to find a structure/timetable that works for your family - one which keeps FOLI away, allows family members to have some space for "flow time" and ensures those things that need to be done get done in an equitable manner. Be prepared to make tweaks to what you originally planned - testing and measuring is to be expected and will only improve upon what you had in place. Don't forget - enlist all family members in the task of creating the family timetable - they will be more likely to stick with it if they have ownership. They say it takes an army to raise a child with ADHD. If you're a parent that also has ADHD, it is important that you too have the support that you need to not only manage your child's (or children's and spouse's) ADHD but your own. You don't have to do it alone. The ADHD Advocate can help. To find out how, visit our website www.theadhdadvocate.com and get in touch. Have a happy and harmonious Easter!