This summer, I wanted to go on some road trips to reconnect with family members we haven’t seen for awhile because of COVID. What I didn’t want was whining about being bored or how long the car ride was, and I definitely didn’t want fighting. Both of my kids have ADHD and they both also get car sick if they read too long in the car, so I have to take that into account when planning our trips. We have a daily 2 hour limit on screen time because I know their brains begin to turn to mush after that. Especially in the car, electronics become a catalyst for a severe case of the grumps. So, before setting off on our first trip, I set aside half an hour and did some planning. When we set out on our 8 hour car trip, I was nervous, but determined to take advantage of the opportunity to grow our relationships. Here are the steps I implemented:
Planned ahead: I wrote down all the car games, discussion starters and boredom busters I could remember and then looked up more to create an ultimate list. I downloaded podcasts, picked up CDs from the library, and printed game boards. With very little prep time, I was able to come up with a very helpful list, which you can download for free here.
Prepared the kids. I let them know we weren’t going to have extra electronic time just because we were confined to the car. I asked them to add some ideas to the list of car activities which gave them some ownership and helped get them excited about the drive. By letting them know the expectations ahead of time, I gave them
Time blocked so we were engaging different parts of our brains at different times. We would do a silly, funny game for a while and then listen to a book on CD before doing a scavenger hunt. When tensions got high or people got antsy, I allowed short spans of time for electronics to break up the trip. This helped their ADHD brains focus on one stimulus at a time and maximize their attention spans.
Do you know what happened? We had a great time, and a trip that normally would have been a chore at best (and occasionally turned into an explosive journey) seemed a lot easier. We even giggled our way through some of the worst parts of the traffic. If I got tired or fidgety while driving, I enlisted the kids’ help to keep me focused. Not only was it a more pleasant experience than if we were all engrossed in our own worlds and shielded behind our headphones, we ended up having some great conversations (such as a theological discussion about infant versus believers’ baptism). Since this experiment, we have done this a couple of other times and we actually look forward to road trips now.
If you have some road trips planned with your kids, download the list here and give it a shot. I know the few minutes of prep will be well worth your time. Let me know how it goes by posting on the Facebook page @Fam_Flourish.
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The content found on Flourishing Family Coaching’s website and blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding ADHD, anxiety, depression or any other medical conditions. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website or blog.