Car trips and ADHD…. A mums perspective 

You have planned a holiday or day trip out with your family that’s great…..

But how do you begin to enjoy planning and looking forward to it when you know you have a long car journey planned and with previous bad experiences of travelling with a child with ADHD you are dreading it?

The family bus

 

For parents ADHD is not just a tag or a label. It’s a way of life. It affects everyone and everything. Simple pastimes like a trip to the park have to be planned in advance. Spontaneous events are sometimes more hassle than it’s worth. ADHD has a massive impact on us as a family in regards to outings and holidays. We try hard to make sure that ADHD does not effect what we do but there are going to be times when certain events and activities are just not attainable. The key is to not let the condition rule us but to work around it.

So Holidays for us is our biggest problem. To start there’s the forgetfulness associated with ADHD that causes the first hurdle for us.we have to make sure we give L at least a month to get use to the idea that we are going somewhere different which means explaining in as much detail so she understands where we are going, to some extent what we will be doing there and how long it will be. This can be difficult as L can become upset and worried about her pets, where she will be sleeping and what she will be leaving at home.

That means no surprise holidays for us. Even  with a  few weeks to get use to it we get bombarded with questions about what we are doing, where we are going? how long for? How long till we get there? Do we have to go?

All normal questions you may say; but when faced with these questions all day ( the same questions over and over again) everyday it can become annoying. Yes I said annoying as a parent I feel that I can be honest within my blog. ADHD is hard. It’s upsetting, annoying, time consuming, irritating, draining,at times embarrassing. People on the outside don’t understand. They see a child acting out and blame it on bad parenting. We have to sometimes cancel trips out because L can not cope with the situation. We sometimes have to leave early due to a deterioration in behaviour. L is medicated like so many others with ADHD but the medication is by no means a magic spell. It allows her to concentrate and calms some of the more apparent behaviours associated with ADHD but it by no means prevents all of symptoms showing through. At the same time it’s also magical. Our daughter is unlike anyone else we know. She’s cheeky and funny, she can be helpful and kind. She has so much infectious energy, defiantly keeps you on your toes.

The answer…. We shall see what occurs on a four hour car journey for our Christmas holiday. It’s the good the bad and the stressful moments of a car journey with four children.

For us there is always that sinking feeling that we realise we have planned a holiday and in order to get there there is that vital car journey. With four children it’s always an experience being in a confined space with them. There’s bickering, tip tapping, are we there yet’s along with the we’re hungry, can I have ect ect as any parent can relate the list is endless. A vehicle is confined there’s NO getting away from them or ourselves.

Travelling with a child who has ADHD (L) is politely putting it a nightmare. It’s out of routine, there’s no room to move,you can’t take everything that they want due to space, they upset your other children and  it can become a dangerous environment if that child becomes distressed or angry. There is no where to go and short of pulling over there is nothing you can do.

Or so I thought…..

Seating arrangements

With a packed car my first decision came in the form of seating arrangements. I made the decision to sit in the back with my ADHD daughter. Up to now on long journeys I haven’t done this as I prefer to be in the front but I decided to try and see if it made any difference. This meant Dad driving one child in, front me and L in middle and older two seated in back. If you don’t have as many children as us this may be an easier decision to make . When we are in the car and i am driving L sits in the front seat next to me. This causes some arguments from the older children but they know that its better that L is up front and unable to reach them as past experience has taught us that L can become quite good at annoying her sisters and getting on their nerves which in turn affects the driver trying to drive a car.

Being seated next to L means that I am with her at all times am able to keep sibling arguments to a minimum, I can also calm her with our various coping methods ;

Massage

This is L’s primary coping method since it was introduced a year ago. It’s something that she knows and loves and is a fabulous calming mechanism within our family. Obviously Indian head massage in this situation would be pointless so this is where Story Massage comes into its own. Story massage can be done anywhere at anytime for as long as your child and you want it to last. Due to it’s adaptability it is not just confined to the back. For any children or adults where it may be difficult to get to the back the massage can be done on arms, legs or stomach. This makes it a lot easier and usable while confined in a car. It not only keeps all the children entertained with a story or song but also keeps L calm and focused. It can diffuse most flare ups in regards to behaviour.

You can make up stories in advance or make them up as you travel along. You could make up a story about what you see on your journey. The possibilities are endless. There is no right or wrong. It’s 10 simple massage moves that you incorporate alongside the song or nursery rhyme. See http://www.storymassage.co.uk
 Singing songs

We sing lots of silly songs as well as nursery rhymes. Keeping children entertained means we don’t get stressed out. Making up songs and rhymes is always a funny pastime it’s also a handy idea to have a cd to hand that all the children will enjoy. We find stories they tend to get bored of but songs and rhymes work better.

Interesting landmarks

Depending on the age of your children this may or may not work for you.For us we have children ranging from 5 to 12 so sightseeing from the car is a good way to loose 5 or 10 minutes just looking out for something interesting. For us this time it was the Humbar bridge. The children loved going up and over the bridge and craning their necks to see the river below.

Humber Bridge

A treat bag

This time around I made each of my children up a bag full of activities that I found. I kept to a very low budget, no more than £2 each. Pound land was a great source of bargains for this. Bargains is a great word. Nothing has to be expensive. As a parent you may find the free or cheapest items and activities are the ones that you have the most fun with. Things do not have to become expensive.

In the bags I put activities in that the girls love to do. So for mine thats  Colouring pages, small note books as my older two love to make notes to show their friends, pencils ,a story book ,some stickers , a pack of tissues ect along with healthy snack and a individual drink each ; although note to self not to put apples and bananas in without also having a rubbish bag for left overs!

The girls loved their ‘treat bags’.  It only took a few minutes for them to sift through the contents but it provided nearly a four hour car journeys worth of entertainment thus making this journey much more pleasurable for me and Dad.

We arrived at our destination tired but chilled and settled down to enjoy our holiday. Which we did.

On the return journey I again sat in the back with L. This has made all the difference for us a family travelling in a car. On the return journey the girls had their kindle hd’s. We researched a lot into buying the children their first tablets. Review to come later.

Travelling with any children can be difficult and stressful these points can be used with any and all children in which ever way you find works best for you and your family.

Happy new year 2016 to all

Leanne

Siblings family and ADHD 

Your living with a child with ADHD. How do you manage family life? How do you explain to the people around you whats going on?

For those of you who don’t know ADHD does not just affect the child involved. It affects the whole family. From parents to siblings to even other members of the family who do not understand what ADHD is. The most affected relationship I feel is the one between siblings.

  • How do you begin to explain to your other children that one of them has ADHD?
  • How do you answer questions like what is it?
  • How do you get it?
  • Why don’t I have it?
  • how do you deal with the daily arguments about how one of your children seems to get away with everything because she has ADHD.

The simple answer is you can’t. What you can do is simplify the explanation as best you can so that they have some understanding.

 While writing this blog I have been talking to my 11 year old and getting her feelings as a sibling. Sitting listening to her is quite a revelation. As a parent I tend to go into autopilot when dealing with L’s disabilities. I research and blog but seeing ADHD through a child’s eyes is something completely different.

  
Heres what my daughter had to say:

“ADHD seems to be something that messes with your brain, it don’t work like it should do. Its really annoying and i hate it when L is naughty as she always seems to get away with it but i get told of if i am naughty. I m a little bit worried its like L is being controlled by something. She’s always screaming or shouting and you don’t know what she’s going to do next. I worry that she don’t eat cause of her medication. Would she be boring with out her energetic? Inside i feel sorry for her when i am not angry at her. Wish ADHD would go away”

I was blown away after speaking to her about this. Even after all this time i selfishly never bothered to ask my other children how they were feeling. Guilt trip aside I asked if she thought the Story Massage was helping. My daughter said yes mummy, she feels that it calms her sister down and mummy does not shout as much. (love her honesty)

 

when our daughter was diagnosed she was 7 so at the time her sisters were 9, 10 and 4. They didn’t understand what was going on. They were worried and scared about what was happening. We explained that their sister has a brain that works differently to theirs. It works faster like a galloping horse ( very much horse lovers in our house) constantly zooming forward which is why L finds it hard to concentrate and to sit still. L is impulsive, demanding, methodical. She also finds it difficult to process emotions and feelings. For us in addition to the ADHD there is also something wrong with L’s working/short term memory.

Now two years later for my older two girls this explanation is now starting to wear a little bit thin. The simple explanation no longer suffices. A great and informative website I have recently found is www.adhdkids.org.uk  Theres lots of amazing information and advice on there.

  • Do you ever get that uncomfortable feeling of not knowing how to answer a question as a parent? I do
  • How much information do you impart? No idea do you give them medical terms or simplify it 
  • What about answers to questions that you are asked by an 11 and 12 year old? Erm what if you don’t know the answers
  • Do you give them an in-depth answer or tailor it to how you think they would best understand? How do you know until you start how much they will understand

I find this age fascinating. They are no longer happy with the simple answer. For them the difficult behaviour associated with ADHD means that their sister gets away with things. Some ways that we are coping as a family are

  • Trying to not give into naughty behaviour. This is difficult for any family wether you have one,two or four children. I have learnt as a mother to pick my battles. This is extremely hard especially if you have a child that does not understand what they are doing is bad. Reward charts are a great way of getting a compromise. We use lots of them from counting down the days to an exciting event to completing mundane chores at home. The reward is always the same. Now that we have integrated Story Massage into our routine the reward could be either a massage just for them or to be able to make up their own story. My children love it.
  • Giving the older girls time out either a trip out to shops, an afternoon with family or friends or having art time at the dining table
  • Make sure that we give each individual child attention. This is always hard for anyone with more than one child.I am defiantly guilty of at times not giving my children the attention they need due to other commitments. We do this by making sure that we spend quality time with each of them doing something they enjoy or reading with them and more recently Story Massage
  • we do outside activities. This is the best place for them to run of some steam and ensures they have plenty of space. It does not have to be expensive: a walk in the woods collecting leaves or playing at the park.
  • calming down potential explosive arguments before they start: this is one of my most difficult ones. This is where story massage has become a huge help. If any of the girls are feeling tense, upset or tired massage is a great way to diffuse the situation calmly and peacefully. 

 

So my daughter and I sat down together and wrote a Story massage together. Actually this one is mostly C’s work. With the wonderful advice of one of the founders of Story Massage my daughter has written this story for other siblings who like her may struggle living with ADHD.

Living with ADHD

By Charlotte Brown aged 11

I love my little sister (calm)
But sometimes i find it hard. (the squeeze)
She gets lots of attention
And she’s really loud. (the drum)

I feel like being naughty
So i can be just like her (the walk)
But no one understands.

So instead i feel sad and angry (the bounce)
Its scary when i think too much
My tummy feels mixed inside (the circle)
Cause i’m worried a little bit too.

Yes its scary when i think too much (the bounce)
About what she might do next
I feel a little alone inside (the sprinkle)
I wish this would go away (the fan)

My sister has ADHD (the calm)
I don’t understand but i hate it (claw)
She’s always shouting and angry
She never stays still in the day (wave)
I wish ADHD would go away

But mummy makes me feel safe (the calm)
She’s there holding my hand
She protects and helps me to (the circle)
Make sense of this sister of mine

I have a little sister (the calm)
This little sister of mine (the walk)
Cause even with ADHD
She’s my sister my heart just mine (the circle)

This is really emotional for us as a family to read and by sharing my daughter hopes that it can be passed onto other siblings who are maybe struggling with their feelings like she does.

The story has been written as a story massage hence the massage moves in the brackets. Story massage is just 10 simple massage moves that can be set to any favourite story, nursery rhyme or a story you and your child make up yourselves. Its a fun  and calming way to share positive touch with children of all ages and abilities,disabled or not.  As with my daughter it can be a channel for them to give meaning to their feelings and to express what they going through. The possibilities are endless and it’s a great way of spending time with the children. 

For more information or to learn Story massage at home or in the work place please see their website www.storymassage.co.uk  Or you can contact me at www.marshamholistictherapy.weebly.com

we wish you all a merry and healthy christmas

leanne