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 ;


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
 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



2 thoughts on “Car trips and ADHD…. A mums perspective 

  1. Karina says:

    I don’t have a child with adhd but reading this has made me more aware. Well done for an amazing post, I am sure their are many people who will benefit from this. 😄 x

    Liked by 1 person

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