ADHD Summer Sanity

If you are a parent of a child with ADHD, you know the quandary, stress, and frustration, of finding the right balance between keeping your kids engaged, active, and productive while still being able to enjoy the slower rhythms of summer without screens taking center stage in your child’s day.

Not all parents can afford to send their kids to summer camp for the entire summer.  For those with younger children or teens at home during the summer, there are guardrails stay-at-home and working parents can put into place to create a flow to their child’s day that combines some relaxed structure with plenty of free time.

Transitioning from the structured environment of the school year to the more relaxed atmosphere of summer can be challenging for children with ADHD and their parents. Because children with ADHD thrive with a routine, the shift can lead to disruptions in routine, increased impulsivity, and difficulties in managing time and activities. In addition, children and adults with ADHD tend to seek out stimulation one way or another. As a parent you want that to be good stimulation, not the kind that gets them in trouble with the police! To ease this transition, parents can implement several effective coping strategies that focus on maintaining routines, creating schedules, and adjusting medication as needed.

Maintaining Routines

One of the key strategies for managing ADHD is consistency, and this becomes even more critical during the summer months. While it’s tempting to let routines slide and throw bedtime out the window, maintaining a regular daily structure can provide the stability children with ADHD need. Keep bedtime, wake-up times, meal times, and bedtimes consistent. Not exact, but regular and consistent. This predictability helps in regulating their internal clocks and reduces anxiety.  Children with ADHD need to know what comes next. Incorporate regular activities such as reading, playing, and family time into the daily routine. These activities can be both structured and unstructured, but maintaining a balance is crucial.

Creating Schedules

Children with ADHD often struggle with time management and organization. A summer schedule can be a powerful tool to help them navigate their days. Create a visual schedule that outlines daily activities, using charts, pictures, or calendars. This schedule should include designated times for chores, leisure activities, outdoor play, and any summer programs or camps they might be attending. Involving children in the creation of their schedule can also give them a sense of ownership and control, which can be motivating and empowering. They would be more motivated to follow a daily schedule they had control over versus one Mom or Dad created for them.

What about parents who work during the summer months and their older kids and teens are alone for part of the day? A simple spiral notebook with a daily checklist to be completed before unstructured free time gives a child independence and accountability. Here is a simple example:

It takes just a couple minutes for the parent to complete the night before.  Or if the routine will be the same every day then a printable schedule inside a page protector allows the child to check off their tasks. Like this:

Additionally, breaking tasks into smaller, manageable steps can help children with ADHD feel less overwhelmed. For example, instead of a broad task like “clean your room,” break it down into specific tasks such as “put toys in the toy box,” “make the bed,” and “put dirty clothes in the hamper.” Using timers for tasks can also be effective in keeping children on track.

Adjusting Medication

Summertime may necessitate a review of your child’s ADHD medication regimen. Some children might benefit from a medication break during the summer, especially if their symptoms are less disruptive when they are not in a structured school environment. However, this decision should always be made in consultation with your child’s prescriber. For children who remain on medication, it may be necessary to adjust dosages or timing to align with their new schedule. Regular follow-ups with their doctor can ensure that the medication continues to be effective and that any side effects are managed appropriately.

Incorporating Physical Activity

Physical activity is crucial for children with ADHD, as it helps burn off excess energy and improve concentration as it gives the brain the stimulation it craves. Ensure that your child’s summer schedule includes plenty of opportunities for exercise, whether through organized sports, swimming, online workout videos, hiking, or simple outdoor play. Physical activity also serves as a natural mood booster and stress reliever.

Planning Engaging Activities

Summer provides an excellent opportunity to engage your child in new and interesting activities that might not fit into the school year schedule. Consider enrolling them in camps, classes, or workshops that align with their interests. Some examples are,, library Lego clubs, and book clubs. These activities provide structure and help develop new skills and interests that are difficult to fit into an already busy school year.


Transitioning to summer doesn’t have to be a daunting task for parents of children with ADHD. By maintaining routines, creating structured schedules, adjusting medications as needed, and ensuring ample physical activity, parents can help their children enjoy a productive, engaging, and manageable summer. With thoughtful planning and flexibility, the summer months can become a period of growth and enjoyment for both parents and children.