The kids are home, everyone wants to get together, and you’re expected to have fun, fun, fun. Here’s how an ADHDer can stay sane.
by Stacey Turis
Guess what, folks? Summer is here. I know that for some of us that calls for a celebration and for some of us it calls for extra meditation. I’m the latter. I can track my sanity level as it slowly descends through the hot summer months. Summer means loss of structure and lots of change — especially if you have children who are suddenly home, making noise and wanting to eat five times a day. It’s better for their metabolism, but the dishes are insane.
For parents with children, or ADDers who are just trying to “raise” themselves, summer brings a different energy with different expectations. We’re expected to be more social, to stay up later. We’re expected to take fabulous summer vacations and keep the family entertained. I could go on and on, but my point is that all of the above involves a lot of transitions and change for an ADHDer. You try to throw one thing at us without giving us a fair transition, and it’s ugly. Throw a bunch of changes at us? I would say, “Duck!"
So how can we make this summer a good one? I’m laughing, because every year I say, “This summer is going to be a good one, I can tell!” Five days later, I’m hiding from my family in the garage. Back to making this summer a good one. I’m not going to pretend that I have the answers, but I have figured out a few tricks that help me.
Make a schedule. It doesn’t have to be a highly detailed schedule: just block time out for different activities. For example, you can make every day from 9 to 11 a.m. chore time. You can decide at that time what chores you feel like doing. That way you have a little bit of structure (you know you’re doing chores), but you allow yourself the freedom to choose the chores you’ll do.
Don’t overdo the activities. I’m not sure if it’s the extra daylight or what, but summer also brings on a wave of over-commitment. Everyone wants to fit every possible thing they can in the summer months — high school reunions, family reunions, vacations, get-togethers, neighborhood Bunko (I refuse), block parties, drinks on the patio. Enough is enough. I don’t want to be social! I just want to go to bed at 8:30 p.m. and pretend that the hot Texas sun isn’t still streaming through my windows like it’s high noon.
Get enough sleep. The day is longer and you can get more done (or at least pretend to think about getting more done), but don’t scrimp on your sleep in favor of savoring the daylight. Maintain your regular sleep schedule to keep your brain and body in working order. Don’t stay up too much later than you normally would or your transition back to reality in the fall is going to suck.
Feed your brain with seasonal fruits and vegetables. Have you seen all of the beautiful fruits and vegetables decorating the tables of the farmer’s markets and grocery stores? Fill up your reusable shopping bags! There is a compound called fisetin, which is naturally found in many fruits and vegetables, including mangos, blueberries, strawberries, and cucumber skin. Fisetin has been found to boost memory and high-level brain function, and protect the brain from aging, among other cool things. Go organic when possible to get maximum nutrition and minimum toxins. Brains don’t like toxins.
Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. ADHD brains especially need proper hydration to function properly. Well, properly for us. Brains require water and a host of other things to be nicely balanced in order to operate efficiently. If you don’t have enough water, your brain is off balance and bad things happen. To maintain good hydration, you should shoot for between nine and 12 cups of water a day. If you don’t like the flavor, or non-flavor of water, infuse a pitcher of water with fresh berries, watermelon, or citrus to name a few. Now you have made your own Vitamin Water with the nutrients from the fruits.
Summer is tough for the ADHD tribe. The good news is that it can’t kill us and we’ll most likely make it through with most of our fingers intact. The best thing we can do is to take care of our physical health, which will in turn benefit our mental health.
It’s time to let go of summer stress and start trying to enjoy it like those people in the commercials dancing to Jay Z on anchored sailboats while sipping fun drinks. Just kidding. I’ll do all of the other stuff, but even Jay Z can’t force me to have fun.