8 Summer Hot Spots for ADHD Families, According to Parents

Keeping kids with ADHD happy and engaged while school is out is a full time job. Read on for relatable parenting frustrations and helpful tips to quell boredom, sibling squabbles, and more.

Color photo of the bare feet of little kids sitting on a picnic table.
Color photo of the bare feet of little kids sitting on a picnic table.
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Summer Hot Spots

Parents seldom deny it: Summer break comes with its own set of challenges. Sure, those nine months spent cajoling your kids (and maybe even yourself) out of bed and to school on time are over. You survived the late-night homework and test agony. You and your child have earned this break from school. But when the last bell rings, challenges shift to home, and parents lose out on support.

Summer “hot spots” can be extra fiery for big families — managing multiple schedules, sibling squabbles, varying academic needs, and vastly different interests. And for neurodivergent families, challenges may arise in part (or wholly) due to different diagnoses or ADHD subtypes. In a recent ADDitude reader panel, we asked parents for insights into common summer hot spots and tips for managing them. Find their responses, below, and share your own vacation strategies and solutions in the Comments section.

Close up of teenage girl in bedroom using smart phone.
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Summer Hot Spot #1: Screen Time

“We struggle with completing the things we need to do in order to do the things we want to. If I let my children go for electronics first thing in the morning, I’ve lost them for the entire day. I find it’s best to allow for some free play in the mornings, but not electronics. After breakfast, we focus on necessary tasks and chores. Later in the day, they are able to play video games or watch TV.” — Abigail, Michigan

Two young girls sit on couch looking annoyed at each other.
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Summer Hot Spot #2: Sibling Squabbles

Sibling squabbles are a big hot button for us. I used to manage the disputes for them but have since changed my approach. I work with my kids on slowing down, belly breathing, and pausing for 90 seconds so that fight-or-flight chemicals can clear from the brain. I encourage each of them to share their perspectives, respect each other through silent listening, and identify what they understood about the other person’s experience. Then I allow them to come up with a solution collaboratively.” — Abigail, Michigan

 “Sibling squabbles are definitely due, in part, to ADHD. When my son is bored and needs attention, he immediately starts a fight with his sister. I manage this by trying to separate them and give them a break from each other, or by trying to redirect my son to something that he will think is fun and can focus his energy on.” — An ADDitude reader

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Summer Hot Spot #3: Medication Rebound

“Everyone is happy to do their own hyper-focused activity over the summer holiday — mostly. The trickiest part is when the medications have worn off and the excitable, energized hyperactivity bursts occur. We just have to find the fun and enjoy the silly moments.” — Natasha, Australia

“My child with ADHD requires some uninterrupted morning time until his medication kicks in. This typically takes 30 to 45 minutes. Our family schedule is so regimented that he wakes up before his siblings during the school year for this reason. Summer is tough because they are less consistent with wake-up times, which leads to irritation, blowups, and anger.” — Lauren, Texas

Red push pin on calendar 4th day of the month
Red push pin on calendar 4th day of the month
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Summer Hot Spot #4: Scheduling

“It’s better now that two of my children are old enough to be left alone. Their age differences mean they have different activities during different times. That can make scheduling difficult. However, it also allows a ‘divide and conquer’ method of parenting. Instead of dividing the parents into different roles, I divide the kids. While one is occupied with an activity, I can meet the needs of another, or give that child attention.” — Rachel, Rhode Island

“We don't do much during the summer because it’s too much for me. The idea of scrambling around every day is so stressful. We usually sleep in and tackle each day as it comes. There is a lot of screen time and playing in our giant yard with scooters, a trampoline, and a swing set. We take a lot of family trips… and we are a very last-minute, fly-by-the-seat-of-our-pants family. Being over-scheduled is just too stressful.” — Beth, Colorado

Two girls, one wearing tiara
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Summer Hot Spot #5: Boredom

“We have three kids: a 17-year-old extrovert with inattentive ADD, a 12-year-old introvert with AuDD, and an 8-year-old extrovert with ADHD. My husband works at least 60 hours a week, so he’s not available much. We try to schedule camps in a staggered way so that, when the kids start to get bored, there’s another summer camp to go to. This means three to four summer camps per child, per summer, which we’re privileged enough to afford. We also do a week at a beach cabin every year. There are also a lot of days where I try to figure out how I’m supposed to balance three kids at home.” — Emma, Oregon

Silver shiny clock hanging at the wall with copy space
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Summer Hot Spot #6: Novelty and Routine

“One child craves freshness while the other requires routine. Summer is the only time I can indulge the child needing novelty. The routine child flounders; I have to find routine within the novelty for her. One has little heat tolerance and the other loves the warm weather, so I try to go where they can cool off outside. Being in public at a pool seems to care for their sensory needs. Inviting different friends seems to help with novelty. Cooling off helps with heat intolerance. Going to a park where they have the splash zones helps the novel child. Going at the same time helps the routine child.” — Tamara, Idaho

Focus on child's hand playing with colorful wooden blocks in vintage color tone
Focus on child's hand playing with colorful wooden blocks in vintage color tone
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Summer Hot Spot #7: Childcare

“I have one child with complex ADHD and an 11-month-old baby. The problem is that my ADHD kid needs one-on-one support… and that's really difficult to do with a baby in tow. It will get harder in his toddler years; at least I can strap him in a carrier right now.” — Christine, Canada

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Summer Hot Spot #8: Independence

“Giving them too much freedom was our summer hot spot. We thought they were great kids who wouldn't get into trouble. We didn’t supervise closely enough. When my two sons had free time, they would often get into mischief that sometimes bordered on risky behavior.” — Tim, Canada