Spring Break Bliss: A Guide for ADHD Parents and Professionals

Kristen Souva, LMSW

Girls Program Director

Spring for educators, students, and parents often is associated with Spring Break excitement! For many, Spring Break is the first extended time off since the December holidays. Whether Spring Break means spending time at the beach or staying local, it often includes a change in routines for families. Both adults and kids with ADHD often have a love/hate relationship with routines. People with ADHD crave the structure routines provide but sometimes want a break from them too. 


Vacations can be a break from the day to day grind for kids and adults alike. But should we completely scrap structure? The truth is most people regardless of diagnosis can benefit from some form of structure but the level of rigidity can differ. As discussed in this podcast, it can be helpful to categorize structure into different levels. Planning your families Spring Break with this framework can be especially helpful and easily customized for each family’s needs. 


So how can you have the best Spring break experience with your son or daughter with ADHD?

Below are some tips and tricks to help make Spring Break a success for kids and teens with ADHD. 


  • Find the right balance of structure:
    • As we discussed above, everyone has different preferred levels of structure. Spring Break can be a great time experiment with what level of structure works best for each member of the family. 
      • Low Structure: Make a list of potential activities for the week. Use this as a reference to inspire you each day of break
      • Medium Structure: Add more specifics to your list of potential activities. This might look like categorizing which activities are “must do” and which are “if we have extra time”. Let kids be part of this process and see if they want to make other lists; at home activities, outings, social activities, etc
      • High Structure: As the name implies, this is the highest level of scaffolding. Rather than just a list, make a day to day schedule with your family. Monday; biking in the morning and pickleball in the afternoon. Tuesday; crafts in the morning, lunch outing with grandparents, movie night. 
  • Make time for movement:
    • Long car rides or plane trips can be extra tough for kids with ADHD. Plan for pit stops and take a moment to toss a football, skip down an airport corridor, or dance it out in between more low energy activities.


  • Decrease in the moment decision making:
    • If possible before Spring Break, as a family talk about options for the week and discuss what everyones “must do” activities are. This can help to take some of the in the moment decision making out.
    • Play the Meal Game: We’ve all been there when the family is hungry but no one wants to make a decision on where to eat. Have each person say two genres of restaurants they might want to eat at. For example, Italian and Korean. Next, go in a circle and have each person vote off one of the genres at a time. For example, Brian might not be in the mood for Mexican food that night so will vote it off. Go around until only 1-2 genres remain. Then, work together to think about and research if needed what restaurants in the area fit into those categories. Have a conversation and vote on which one to go to. This method has been used by Sequoia Girls staff frequently and helps everyone to feel included and invested in the process. 
  • Set Clear Expectations: 
    • Run through plans with your child and set expectations for activities as needed. 
    • Ask what questions he/she may have about Spring Break. For kids with sensory needs, they might want to know where and when they can take breaks away from the group for example. 
  • Trip Essentials: Before heading out on a trip or outing make sure kids pack preferred fidgets, stuffed animals, blankets, and travel activities. For some kids a notebook and a classic car license plate is all they need. While others benefit from a backpack dedicated to travel games, an mp3 player, and plenty of books. 
  • Help with staying Organized: Parents of ADHD kids know that lost hoodies and belongings are par for the course on a regular school day let alone a vacation. If this sounds familiar, help your child make a plan to stay organized.
  • Embrace their Passions/Interests: Spring Break is a great time to indulge in your child’s interests. Whether it’s space exploration, building with LEGOs, or Taylor Swift’s discography take some time learning more about their passions.
  • Be Flexible: The family planned to attend a show on the cruise but it’s too loud for your daughter or the museum left your son needing a little extra movement. A trip with ADHD kids or adults often doesn’t go exactly to plan but with some extra flexibility and patience can be filled with spontaneity and fun!
  • Consistency where you can: Vacation is meant to be a bit different from the same old, same old but some consistency can go a long way. Where possible, try to keep sleep schedules and mealtimes relatively the same. If your travels include a time change keep this in mind too.
  • Screen time: Have a conversation about screen time expectations before Spring Break. Maybe time in the car will allow for more time on their phone or tablet but during the trip they will have more limited times for screen time.
  • Build in simple routines: This might look like going for a walk after dinner every night. It’s a great way for kids to know what to expect and to throw in a little extra movement too. Plus, if you anticipate meals to be a loud or energy draining activity for your kids a quiet walk can help to reset before moving on to the evenings activities. 
  • Plan for a transition back home: Not to be the bearer of bad news, but Spring Break will have to come to an end eventually. The transition back into typical routines can be tough for our ADHD kids who struggle with executive functioning skills. Coming home on Saturday or planning for a full Sunday reset day can be very helpful. Frame it as a way to have time to enjoy a great meal at home, unpack bags, and relax before kicking off the week. Take a page out of the Sequoia Girls playbook, and plan a relaxing Sunday at home spa day. Make it a relaxing but fun experience for the whole family. We know the transition back home can also be tough for parents with ADHD. This Additude article has some recommendations to make the transition easier for adults too.


Time off from school can be a bit daunting for families with ADHD kids but with some planning and collaboration, vacations like Spring Break can be a great opportunity for fun and growth. We hope this guide helps your family or a family you work with to have a successful Spring Break! And remember that summer adventures, like an amazing Camp Sequoia summer with fun, friends and social growth is just around the corner.