Friday, October 2, 2015

Top Tips For Travelling With A Child With ADHD

This week's article comes to us courtesy of Sally Jacks:

Travelling with a child who has ADHD (Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder) can be very stressful  and is unlikely to be something that you can do spontaneously. Children with ADHD tend to be driven by routine and like to know exactly what to expect whenever they enter any new situation. However with plenty of preparation and planning, it is possible to have a fun vacation that the whole family can enjoy. Here are a few top tips for travelling with a child with ADHD:

Find Routine Where You Can
Children with ADHD tend to be creatures of habit who are more comfortable within the confines of a regular and familiar routine.  Whilst it would be impossible to transfer all of their home routines to their vacation destination, establishing new routines and sticking to them during your stay will give your child some familiar navigation points, making the adjustment to vacation time much easier.  This routine can be anything that works for you and your family, from eating the same breakfast in the same cafĂ© each morning, to reading the same bedtime story from home each evening. If you know that your child has times of the day when their behaviour can be particularly difficult then these are the ideal times in which to aim to establish a new and familiar routine which may help to settle them.

Involve Your Child in the Vacation Planning
When entering a new situation, such as going on vacation, most children will benefit from knowing what is going to happen and what to expect, and this is particularly true for children who have ADHD.  Mark the date that you are going on your vacation in your child’s calendar, and then help them count down to the date each day: this will help them to begin mentally for preparing for the changes that vacations bring. When sharing your daily countdown, you should also share other vital details about your trip such as where your child will be sleeping and what daily activities they will be participating in: the more information you can share with your child, the easier the transition to a new vacation routine and schedule will be for them.

Schedule Some down Time into Your Vacation
Vacations are both exciting and expensive: the culmination of these two factors means that our instinct is to cram as much as we possibly can into every moment of our vacation time. However for a child who has ADHD, this constant stream of stimulation and excitement can simply become too overwhelming.  If you’re taking a vacation with a child who has ADHD then, it is important that you allow plenty of time in your day for your child to relax and enjoy some down time in a safe space away from the constant vacation stimulation. Bring along some of their favourite downtime activities from home: they will find comfort in their familiarity, and ensure that there is a nice comfortable space where they are free to relax. Drawing pads, reading books, or even some quiet screen time can all be beneficial.

A Great Time For Etiquette Reminders
ADHD children generally have poor social skills, and aren’t very good at picking up on cues for how they are expected to behave. Travelling and spending time on vacation is the perfect time to reinforce these etiquette messages and help your child to learn how and when they should be picking up on certain social signals. If you are visiting with friends or family, for example, then this is the ideal situation to remind them of when they need to say hello/goodbye, please/thank you, and the importance of having good manners and being aware of the feelings and needs of others. There are many benefits of travel for children with ADHD, and with the right planning and preparation, it can be a really wonderful experience for the whole family!

Extra Information
“ADHD (Attention Deficit/Hyperactive Disorder)”, Psych Guides
“7 tips for travelling with an ADHD/ADD child”, Everyday Health,
“What are some signs and symptoms of ADHD?” American Speech Language Hearing Association
“Travelling with ADHD: More than packing a suitcase”, Dana Rayburn: ADHD Coach and Author

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Sites We Love: Safe Kids Worldwide!

In light of the increasing incidences of car seat recalls, it is becoming more and more important to register your car seat so that you can be contacted in the event of a recall.  Safe Kids Worldwide has everything you need to locate lists of recalls, help register your car seat and research other valuable car seat safety topics!

Friday, September 11, 2015

Tactics for Discussing Childproofing with Grandparents!

image courtesy of imagerymajestic/
Sadly,  often times, new parents are uneasy bringing their children to stay at grandparents' homes because the space lacks childproofing measures and may present numerous potential hazards.  So how do you tell your parents (or in-laws) that you hesitate to visit because you fear for your child(ren)'s safety?  Delicately, but firmly.

As kids, we all cringed when our parents delivered the "there comes a time..." talk to us.  No matter the topic (money, driving, sex, friends, etc.) it all came down to one simple lesson: accept personal responsibility for keeping yourself and those around you safe.  As parents, they had the benefit of the most up-to-date information on how to prevent the tragedies that could happen, so it truly was in our best interest to heed their advice (even if only grudgingly).

The same principle will apply when you have "The Talk" with your own parents (and in-laws) as a parent yourself.  In years past, young parents relied upon their own parents' experience almost exclusively to determine their parenting practices; however, the dawn of the information age has expanded the available knowledge base for new parents and has helped raise awareness of methods for keeping infants and young children safe (not to mention the medical and technological advances that have been made over the last 30 years!).

Heartbreaking statistics show that accidents remain the leading cause of serious and fatal injury to young children; changing everything from the way we select car seats to how we childproof our homes.  Sharing this information, along with your concerns for maximizing the enjoyment of visits by minimizing the stressors, can help ease the discussion's tension.  Below are two common scenarios you may encounter and suggestions for diplomatic responses.

  • The "we raised you without all that stuff and you lived" mentality.  It's true, anyone reading this survived childhood, perhaps with just a few bumps and bruises, or perhaps with more serious injury; but why gamble with any child's safety? 
  • Assure your parents that you are not attacking their parenting style or ability; share with them that by taking a few simple steps to childproof their home they would have more fun with their grandchildren because they would spend less time saying "no" and more time enjoying the visit.  Also (but only if its true!) let them know that childproofing would increase your comfort level during visits and may result in more frequent visits!
  • For resistant parents, offer to bring your own childproofing supplies and take them with you when you go; it may be cumbersome, but it's worth it if it helps smooth familial tension. 
  • If they are truly resistant, suggest visiting at a park or in your own home instead; not ideal, but you have to stand up for your child(ren)'s safety - you would never be able to forgive yourself if your child(ren) suffered injury or death because you acquiesced to save someone hurt feelings.
  • Your parents or in-laws don't understand, don't have space for, or cannot afford "all those fancy gizmos."
  • As mentioned above, you can transport and install your own safety items each time; or, consider offering to buy a childproofing kit, like the compact one developed by Travel-Tot, featuring an assortment of outlet covers, corner guards, pinch guards, and cabinet/door securing devices to be stored at grandma and grandpa's house for visits (minimizing what you need to carry along)! One of the nicest features of Travel-Tot's Travel Childproofing Kit is that the adhesive is temporary, so it goes on strong, but comes off clean without damage to finishes or furniture!
When you confront your parents or in-laws, firmly, but politely make it clear that while you do want to be able to share the joy of their grandchildren with them, your child(ren)'s safety is your priority.  Precious few bonds are as important as those between children and grandparents; and those bonds will only be strengthened by having open and honest lines of communication about important issues like safety.

Safe and happy travels.
-Destination Mom

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Fall: The Perfect Season for Family Fun!

Fall is one of the best seasons to have fun as a family: not only because of the beautiful scenery in areas where the leaves are changing, but because of the myriad of fun, inexpensive, old-fashioned, family activities that abound! Add to that how beneficial it can be to take a little escape from the stresses of a new school year and you have the perfect recipe for fall family fun!

1. The Fall "Staycation"

This kind of get-away doesn't need to be complicated or expensive. With fall colors at their peak, a scenic drive, hike, camping trip or visit to a farm can be a real treat! Consider checking your local area for seasonal carnivals or festivals which generally have something fun for everyone!

2. Festive Decorations

image courtesy of Aduldej/
No time for a get-away? A day of crafty activities to decorate your home for the season can be tons of fun (some great craft ideas can be found at the All Kids Network)!  Visit local farms (or other retailers) and grab some hay bails, pumpkins, apples, gourds, and flowers. Collect leaves for various crafts, make a scarecrow as a family, paint or carve some pumpkins, create stamps, bake something delicious! Serve seasonal snacks; drink cider, snack on pumpkin seeds, and enjoy the crisp fall air. Let the kids get messy and run around; it's a great chance to let them flex their creative muscles and burn off some energy!

3. Dining Al Fresco

Another great day activity can be a local fall food tour!  Check out local farm stands, wineries, and festivals to savor some great fall favorites: festive cupcakes, apple pie, pumpkin pie, cider donuts, pumpkin ravioli, apple cider, pumpkin seeds, jams, etc..  Consider bringing home some fresh produce to try a new recipe!

A little planning can help ensure everyone enjoys themselves no matter how you choose to spend time together! Have older children make a list of places they'd like to visit and activities they'd like to try. Stay flexible, but try to have a plan in place to keep the fun going!  Most of all relax and enjoy your time together making memories.

Safe and happy fall fun!
-Destination Mom

Friday, September 4, 2015

September: Child Safety Month!

Until you have an infant or toddler, it is hard to understand how many facets there are to keeping your littlest family members safe; car seats, childproofing (at home and on the go!), infant/child CPR classes, baby monitors, identification tags, cribs, toys, strollers - and the list goes on and on!

image courtesy of Stuart Miles/
However, one of the most basic things you can do to keep your children safe is to create a comprehensive listing of all medical and emergency contact  information.  Print multiple copies so that you can post one on your refrigerator at home, pack one in your wallet for whenever you go out, and provide a copy to each of your children's caregivers (i.e. pre-school, after care, relatives, etc.).  Be sure to include:

Emergency Numbers:
  • Parent's cell phone numbers;
  • Parent's work phone numbers;
  • 911;
  • Non-emergency Police Department phone number;
  • Poison control phone number;
  • Fire department phone number;
  • Child's doctor's practice, name, and phone number;
  • Off-hours doctor's phone number;
  • Child's chart number;
  • Child's dentist's practice, name, and phone number;
  • Address, phone number, and directions to preferred hospital;
  • Emergency contact information for two people other than parents, including:
    • Name;
    • Phone number(s);
    • Relation.
Emergency Information:
  • Home address;
  • Mom's full name;
  • Dad's full name;
  • Child's full name;
  • Child's date of birth;
  • Any allergies, medications, or special conditions;
  • Insurance provider;
  • Insurance provider phone;
  • Insured name and ID;
  • Group ID;
  • Policy ID.
Travel-Tot is pleased to provide an easy-to-use Emergency Information Form here for our readers!  Having such information available all in one place in an easy-to-distribute format could be the difference between life and death, particularly when your child is under the care of someone who may not have all that information committed to memory!

Safe and happy September!
-Destination Mom

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Before You Leave the Country...

image courtesy of Arvind Balaraman/
Traveling out of the country with children can be a fantastic adventure!  But losing a passport or birth certificate can create utter havoc... so plan ahead.  In addition to packing all your important ID documents (i.e. passports, photo IDs, birth certificates, documents authorizing you to travel with your child outside the country if there are custodial issues), make a copy of each form along with your itinerary and leave them behind with a close family member or friend who can be reached in case of emergency. It may be the difference between a dream vacation and a real nightmare.  Safe and happy travels!

Friday, August 28, 2015

Back to School: Keeping Safety Top of Mind!

With kids heading back to school within the next few weeks, it seemed like a great time to share a few important safety tips!  Many of the helpful hints below are well known by most children, but with the excitement and confusion of returing to school it can be easy for kids to forget, or to be more inclined to inadvertantly put themselves into situations that could be dangerous.  Offering  these simple reminders may help keep safety fresh in their minds as they head off!

image courtesy of anankkml/
 Getting To and From School:
  • For younger students, parents should always provide supervision to help ensure their safe arrival to and from school.  It is not safe for young children to walk to and from school, even in groups. If your children wait for a bus, wait with them or make arrangements for other trusted adults to provide supervision at the bus stop.
  • For older students, if they take the bus, be certain they know which bus is theirs and remind them to stay with a group while standing at the bus stop.  If they walk or ride a bike to school, remind them to always take a friend with them when walking or biking.  Walk the route to and from school with your children before the start of the year and point out safe places to go if they’re being followed or need help. Teach them never to take short-cuts; to avoid parks, vacant lots, and fields; and to always stay in well-lit areas.
  • All children taking the bus should be taught and reminded to: stay seated at all times, keep their heads and arms inside the bus, and keep their seatbelts fastened during the trip. When exiting the bus, they should wait until the bus comes to a complete stop, exit from the front using the handrail to avoid falls, and cross the street far enough in front of the bus that they can make eye contact with the driver.
  • Students who ride a bicycle or scooter to school should wear an approved safety helmet and should be taught to obey all traffic signals, signs, and traffic officers. Remind them to be extra careful in bad weather.
Stranger Danger:
  • Let your children know that if anyone harasses them or makes them feel scared or uncomfortable that they should trust their feelings and immediately get away from that person and tell a trusted adult. Impress upon them that it is ok to be rude to people who make them uncomfortable and that it is ok to say "no."
  • Teach your children if anyone tries to take them somewhere they should resist by hitting, kicking, and screaming.  Advise them to try to run away and call as much attention to themselves as possible by kicking and screaming “Fire!" or “You are not my father/mother!”
  • Remind your children never to accept a ride, money, candy, or gift from a stanger. Let them know that if anyone follows them in a vehicle they should turn around, put as much distance between themselves and that vehicle as possible, and run to a trusted adult (or the home of a trusted adult) and ask for help.
  • Be sure your children know that grownups should never approach a child to ask for directions, they should ask other adults.  Reassure them that it is ok to ignore a stranger trying to get them to approach a vehicle by attempting to solicit their help. 
Lines of Communication:
  • Be sure the school has current and accurate emergency contact information on file for your children and confirm names of those authorized.
  • Always know where your children will be. Teach your children to always check with you before changing their plans before or after school. Teach your children to never leave school, with anyone unless they ok it with you or another trusted adult, even if someone tells them it is an emergency.
  • Be sure your children know their home phone number and address, your cell number, the number of another trusted adult, and how to call 911 for emergencies.
Safe and happy Back-to-School!
-Destination Mom