Taking time off when you have ADHD:
Honestly, Swear to the heavens above, no lie, I dislike weekends and holidays. Don’t get me wrong – I love time off. It is imperative for me to have time off just to stay sane. But a whole day off or, shudder, MORE than a day off, makes me itchy. Taking time off when you have ADHD can increase frustration and burn out! Here’s why:
1. We can get lonely
When everyone has time off at the same time, it’s lonely. I like variety. I’d rather spend a day eating breakfast with one friend, lunch with another, and dinner with another. And in between I’ll work (usually with someone else or with Facebook open so I’m not alone!) But see, on weekends and holidays, EVERYONE’S off so people are with their families or they’re out of town. And I get lonely.
I’m not ashamed to say it. One way the I manage my ADHD is to have my “posse” around so that I can check in for some quick laughs or encouragement.
When we lived in California, we had a huge group of friends and there was ALWAYS a group having a party, going to the movies, going hiking or going out to brunch. We did stuff every single weekend. In groups of 4 or groups of 40. THOSE weekends were fun. Here in Seattle our life is more mellow. Like sleepy-mellow. And I get lonely.
Your child is more likely to sit around playing video games or complaining about something when life isn’t interesting, when their brains aren’t engaged. When I was a teacher, students would say, “Let’s have a day off from doing schoolwork.” Whenever I gave it to them, they sat around and said they were bored. ADHD kids don’t always know how to entertain themselves so they veg out when there’s down time. Their brains get lonely for stimulation!
2. Working straight through is exhausting
We Americans (and probably Canadians) have this idea that work and play should be separated, so we work our tushies off so that we can, supposedly, enjoy a free weekend with no responsibilities. In my opinion, that’s a problem. When we separate life into THE GOOD STUFF and THE BAD STUFF it just makes the bad stuff so much worse. We train our brains to look at “Not Vacation” as the same as Stress. “Not the Weekend” = the grindstone.
And what about this? “Not school” = fun. Is that really helpful? No wonder so many kids say that their favorite school subject is “recess.” It’s the only “not school” part of the school day!
I want every day to be fun. I want to enjoy my life not live for the times when I’m not doing the thing I spend most of my time doing. Isn’t that weird??
ADHD kids are more likely to think in terms of Good and Bad because they are more literal in the way they receive information. At least having a day with both Good and Bad (or Good and Not As Good) mixes up the notion that things have to be separated into categories. Being able to have two opinions or two feelings at the same time is high level thinking! Go Executive Functions!
3. Holidays and days off are extended distractions.
For me, days off mean that I have to take my attention away from one thing and focus it on another, knowing full well that I’ll have to reverse the process at the end of the weekend or the holiday or the vacation.
You know how people say they have to take a vacation after their vacation? Why?
That means I have to waste a bunch of time trying to get back on track! I don’t want to waste my time. And tell me that you don’t have problems transitioning your kids from Sunday to Monday? Anyone? Transitions are hard enough when emotions are involved, why add to it by upholding relatively artificial divisions between fun and school, or fun and drudgery?
Holidays & days off are extended distractions and, for a person w/ ADHD, that means I have to exert much more effort than if I just have fun every day!
So when someone asks, “Don’t you need a day off?” I reply, “No, I need an extra day so I can put more fun into each work day
Copyright 2017 Yafa Luria/Margit Crane All Rights Reserved
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