Why car trips can suck, when you have a kid with ADHD

So I am not afraid to admit that I seriously stuffed my shoulder swinging my arm behind myself whilst trying to stop my kids from killing each other whilst I was driving. The near misses for car accidents have been many.  My threshold is reached regularly whilst in the car with my 3 boys.  I know you hear me.  Car trips are no fun. I have 4 wild animals who do not do well in confined spaces (ADHD husband is included here). 

So in the interest of being safe and alive, I have created some suggestions to improve car trips when you have some ADHD in your life. 

1. Get some space

One of the biggest improvements we have noticed was when we changed cars to a 7 seater and we have the option of seating one child in the back row.  But if this is not an option for you, you may wish to review who sits where, put the days troublemaker on the window seat or as far away as you can from the child they are aggravating the most.

 2. iPad's Anyone?

I am not usually a fan of too much screen time for my kids because they hyperfocus and they have terrible meltdowns when they need to come off.  But for long car trips and if it means we are all going to get to our destination safely - then whatever works - no limits apply.  Safety is more important. 

3. Keep the necessities stocked in the car

These are the things I keep permanently in the car:

  • Baby wipes (so many dirty faces and hands)
  • vomit bag (learnt this one the hard way)
  • hair brush (brush hair on the way to kindy or school)
  • a change of clothes for each child (see vomit bag…), include a full outfit, jumper, socks, undies and shoes (I buy a cheap set from Kmart to keep in the car, it has saved us so many times when life happens).
  • Reusable shopping bags
  • Toilet paper
  • Bottle of water
  • Paper and pencils
  • First Aid kit

4. Car clean out

I have the habit of every time we get out of the car at home, we have to get everything out (other than what is on the list above).  I pull up in the driveway and we chuck everything out onto the grass and everyone has to help bring it up and put it away inside the house.  A clear car stops things being used as weapons later and stops all the searching in the morning i.e. "where are my shoes?". 

5. Be visual and have stop spots

It is pretty unrealistic to expect your child with ADHD to sit still for long periods.  So if you are doing a big drive or have lots of stops to make for errand etc.  Draw it up for them.  Get your paper and pencils out and show them. I draw a big circle and show arrows with the stops we need to make before we return home.  Be sure to include a park somewhere. It takes 2 mins to explain, they then hold onto the piece of paper and check it off as we go to all the stops.  They feel comfortable knowing what is coming next.  This works so well for the anxious ADHD brain as they can see that home (safety) is coming up.

I hope this helps and safe travels.


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