10 Tips for Surviving a Weekend Away With An ADHD Teenager

So it wasn’t officially a holiday as such.

It was more of a mini break, if that constitutes 24 hours away from home with an ADHD teenager and the release of some pent up working mother’s guilt.

10 Tips For Surviving a Weekend Away With An ADHD Teenager

It was a final desperate attempt to find some quality time with my son amid a busy time work-wise that unfortunately always seems to coincide slap bang in the middle of the school holidays. There are only so many bribes you can invent and get away with when parenting, if you want to sleep at night. Anyway, our local shop had run out of Coco Pops and guilt-cash seemed to be walking out of my purse on a daily basis.

I eventually realised that the only way I could pull myself away from the computer and clients that were becoming more needy than my own kids, was to leave the office house completely.

Of course I had realised before our 24 hours together that the world according to Kurt was a very different place to the one the rest of us inhabit. But what I hadn’t fully appreciated before was just how astute and funny my son can be, when he is extricated from the everyday pressures and strains of living in the real world, my nagging and commonplace expectations that he finds so hard to fulfil.

You see, like a lot of parents, when I’m at home and bogged down by the day job, the housework, and failing to achieve some work/life balance, sometimes I overlook the enjoyment of relaxing and having a belly laugh with my kids.

Because Kurt has a very different view and appreciation of the world and the simplicity of the language he uses to describe his relationship with it and how it dovetails with his emotions can be highly entertaining at times.

I am ashamed to admit that I had forgotten that.

For example, when the most expensive exclusive restaurant in a cheap hotel served perhaps THE most delicious warm bread I’ve EVER eaten and Kurt commented, ‘I ain’t eating no bread with shit in the middle – that’s just wrong.’

10 Tips for Surviving a Weekend Away With An ADHD Teenager
Bread with shit in it.

Or when my amazing starter arrived and the oysters were presented on large ocean salt granules and Kurt whooped rather too loudly in front of the waitress:

‘Mum, you got Chrystal Meth with your oysters!’


And upon finishing what was apparently the best steak he’d ever eaten, he said solemnly,’ That steak gave me an erection.’

And then there were those typically ADHD observations…

Like when I left my phone charger at home and typically Kurt became obsessed with telling me exactly how much battery I had left, EVERY MINUTE, until I am certain my hair actually started turning grey in front of him. But when I asked him at dinner how much battery I had left, he informed me that I had 50% charge remaining and when I asked him again, half an hour later, he said 52%, I was obviously puzzled and said, ‘but you said 50% half an hour ago.’ ‘

For Fucks Sake, Mum, I thought I’d finally try out that whole weird ‘rounding up thing’ you’ve been going on about in maths for years, and you still complain.’

I re-learned a lot about my son during that 24 hours, but here are some tips every parent going away with an ADHD teenager (or in fact any teenager) might want to consider:

  • Make a firm plan and above all stick to it. ADHD kids like to know what’s happening and ‘change’ is anathema to their mood. Some might question my judgment of doing a u-turn in the middle of a highway when I missed the promised Maccas on our route, but the one after was not part of the plan.
  • Let them play their music in the car no matter how awful it is – Jack White (I must stop calling him Jack Black because it makes Kurt really angry) and Nirvana aren’t exactly my cup of tea but I’m getting pretty good at drumming to Seven Nation Army on the steering wheel and Kurt is now very adept at playing guitar in the front seat. I am obviously Meg White – he is Jack.
  • Break up the journey with food promises/bribes.
  • Do not entrust an ADHD teenager with the room key-cards if you don’t want an awkward conversation at reception within the first hour of your stay.
  • Let them explore. Your ADHD teenager will need to check out everything in the hotel room, like the sharpest sleuth. Check they don’t put anything valuable in the safe ( I still miss that mascara) while they test it out, bring other soap and shampoo options with you because the hotel freebies will be emptied and assessed immediately and make sure you hide what sachets of tea and coffee you need for your stay before they secrete them into their baggage. Allow them wear the shower cap around the hotel if they want to – fight the wars, not the battles.
  • Don’t be surprised when they don’t assess situations like us. If you ask an ADHD kid to fetch you something from the room, he may consider that the quickest way will make you the happiest. I honestly don’t know why I was surprised when my sun cream came hurtling down eight levels from the balcony, although luckily it did go straight into the pool.
  • ADHD kids cannot wait for their food in restaurant which is why Maccas is often a safer option for your mental well-being.
10 Tips For Surviving a Weekend Away With An ADHD Teenager
ADHD kids can’t wait for food.
  • Diet, sleep and exercise are the three main requisites for a good trip with an ADHD teenager. Wear them out before bedtime, especially when you are sharing a room. Medication helps too.
  • Don’t feel guilty about bringing whatever electronic devices will help you entertain them in a hotel room which to them can seem like a prison cell and to you a torture chamber. No food on tap, no space to roam and none of their favourite programmes on the television will drive you both nuts.
  • Explain to them the full cost implications of the mini bar before you lose the plot.

6 thoughts on “10 Tips for Surviving a Weekend Away With An ADHD Teenager

  1. As a mother of two teenage boys (many years ago now), with whom I travelled quite often I have one piece of advice for all – always shop at a supermarket prior to checking into a hotel with that enticing device – “The Mini Bar”! I proudly carry my plastic bag of goodies into the room and take everything out of the fridge and pantry area and store them in another bag in my locked hand baggage. Then I fill the fridge up with drinks, chocolates, pre-made sandwiches etc. I also bring crisps, nuts, biscuits and fruit. (OK, it’s a holiday, let them eat rubbish, who cares?) When we leave I put everything back and I don’t have a minor heart attack paying the bill. When travelling overseas we always had a family expedition to the nearest supermarket or 7-Eleven to buy goodies, which is still a heck of a lot cheaper than the mini-bar. The kids had fun picking out strange and exotic munchies (some good choices, some positively yukky) and then helping me take everything out of the mini-bar and putting in what they had chosen. I’m so horrified by mini-bar prices these days that even though I now travel alone, I still do this just for myself! (Okay, so I’m just cheap – I can live with it!)


    1. I wish I had your foresight and organisation. It’s not ‘cheap’ – it’s teaching your kids the concept of saving money where you can. Great idea! I admit that we might have stopped off at the local convenience store to stock up on some in between meals crap. Doesn’t everyone?


  2. Ahhhhh yes!!! I this blog could have been completely about my son. My ADHDer is obsessed with electronics. I thought it would have gotten better with him turning 14 sadly no. The phone thing is what I deal with all the time. My phone, his phone. He has to mess with it and it grades on my nerves, its the OCD portion of the ADHD. Why can’t they be obsessed with a clean room lol!!!


      1. My son is OBESSED with taking apart his electronics. He now wants to be a software engineer. Its amazing for hours he can focus on computer programing! Thank god he’s not going to be a historian or a Litature teacher he would be in big trouble lol Oh and we are trying this marking period with no meds and so far so good! He asked if he can try on his own now that he’s 14. It also seems that he is excelling in basketball to. I don’t know if he’s now used to his tall lanky body or that he has more energy to burn.


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