What do you do when you have executive function difficulties and are vacation planning? We recently just returned from a 2 week road trip that we had dreamed about for a long time. Our kids have a weekly, part time job distributing flyers. They saved the majority of their flyer money and we voted on how to use it. We chose to drive down the Oregon Coast. As Canadian Prairie raised kids who have never seen the ocean, my kids were pretty excited! We saved, planned, researched, organized and off we went! Now as for planning, for a mom who has certain executive function difficulties and with an ADHD kid, we did somethings right and some things we learned along the way!
Planning for me was a bit of a challenge. There were times I felt overwhelmed and was concerned I could not pull this off. Afraid this would land in the pile of “dreams I’ve had but couldn’t complete”. There are so many decisions to make and details to sort out it was easy to get lost, overwhelmed and want to stop. Working from a budget and sorting out the best use of our money also made for some difficult decisions. Now my husband is great at helping out but I needed to have some facts to give him so we could make decisions.
By taking baby steps it made it easier for me to vacation plan with executive function difficulties. I began FAR in advance to take the pressure off, like a year! I began looking at destinations we knew we wanted to see. Saving websites allowed me to revisit them without trying to remember where I saw what things. Don’t save all the websites though! Just the important ones! Or make files on your computer for places to visit, places to stay etc. I used a combination of saving websites and writing in a book so I could remember.
Thinking about accommodations was completely overwhelming to me! I knew they would be the next important thing to make decisions about though. How did I know this? Well, lets just say that in planning camping adventures I have learned if you don’t book early, you don’t end up where you want to go! I had a dollar store book that I had purchased with this trip in mind but kept neglecting to write in so I pulled it out and began writing names of places to stay and prices. I then could show this to my husband for us to make decisions.
Now, another thing I have found over the years that causes me to put off getting things done is making phone calls. There are times I can pick up the phone and do what needs to be done and there are other times I will leave the phone call for so long it no longer matters! Some of these accommodations needed to be phoned to have some questions answered. Knowing my past history I asked my husband for help! He made the calls and asked the questions taking much stress off of me!
When the brain thinks its done!
With accommodations booked and a basic idea of things we wanted to see (written in my notebook!) I was able to breathe easy for awhile. With those major steps off my plate, I had the false sense that everything was done and ready to go. I did know I needed to pack so I made a list on my phone (where I couldn’t loose it!) and made sure to write things on the list as I thought of them. There were however a few things I did not think of partly because my brain did the things that were hard for me and therefore thought it had done enough!
Things I needed help with…
- I did not think of travelers insurance. A week before leaving my mom asked about our insurance…oops! My dear husband got that set up!
- A friend reminded me that cell phone providers charge high roaming fees in a different country! We had to get our cell phones setup of U.S. calling. My dear husband got that set up!
- Money… I knew I needed to figure out the best way for U.S. purchases without crazy bank fees. Guys…. I DO NOT like going in the bank. No idea why, I just don’t. So, that was left a little to long but I did manage to get my kids and our spending cash. Yes, my husband called to find out best way to pay for things while we were there.
As you can see, I recognized my stumbling blocks that I know about myself and looked for outside support to work through them. Executive function difficulties and vacation planning can be successful. It is OK to ask for help!
Things I have learned…
- I need to start planning early to relieve stress.
- Break tasks down as small as possible.
- Focus on one task at a time to avoid overwhelm.
- Write EVERYTHING down (or keep a folder on your phone) for reference.
- Write it all down in one place!
- Leave room/time for the unexpected.
- Don’t leave things for the last minute.
- I have an amazing husband!
From My Family to Yours,
Family ADHD Coach Laureen