Guest post alert! A creative NowWhat Mom agreed to share her experience and perspective on how she and her son overhauled their bedtime routine to accommodate ADHD.
If you’re anything like me, you won’t be surprised to hear that our bedtime routine is one of the more difficult times of our day. My son has never really done well with bedtime, but it wasn’t until our “Now What? Moment” 4 years ago that it all started to make sense. My son’s teachers suspected that he might have ADHD, but it wouldn’t be for another two years that my son would be formally diagnosed. My now-8-year-old and I are on a continual journey of discovery and reframing what our “normal” looks like at our house.
For the most part, we refer to my son’s ADHD as a superpower, but one area in particular that is a chronic struggle for us is … bed time! My grade schooler can easily stay up longer than me, but the emergence of anxiety has resulted in him not only staying up until I’m ready to go to sleep, but also crawling into bed with me before he finally passes out. This was leaving me with zero time for myself – and self-care was feeling like a distant and mythical concept.
Now, we have a pretty awesome evening routine that has been built piece by piece over the last year, and developed through plenty of trial and error. We implemented what we call Energy-Out Hour – which is exactly what it sounds like! One hour before our calm-down routine, we dedicate 60 minutes or so to getting all of the wiggles out of our systems. To be completely honest, at this point in the day, I have very few wiggles left – so it’s mostly Mr 8 that’s doing the moving while I get twenty minutes to myself to wind down at the end of my day. We have found this to be a really effective way for both us to prepare for a calmer bedtime. My son is able to get out whatever remaining energy he has, and I am able to find my own time to breathe.
In case any of this sounds like something you’d like to try at your house, I am happily passing on all of the toys and activities that have worked for us in the hopes that you will find something on this list that works for you too!
Turn down the lights, turn up the music!
We received this cool star/galaxy light as a thoughtful gift – it actually has a music sensor in it, which causes it to change colours in time to the beat of the music we are playing. My son will either jump on his trampoline or dance around while the lights do their thing!
Working it out!
We were able to find a really awesome hot wheels themed workout set on sale that came with a yoga mat, resistance band, ankle weights, jump rope and blow up punching bag. My son is really into working out and all things that resemble a gym so this purchase was perfect for him. However, you are able to buy all of these individually if you don’t want the full kit! We purchased the 2 lbs weights separately because my son desperately wanted his own weights.
Rock Climbing Corner
This is the one I am most proud of because it was an impulsive purchase followed by spontaneous execution, as I didn’t actually consider any of the logistics behind it before diving in with enthusiasm – but thankfully, it all worked out! I was actually able to build a mini indoor rock wall – keep in mind I was going for functionality rather than looks here. I couldn’t find an affordable option for what I was looking for. The cost of a ready-made rock wall along with shipping just wasn’t an expense that I was able to justify, so – I decided to make my own! I purchased one 8 ft by 4 ft plywood board and two boxes of rock climbing holds with the hardware (although FYI, I would have been fine with just the one box) and went to work. By making this myself, it cut the price in half. What makes this wall fun is that instead of going straight up, you have to maneuver across the wall. I was worried this would be too easy for him, but it was actually pretty challenging, which I was happy about.
… ANYTHING related to jumping
Jump rope, bouncy ball, trampoline, pogo stick … you name it. If he can jump on, off, or onto it, it’s a winner!
We found this hands free pogo board on Amazon. This was great because it took him a while to learn how to use it so we were able to practice our stress tolerance skills and now he hops around no problem! We find ourselves having races up and down the hallway – him on the bouncy ball and myself on the pogo board.
Obstacle Courses / Ninja Warrior
My son loves all things ninja and adores competitions. I looked on amazon for Ninja Warrior sets to make our own obstacle course, but then in the spur of the moment play session I realized that you can use anything for an obstacle course (and thank goodness because I didn’t need another prime delivery coming to the house!). We throw down pillows, set up chairs, move end tables and create our own obstacle courses. I’ll be the announcer as if he is actually participating in a race, and he loves beating his own time. Throw in some random “the floor is lava” moments, and you’re golden. It’s a win-win!
These are just some of the activities that work for us. We found it more difficult in the winter to get out and be more active outdoors, which is what led us to these adaptations. Sometimes our energy out hour is flying squirrel, swimming, outdoor scavenger hunts or the park – but sometimes this isn’t possible and honestly it’s unrealistic for a busy household with a single parent.
Bed time still isn’t perfect, but it’s better – and that’s okay. We’re still learning and figuring this all out together. I hope you were able to take some of these activities with you, because those extra 5-10 minutes of alone time are bliss! Good luck!
Links to the items in my videos (no affiliations):
Little Tikes Trampoline
Rock Climbing Holds