For the last 20 years, vacations with my ADD husband have been a nightmare. I've sworn several times that I would never take a vacation with him again. We tried taking separate vacations, overlapping vacations, and mini-vacations in order to try to finesse this problem, but none of these were very satisfactory for various reasons. There are a lot of things we like about vacationing together, so we'd try again to make it work.
Several things that we've implemented in the last several years contributed to the success of this most recent vacation.
- We've been going to the same two places each year, so we are able to establish a certain amount of familiarity with the location, lodgings, etc. -- i.e. creating a certain degree of routine and structure
- We try not to pack the vacation full of activities -- allow enough time flexibility in the holiday so there are few, if any, time pressures -- some days are for just vegetating!
- My husband uses his PDA to note problems that arise on vacation -- he reviews these before and during our vacation so that he is more aware of these potential problems and can work to avoid repeating them
- Our kids are grown and so aren't with us throughout the vacation. They sometimes join us for a couple of days, but we are not having to constantly also deal with their issues -- thus fewer demands on my husband's attention
- We make checklists for packing, for pre-vacation preparation, for end-of-vacation departure planning. In some cases my husband makes a list himself and then I review it for completeness, in other cases we plan together.
- When considering activities, I come up with a "straw man" proposal, we discuss, maybe do additional investigation, and then decide how we want to proceed (i.e. if we want to do it, when and how). My husband has a lot of trouble initiating things, and I enjoy putting the draft plan together, so this works well for us.
- My husband changed somewhat how he addresses my proposals. A lot of times he doesn't care one way or the other about them. When he would say so, I'd ask him what he *would* like. Then he'd spend a lot of time considering, and often came up with answers that weren't inherently workable -- he'd end up disappointed, and felt like he'd put in a lot of mental effort for nothing. Now instead if he doesn't care, he just goes along with my proposal, and he finds he enjoys himself at least that much that way, without all the expenditure of the mental effort and the subsequent frustration.
We've implemented these steps over a period of several years, and the vacations have gradually gotten better, but there have still been problems. This year we didn't have a problem until the last 24 hours -- but since we'd had the same problem in the past, I was anticipating the possibility and was prepared to deal with it, so I wasn't stressed by it (and I think we've now dealt with it in a way that will keep it from recurring in the future).
I love the two places we've been vacationing year after year, but I must admit I've been longing to go to a couple of new spots as well -- but I'd been dreading it as well. Now that we've figured out many of the issues my husband's ADD generates in vacation situations, I'm hoping that we can manage a trip to a new location in the near future. Even if that ends up not working out, I'm tickled pink that we've found ways to make our standard vacations stressless!