Growing Kids Means Teaching Adulting

20141227_142906I started writing this Blog with the idea that my experience could help other people. I didn’t realize it was what I needed to chronical my personal experiences for myself. Throughout my life people have suggested journaling. I have tried and I have never been consistent. Blogging is different. I am a natural “no it all” so sharing my thoughts with other people always motivates me. The wonderful side effect of this is when I look back on my old Blogs I see how far we have come. When you read my Blogs you see what I wrote, and maybe you can infer some things, but the entire story is not there. When I read my Blogs, I know all the feelings that swirled around the incidents that I am accounting. Reading old Blogs is one of the most therapeutic things I can do, if only to see all this work really is working. My kids are doing better. This is particularly helpful at times like this, when we have already had two homework meltdowns since Friday.

We have just finished week 1 of school, and it was amazingly uneventful. We were even on time everyday. (That is a big deal around here.) I have taken a different approach with my older kids this year. I really want to make sure they master organizing themselves. To achieve this goal we sat down this morning for our first group calendaring session. What is that? It means we sat down and went through the online school assignment site and pulled out all assignments due for the next week. We discussed what was completed already and what the status of everything else is right now. Then they were directed to put it in outlook or on their phones with reminders.( I made sure this was done) I wrote down what was told to me about the status of all assignments and when they left emailed the necessary teachers to verify the work they said was turned in, was actually turned in. I hope to make this process a weekly habit. My older kids are now in 8th and 7th grade. It is important they start taking responsibility for their work, and master scheduling themselves. My mindset is shifting from just teaching self-regulation to teaching them how to Adult. This is step 2, organization. Step 1 was self-care. They now washing their own clothes, prepare there own lunches and breakfast, and are responsible for making sure they have their medication. They are only 5 and 6 years away from me dropping them off at a college campus. It is important to me that they know the basics of taking care of themselves.

Part of me feels like I should have done this when my oldest hit 6th grade, but I was not in the mindset to do it myself. I just got myself back on track with keeping 3 calendars and making sure I write everything down. Step 1 for me was getting myself mentally organized. I used the entire summer to do that. Making sure I had the necessary supplies and reminders to get where I needed to be in a timely manner. We missed a few steps here and there, but overall it worked. Once I got myself back on track, I was able to sit down and devise a plan of action for my kids. First and foremost I am flexible, being too rigid will guarantee everything I plan goes to hell. Additionally, for this to be successful, it is heavily dependent on me being consistent and insisting we create this habit. In the long run it will relieve stress in our household and make sure we take some the responsibility off of me. In the short term it is one more thing to plan.

What are you doing to teach your kids how to Adult?

WHY IS MEDICATION TABOO?

I have said before we medicate. Have you noticed parents are almost apologetic when they admit to medicating ADHD symptoms? The level of animosity people feel towards medication to treat the symptoms was initially shocking. It would not be socially acceptable to look down on parents who give their kids medication for diabetes, high blood pressure, a broken arm, fever or cold. When it comes to a cold we medicate mostly for comfort. Typically, in regards to treating a cold, parents agree making sure the child can rest comfortably and recover outweighs any risk related to giving medication. Every medication I have seen comes with a side effect list, and therefore carries risk. However, when we talk about mental health and behavior problems everyone becomes a Holistic expert. “I give my kid this and that, because I will not medicate my child.”

I do use supplements. I have taken the time to learn and teach myself what supplements are considered helpful in treating ADHD. My kids are seen by a psychiatrist who supports the use of supplements and guides you in their usage, but who will also help you medicate when necessary. She has taken the time to educate herself as a medical professional, and mother, on how supplements may help with brain function. This is by no means intended to bash the use of natural alternatives to help with ADHD. That being said, ADHD is a very real condition, and just like there are cases where diabetes and other disorders may be treated with diet only there are also times when medication is necessary. The same is true of ADHD, there are times when a Holistic approach works wonders, but there are also times when medication is necessary. I refuse to feel guilty, because medication is necessary for my kids right now. I have had it said to me by other parents, “I will not do that to my child.” As if giving medicine is akin to killing them. Let’s look at it logically. If exercise and dietary changes, supplementation, clear defined structure, and making sure they get enough sleep only has a minimal effect on a child’s ability to control ADHD symptoms during school, doesn’t medication seem warranted? What if the parent is someone who cannot do all of those things? Supplements are expensive, not all parents can afford them. The parent may not have the time or ability to successfully implement all of the aforementioned interventions. Does that mean the parent does not care about their child? No, it doesn’t. It means what works for one family doesn’t work for another, and that is OK.

At the end of the day how I deal with my child’s concerns is my decision. I am not a big fan of the side effects and issues that arise from the use of medication, however at this time, that it is the most effective way to ensure my children’s academic success. We continue to seek and try new methods and pray maturity will help with management. Bottom line, I think parents should see medication as tool to use in your arsenal to help their child achieve success, and they should not feel a need to explain why they have chosen that tool over a more natural approach. This is a complex process that requires more than one approach to ensure success.

I want to leave you with a question raised in the book “Raising Boys with ADHD” by: James W. Forgan Ph.D and Mary Anne Richey. The Book is quoting a physician who indicates he is often asked what is the risk of medicating my child? (Not an exact quote) The doctor turns the question around and ask what are the risks if you do not medicate your child? (not an exact quote) This one question and how the doctor elaborated on the answer made me see medicating my child differently.

BLACK ADHD MOM

HAVE YOU EVERY HAD A ROOT CANAL? (OR SOMETHING ELSE DONE YOU REALLY WOULD RATHER AVOID)

You know the dread you feel before a root canal? That underlying fear of just how bad you think it is going to be, but then there is this sense of urgency to get it over with. That I how I feel about the next two weeks. My kids start school on Thursday. I love their school. I have already had our accommodations meeting for the beginning of the year. I am generally comfortable with what we have in place, and what I am not comfortable with just have to play out, and I have already put my game plan in place. Let me anticipate the next question. “Why are you dreading the next two weeks? I read your last Blog and you seem to be on top of things.”

I am dreading that point when all my careful well thought out planning falls through and everything goes straight to hell; while I figure out how to deal with the reality of having a middle schooler, 5th grader and a 3 year old. Experience has taught me this usually occurs after the first two weeks of school. So let me break down how my years tend to go.

Phase 1: The Honeymoon phase

This is where the kids love their teacher, no new work yet, and they still like their classmates. The kids have not seen most of these individuals all summer and they are planning to do all sorts of fun things together. Including year long extracurricular activities, which will inevitably result in them hating each other by May, because they never get a break from each other. This is also the time when you have very few behavior troubles or difficulty getting homework done. You also manage to get out of the door on time during this phase of the school year. This last OOOOOOH about a week. This is usually the phase we do the accommodation meetings in this phase.

Phase 2: The Happy to Be Back to School

   This is different from the Honeymoon phase. They still like the teacher, but homework and real school work has started. If we are going to see behavior problems the signs start right about here. Now, if your kid is as over achiever, like my oldest son, he or she will try to see just what the teacher is made of very quickly. If you have a more passive aggressive child, my daughter, we see such behavior as excessive bathroom breaks, and completely zoning out during teaching time. Since I have learned the hard way how they approach things the teachers get warnings at the beginning of the year. The problem I am running into, and dreading, is the teacher often times does not listen. Don’t get me wrong. They listen to me when I am saying it, but usually they are in the middle of the honeymoon phase and child 1 and child 2 are still so sweet. This occurs more often with my daughter than my son, because she is not technically a behavior problem. (My son practically has a warning label. Generally teachers heed warning labels.) With my daughter the issue that arises is her behaviors are a problem for her academic progression just as my son’s are. This phase usually ends around October, which is also when I have meeting number 2 for the year.

Phase 3: Is it time for Christmas Break yet?

 By the end of October, I am in need of  a break from getting up and so do my kids. They are tired of their teachers, and honestly their teachers are tired of them. We need the break and this is where I see missing work, we end up being late. We are usually in full swing with extra-curricular activities. Honestly, we are all feeling a little over stretched once we hit November. By Thanksgiving and Christmas we are ready to stop going to school.

Phase 4: Refreshed and ready to go.

If I had to pick my favorite time of the school year it is January to May. The teachers are re-energized. The kids are re-energized. There are usually a lot of fun activities in the second semester. My kids do testing at the top of the school year so the end of the year is all about learning new things. My kids have adjusted to their teachers and classmates. The school weeks go a lot smoother and frankly are much more enjoyable. It would be perfect if the weather were better in January and February. I would say this is the most tiring part of the year, many summer sports start training in March or April, but it seems to be when everything comes together for my kids.

Phase 5: May and early June we are sick of Y’all!!!!!!

I have said before I have 1 extroverted child, 1 introverted child, and 1 somewhere in between (not in school). The extrovert has usually annoyed her introvert friends so bad they are sick of her, and she is sick of her extrovert friends. That fighting for the lime light thing has gotten old. There are few exceptions. My introverted child is simply sick of everyone. I mean everyone. Classmates, teachers, me, siblings, therapist. He is just a pill for about a month and a half until he is completely off his stimulate meds. I am also sick of everyone and ready to cocoon in my house for the summer until I emerge again in August. This is the end of the year. I have finally gotten to the point where the end of the year is a relief and I don’t dread it, because we pretty much shut down for the summer. I give myself and my kids a running break. We do some enrichment work and we zone out. Why? Because the circus starts back soon enough.

Pre-First day of School Jitters

Every year in August I have the pre-first day of school jitters. I worry about how the new school year will go. I worry about how my children will connect with the new teachers. I worry about how they will react to the medication starting again. The start of the new school year is not exciting for me. The start of the new school year is stressful.

This year I am taking things a little at a time. I have already filled out most of the new school year “paperwork”, it was online. I have noted to make my first lunch order on August 17, 2015 in my calendar and I will write the check and put it in my designated folder, yeah I am making a designated folder for back to school. I have already printed out my action plans for asthma and allergies, it goes in the folder. I have already contacted the doctor to get new prescriptions that I need to deliver to the school on day one, inhalers, epi-pens etc.. New uniforms have been ordered and will be here in the next week or so and the ones that fit are washed and put away in the appropriate drawers. The kids are helping to get the house organized, but they do not realize it. With all of this you would think I was an organized person. I am not. I am one of the most disorganized people I know.

It always seems like other moms manage to keep their houses clean, work, handle all school requirements, plan weekly meals, sign up the kids for all extra-curricular activities and build a perfect calendar so it all works together. That or their lying to me. They head some committee, become room parents and still manage to remember all paperwork, money needed for the beginning of the year, and get the kids to school well fed and on time every day. This mom is not me. My goals are much lower. Making it through the first month without a meltdown, too much missing work, or being late every other day. In addition to scheduling beginning of the year accommodation meetings, learning how to be a middle school parent, ordering lunches on time and getting some type of reasonable routine established pretty much sums up my first month goals. Not to mention that whole moving my personal career forward thing also is in the mix.

When I write it down, I realize I manage a lot in addition to all the other things I listed, which are on my responsibility list too. I guess the part I know I am missing is the seamless part. I am a realist. I know what I see is not reality, but the mom that can look perfectly put together while she pushes the baby in the stroller and walks in with her elementary school kid, and I look like crap warmed over, fussing at my kids to move faster and carrying my uncooperative three-year old, makes me feel like I should do more to make my life seamless. Then I realize she may not have to do as much as I do. My mornings are interesting at best. Getting out of the house takes the level of determination, organization (remember I struggle with this), and structure it took me to get out of professional school. Yes, it is that serious. Honestly, it may take more than that, because in professional school I was not married and I did not have any kids. I have to think ahead. If I am one beat behind the whole house of cards falls and I am left starting from the beginning. My next week starts Friday night. Other moms seem so put together and their kids seem so well-behaved while all I see is chaos in my house. It’s not that I care what they think, I care what I think. I would love to feel the calm it appears other mothers have. Yes, I am aware that appearance is really just that, only an appearance. Every person has challenges and difficulties.

I know I am not the only parent who feels this way. I am sharing a few things I am telling myself to keep my expectations realistic:

  1. You are a human being, you require rest, relaxation and self care.
  2. A dropped ball is not a failure, it is a dropped ball pick it up and keep running with it.
  3. Remember why you do what you do. It is for your kids therefore all the stress is worth it.
  4. People cannot help if you do not ask. Communicate what you need so you can apply number 1.
  5. It is perfectly fine to set personal goals outside of what you do for the kids.
  6. It is perfectly fine to be frustrated.
  7. If you manage to get the important stuff on your to do list done, the day was a success.
  8. Make a to do list so you know the day was success.
  9. Your big kids are old enough to take on greater responsibility, make it happen.
  10. Faith and prayer can get you through the toughest of times.

These are things I need to keep in mind for the upcoming school year, and with regard to everything I do. The older I get the more I realize most things are not serious enough to get really upset about. I am trying to relax and enjoy the ride, even though that is not my natural personality. What are you doing to prepare for the upcoming school year?

By: Black ADHD Mom