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?

Kindergarten Will Have to Wait

My 5 ½ year old is repeating Pre-K this year. We decided to wait, because he was not ready to move forward. I am not talking about academically. If it were only academic needs I would have pushed to send him to Kindergarten. We can do tutoring and school work modification to handle academic shortfall. We cannot force a child to mature any faster. This can be an agonizing decision, because as a parent you feel like you are holding your child back. This is not the first time we have done this. My oldest repeated pre-k, she is now in 8th grade and I am very happy with the decision. She is mature in her grade. We have problems related to her ADHD, but her behavior has generally been fine. This experience has made it easier this time around, but starting the school year seeing his friends have moved on and he is staying behind does pull at the heart strings.

The upside is his teacher has already said she expects him to be a leader. He has the same teacher so he already knows the routine and is helping his younger classmates learn it. This year is all about establishing independence and mastering following a routine, plus making sure he is academically sound to move forward. Repeating Pre-K or Kindergarten is not the end of the world. Many parents will tell you that extra year to mature was good for their child. I want to be clear this decision is not the right one for every kid, but I firmly believe it is the right one for my kid.

I was not surprised when the teacher made the recommendation. I had worked closely with the teacher all year, discussing his progress in different programs. He had never been in daycare before and certain things were foreign to him. Additionally, his speech was still lagging and he had a really hard time writing. He started speech in April of 2016, but the other issues I did not know about. I knew he didn’t like writing at home, but I thought he just didn’t want to sit. Not wanting to sit also became an issue. Over the year he participated in several programs to get him ready for Kindergarten and they didn’t work as expected. When the teacher made the recommendation to repeat Pre-k, I discussed it with my husband and the defining point was he is not mature enough.  Although it does not seem like it, kindergarten encourages a lot of independence. I had to honestly assess whether or not my child could handle it, and at the time he could not. As a parent with older kids, I have learned maturity is a big deal. It sets the stage for social interactions, following directions and even understanding some lessons being taught. If your child’s brain development is not ready to perform at the required level, the school year can be hell.

To get him ready to excel this year, over this summer we have done two different occupational therapies for two different reasons. One is just for handwriting and the other is to help him with attention and impulse control. He has improved greatly, and will continue his therapy throughout the school year. I am confident he will be ready for Kindergarten when the time comes. When you add the additional support with the additional maturity, hopefully Kindergarten year will be enjoyable for him.

If you are faced with this decision with your child consider the reason for the delay. Listen to the teacher and consult with a mental health professional or pediatrician. Talking it out with a teacher friend will help too. Do what you need to do, so you are comfortable with the decision being made. In the long run, it can give your child much needed to room to grow at their own pace. It also means you get one more year with your child at home. The closer I get to my oldest leaving the nest, the more grateful I am for that extra year.

Having a Teenager With ADHD Is “Interesting”

 

When you have a kids the first thing you are warned about are the newborn weeks. Sleepless nights, stressful days, and difficulty starting breastfeeding are some of the nightmare scenarios fellow parents warn you about. I found the newborns weeks to be fine. My babies were good sleepers and were generally easy to nurse. The second period they warn you about are the teen years. As of late 2016 my oldest child started her journey into the teen years and well we have had a rough start.

What new challenges am I facing that I wasn’t before? Well, to be honest, not much changed initially. My daughter has always been resistant to taking her medicine and she has always done things her way. The biggest issue is her growing independence is in conflict with her need for additional support. She recognizes being thirteen comes with additional responsibilities and she consciously wants to attack them, but that damn executive functioning deficit is kicking her butt. Add on the fact her natural personality is to be a strong, independent, “over” confident human being, and you have a recipe for academic disaster.

How am I attacking this? Well, ummm, you see…. I can only put out one fire at a time. I am demanding accountability while trying to provided “unwanted” support. Helping her is like trying to treat an injured animal. She knows she is struggling, but she thinks she will be locked in a cage if I or her teachers realize she needs help, and telling her otherwise falls on deaf ears. All of these additional concerns are accompanied by the general teenage mindset that being different is bad.

This is very different from when I started this ADHD journey. At the beginning I had no clue how to deal with ADHD at all. I did not know how to help my kids cope and I had a steep learning curve and a lot of help getting there. I still have help, but how do you support someone who does not let you know they need support, or when you give support they shut down?

This Blog is not full of solutions as I have just really started addressing the problem. We will come to a solution that will work for her, but if you are finding that all the support systems that were in place in 5th grade seem to be useless moving forward, you are not alone.

 

 

Black ADHD Mom

 

LAST WEEK WAS DIFFICULT BUT I AM COUNTING MY BLESSINGS.

Last week starting Monday was difficult. A lot went wrong and by Thursday my stress level was beyond reason. I am a woman of faith, and by Thursday I let go and let God and moved on. If you are not a person of faith, this is not an attempt to convert you or make you believe as I do. This is how I handled things. It is also why I will not go into the details of what went wrong. I trust God will work things out. However, in the midst of all that was wrong I was able to see something was very right.

I have said before I love my kid’s school, but an experience a family member is having with another school made me love it even more, especially the principle. This woman lives the philosophy every child can learn. For the purposes of this I am going to refer to her as Mrs. C. Mrs. C came to the school when my son was in Kindergarten. This was a God send for me, but I did not know it at the time. She is a little Italian woman from New Jersey not a lot older than myself, but a presence when she enters a room. Initially things felt very distant. During this time my son and daughter were both difficult in their own ways, and I was out of sorts. My husband was deployed to Afghanistan and this was our first, and only, deployment so things were out off. Over the course of three years Mrs. C along with some wonderful teachers taught me how to advocate for my son. They offered options to me. They guided me through the process of setting up accommodations. His Pre-k teacher helped me recognize his sensory processing disorder and indirectly guided me to his play therapist. (She was recommended by the coordinator of a program recommended by the Pre-K teacher). When I wanted to homeschool my son for a semester to help him through a rough time Mrs. C helped me with that and had a teacher assigned.

I don’t press for personal information about teachers. It is not my business, but Mrs. C shared information with me regarding her parenting journey which let me know she understood mine. With every teacher change Mrs. C is available to address questions and concerns. She has attended accommodation meetings and made sure they went smoothly. I am not naïve. I know her presence at my son’s accommodation meetings were as much to protect the school should they need to ask him to leave as it was to help, but my point is she didn’t make me feel that way.

It is not often you run into someone who wants to legitimately help you and your children succeed. I have been blessed to have so many good people in my life to give me a leg up and guide me through this journey of parenting my different kids. I am grateful to God for them. Without them I am not sure I could handle this juggling act that is parenthood too well.

BLACK ADHD MOM

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