Routines…A life in motion

Routines do you have one?….

As a parent I found routine started the day my first baby arrived. Before that I had pretty done what I wanted when I wanted. Then with arrival of baby the milk feeds every 4 hours started , nappy changes, nap times and bedtimes. It was hard at first but as the days went on I suppose I felt I kind of slipped into a routine. I have always been the sort of person to plan ahead. I can get anxious if plans change or don’t go the way I want them too.  Four babies later and the routine for me meant getting out of the door on time, not being late not showing people that I couldn’t cope having four children. I suppose I felt that if I was late people would say I should not have had 4!!! I hate to be seen as not coping. I have to look strong and in charge of life and routine is how I can do this. 


Even so when a diagnosis of ADD happened it gave me a whole new meaning and insight in to the word routine for me. Everything changed. It was no longer a matter of having a routine to keep four children looked after and where they needed to be. It became a way of coping with the ever increasing difficult behaviours and symptoms associated with my daughters diagnosis. 

With our family lives ruled by that word, what does the word routine actually mean…. According to the dictionary “it’s a sequence of actions regularly followed” 

ADD and routine…..

Before continuing to read think about what you think ADD means!!!

ADD means so many different things to different people. To some it’s bad parenting, a naughty child to others it’s a mental health illness, something they don’t understand. Maybe that child screaming uncontrollably in the supermarket or maybe that child you saw running across the road with an upset parent in tow are ADD. How would you know is my point. There are no physical symptoms…..but it does not mean it’s not there, and it doesn’t mean that I am not struggling. I am everyday.

Somto us as a family ADD is behavioural issues, impulsiveness, memory loss, fidgets, non stop talking, learning difficulties. Add in OCD and Anxiety and your day from start to finish is as unique as your child. The only constant is routine and in many cases your best friend and your worst enemy. Morning routines, breakfast/dinner/tea routines, school routines, bedtime routines, routines for outings and holidays, routines for family occasions. We have a routine for everything….why? Because without a routine we would never leave the house, we would never function as a family and nothing would ever get done. 

Is our life ruled by routine….

In a nutshell yes. I feel everyday at one point or another that I am completely and utterly ruled by routine. I feel as though I only get through the day by sticking to a mundane routine. It keeps the peace, it keeps everyone where they should be, it helps our daughter to try and function as normally as possible. Is it hard? You know what…yes it’s bloody hard. It’s boring, it’s frustrating, it can be time consuming and any small, insignificant thing could make routine fly out of the window resulting in tears, anger, shouting and confusion.


 My daughter has her own routines and her own coping mechanisms that help her deal with life and the world around her. Sometimes I feel that we are oceans apart on what we feel is acheiveable and what isn’t. Then again this is where I have had to relearn the way I think. I have to let her have some control over her routine. If she needs to brush her hair three times before we leave the house for school then I need to make sure I give her enough time. If she feels the need to clean her room before we leave the house I need to let her. Taking a teddy for comfort you can guarantee it’s always the one that’s she wants that we can’t find. If I need to change any part of what she deems normal then all hell breaks loose. Holidays? Forget it unless it is meticulously planned and she knows all the ins and outs and can take everything she needs. Last minute trips out or a Change of plans for dinner oh do not even go there. If I said she could have sandwiches it had better be sandwiches because that’s what I said it would be. Nope I only attempt this if it’s absolutely necessary. 😫 The upset and tantrums that result are quite often more than I can bear. If I don’t do the Ironing on a Sunday morning I can be shouted at. Why? Because that’s the usual routine school clothes are ironed on a Sunday morning and if I don’t do it because we are having a lazy Sunday or going out then she starts to panic and become anxious as she needs those clothes in her wardrobe ready for school the next day. Did I mention that she is 9 years old.

To get out of the house for anything has always been a battle so I am implementing a new strategy. For me it’s an easy way to stop myself from yelling and rushing half dressed kids out to the car. We have three check points. By that I mean we have a ⏱15 minute warning, a 10 minute warning and then followed by a 5 minute warning accumulating in me unlocking and opening the front door ready to go. This allows all my children to know roughly how long they have left before we leave the house. Of course this does not always work. It’s not foolproof. My daughter can have days where she can not cope with my routine. She fights it tooth and nail on those days for the sake of my other three daughters I have to concede at some level. Is this bad parenting? Am I letting her get away with being awkward? No I don’t see it like that. I see it as doing the best I can with the skills I have as a parent. I feel guilt about this everyday. I feel frustrated and I get angry even now and we have been like this for nearly 7 years. I find that the older the children are getting the wider the goal posts are getting. The challenges shift all the time nothing stays the same.

What have I learnt….. 

The last few years since the break up and make up of my marriage has opened my eyes to so many things. Strength being one of them. I have the strength inside me to look after my children the best way I can. I have learnt quirky ways to deal with the fact that I don’t always get it right. Routines are all well and good but how much of our day to day life can we really spend dwelling on and dealing with a routine. Should we beat ourselves up when it goes wrong? No pick yourself up and shake it off, you are doing the best that you can and never let anyone tell you different. πŸ’œ

X Leanne x

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Just a normal mum – mothers insightΒ 

I have not written for a while. It’s not that I haven’t tried I have a few drafts on the go but don’t seem to beable to finish them. The last couple of weeks have been really hard. Easter holidays were a wash out. If it wasn’t the children being ill it was me. Illness for me tends to happen the same time every year πŸ€” very strange but there I was laid up in bed for nearly a week having to rely on husband and family to help me look after the children and it made me think!! I need some super powers!!!

  

 Do you find it hard asking for help? 

I do strange as it may seem I don’t even like asking the husband. I tend to feel that as a mother it’s my job and I should be like some sort of super mum with special powers. Bottom line is I am no super hero. Just a normal everyday mum like you. I don’t have magic powers if I did I would take away my daughters ADD and deafness. If I had special powers my house would always be clean and tidy, the garden would look amazing, the ironing pile wouldn’t gain in height everyday. Homemade meals would be cooked everyday, my children would make it out the door with their hair brushed, hearing aids wouldn’t go missing, reading records would get filled in. 

Most days I don’t even get to make my own bed or have breakfast or even get my socks on.  It’s all go from the minute my ADD daughter is awake. It’s like a switch has been flipped although most mornings she is awake long before I am it’s not until we start our morning routine that things start to become stressful and making my bed is the least of my worries. The other three girls tend to be self sufficient now and other than me shouting wether we have 30 minutes until we leave it 5minutes they are able to dress and get breakfast mostly without issue. My ADD daughter is a whole different ball game. Argumentative, sneaky 😳, anxious. She can’t, won’t eat, she fights me at every turn. Plus lately her feet are falling of, she has tummy ache and can’t go to school. She can of course if I really thought she was ill she would be at the doctors but as a parent using your intuition is a staple of the day. 

You have to prioritise!! 

 

easter eggs in bed as a treat
 
You can’t do everything, be everywhere even if you wanted to be. That goes for any parent. All we can all do is try our best, do the best for our children and make sure that they are happy. Easter Sunday we had chocolate eggs in bed as no one was feeling particularly up for anything else more energetic. Who cares am I a bad parent for letting them eat eggs for breakfast? Am I a bad influence for joining them and eating my Easter egg with them? No I am not!!!! It’s a once a year treat and after such a grotty Easter holiday that followed I am glad they at least had that much fun. If it’s a particularly stressful day is sausage and chips such a bad meal combination? No you can’t cook from scratch everyday cut yourself some slack. 

For me on a school day as long as I have clothes on and my teeth are brush other stuff like my hair just had to wait until the school run is done. It’s more important for me to get the children dressed, breakfasted and to school on time. That’s another quirk of mine if I am late for anything I see it as a failing. I have to be on time for everything. Being late for school is a no no. If we are running late I feel sick and I start to feel anxious. In a way I suppose I need people to see that I am coping and that I can do my job as a mother. By being on time at least people think I am fine ☺️ even with crazy hair and no make up!!!

When it’s the holidays the whole plan goes completely out the window. There’s no routine. We try to plan outings and play dates so that we have something to work towards. I also find that I have to plan things for mornings and try and get out the house first thing. My children are so much better if I get them out first thing. This wasn’t possible while ill so I felt terrible on top because they spent the Easter holidays cooped up. Our daughter with ADD struggled the most. She couldn’t cope with staying in and not having anything to do. This caused upset and arguments. She found it hard to understand why we couldn’t go out. She called me selfish and mean because I was ill. At the time this upset me. All children have an uncanny ability to make us parents feel bad I think in their own way. We strive to make them happy, keep them healthy and sometimes it can feel like it’s not good enough. They are tough days but you manage, you find a way to cope. If we feel like we are failing it’s because we are human, parents raising the next generation disabled or not. The moral I suppose is don’t be to hard on yourself. We can’t have great days everyday, how boring would that be? Life’s ups and downs make us stronger, they test us but being a parent is the most rewarding thing ever especially when your ADD daughter says 

Thank you mummy for letting me do some painting I have tidied up in there are you better now it shall I go get you a drink? 

Needless to say there was paint all over but her artwork was lovely 😘

  
Take care till next time 

X Leanne x

Mealtimes and ADD… mums worst time of day

So a bone of contention in our house this week is eating. Getting my daughter who is ADD to eat is like trying to bleed blood from a stone. 

Nothing I seem to be trying has been working. Breakfast, dinner and tea I may as well just put the food in the bin or better yet not even start cooking. Why does everything seem to be such a battle. I either just cook what I think she will eat and it’s wrong or I ask and then cook and still it’s wrong. I can’t win and I am the bloody adult!!! Why does eating have to pose such an issue seriously I am not soft I don’t let them dictate I cook set meals and switch it around I make it interesting while trying to not be boring and I don’t cook what I know they won’t eat. So why I think to myself will my 9 year old just not bloody eat. My other girls eat and she sees them eating, they see her not eating and being spoon fed (yes some days the only way she will eat is if I feed her ). I have tried earlier tea times, later tea times all sorts. I just feel like an utter idiot, a failure who can’t even get her own child to eat.

 

 

Much needed brew of choice today

Well you see for Louisa she is on medication for ADD. This helps her to concentrate and control her behaviour and allows her to learn and function where she otherwise would struggle, but a MAJOR drawback is that it is suppressing her appetite. She is 9 1/2 years old and weighs around 4.5 stone by comparison my 6 year old is 5 stone. We have appointments every 6 months to check medication, weight etc and we are told don’t let it get below 4 stone.

 

Even though I am doing everything that I can to ensure she maintains her weight her clothes are hanging of her, she is skin and bones and her energy levels are rubbish. I have to be so careful when she has a massage so that I don’t hurt her as her bones poke out. Its heartbreaking and I hate it.I feel like I am failing her on every level.  What am i suppose to do? without her tablet we go back to how it use to be where she can’t concentrate, sit still, she can’t learn, can’t socialise, picks on her sisters, throws things in anger the list goes on. Medication is meant to help my daughter but I see the effects that it has on her. Family and friends, strangers in the street can all see the effect that taking mediation has on her. So why do I do it? Why do I every morning give a tablet to my child? Can anyone else relate?

Food has defiantly been an issue for the last three years and its only getting worse the older Louisa gets. The medication used to treat ADD / ADHD is known to make them not feel hungry. It suppresses their appetites. Its why they are checked while they are on it, but what do you do between appointments. I have to weigh her weekly, its become something that I feel paranoia over. My husband is the same we are obsessed with seeing if she has put any weight on.You see I am so scared that if her weight drops to much they will intervene maybe put her in hospital but no amount of cajoling even at 5.30 pm when her medication has worn of will get her to eat. She is to tired and grumpy, argumentative and just wants to be left alone and she’s anxious about everything. She just has no interest in anything so no amount of bribes will work either. It’s getting to the point where she is starting to realise she has control over wether she eats or not. That’s something I don’t want to go through.

A new strategy…

So we have started with a new old strategy :)… a smile chart. I had tried reward charts when she was younger but they never really seem to stick and with the memory problems and learning difficulties she didn’t really understand what it was all about, she just wanted the reward. Our new smile chart is much simpler than a sticker / star chart as all you need is a pen and a piece of paper. No trying to find stickers and the stress of running out or hours spent trying to choose the right stickers because “it has to be the right one mummy”, no arguements no stress and they can personalise it anyway they want to. As long as you have a steady supply of pens your fine.

Excuse the grubby fingers
  

 So as you can see there are two charts. One I made up for home and she can gain two smiley faces a day, one for breakfast and one for tea. The second is one that we put in her lunch box for school. This means that anyone like a friend or dinner lady or teacher can draw a face and if thats forgotten with a pack lunch I can see exactly what she has eaten and add a smiley face at the end of the day. I was paying for lunches but Louisa refused to eat them πŸ˜”

The aim is for my daughter to get as many smiley faces as she can. When she has a full 10 smiles for breakfast/tea in a 7 day period she gets a reward. The lunchtime chart is the same. Its all about making it as achievable as possible without making eating such an issue that she digs in her heels. Basically I need to make her want to eat and if a reward will do the job I can live with that.

So last week’s reward was a new pencil case she had been asking for. The lunchtime reward was an extra 15 minutes before bed on saturday and Sunday. As you can see from the chart she achieved both πŸ™‚ The rewards can be anything that you along with your child decide getting them involved is key. Louisa needs to be excited about something so that she overcome’s her anxiousness.  So we personally decided on things that louisa needed. i.e. a pencil case, a new book a little extra time before bed. Sweets and chocolate hold no appeal over a new pencil case in my house thank god! chocolate bars these days seem to be smaller anyway and more expensive or is that just me?

Last week was the first week. It was a good week Louisa was really excited and loved putting smiley faces on the charts. I thought all was going well, but we seem to have hit a stumbling block tonight. I cooked tea something I know she would eat but no she would not bloody eat it for love no money. I feel so powerless when she is like this. It breaks my heart because I know her body needs the food and frustrated because as her mother it is my job to make sure she grows up healthy strong and gets the nourishment she needs.  I feel anger that she won’t eat and have to try so hard not to escalate the situation while still trying to get her to cooperate. Without the proper diet I know she could end up with health problems, she could end up with eating disorders. Lack of food means that her concentration is even worse than normal, her body is tired and has to use its own energy to sustain her hyperactivity. I feel inadequate like its my fault.  As her mum its my job to make sure she eats. My other three girls all eat like horses. Anything I put in front of them they will eat, but lately I find I am doing more and more to try and cook things that Louisa will eat which means that meal times have become boring. I cook meat she won’t eat it except for chicken I can just about get away with, mash potato is a no no, peas hell no!!!  bread no crusts and she won’t even touch chocolate….says its too chocolaty, crisps as long as they are the right ones, sausage rolls a must for breakfast, cooked breakfasts she will ask for then not eat once cooked. But she loves spaghetti and meatballs ☺️

All I can do is keep trying and doing my best. Hopefully after today she will get back into the swing of things and we will again have some fab results and fun looking for a new book. What ever the next few weeks bring at least I know that I have tried to do my best and at the end of the day thats all I can do. It’s all any of us can do. With ADD I am finding its all about trial and error much like with normal parenting. We all have stages with our children wether disabled or not of stubbornness and refusals to eat, go to bed ect. The key is to take it in our strides as best we can learn from it and move onto other things. My children all have a stubborn streak. It runs in the family and they are also argumentative I feel like I am butting up against a brick wall most days and even though I try to think positive I can’t help feeling somedays that my best just isn’t good enough, and when I look at my daughter I see what other people can see and blame myself even more. I will never blame her.

will keep you posted

x leanne x