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. 💜

X Leanne x

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