Going on Holiday……How we cope

Its that time of year again when school is winding down and my children are getting excited about the end of the school term and holidays. For weeks now I have been asked “what are we doing in the holidays mummy?” or ‘Can we do this mummy?” and we are not even at half term yet!!!
So far I have tried to not think about what having the children home for six weeks will mean but today I am facing facts.

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The six week holidays for us in previous years has been long and boring and arduous.

  • No routine – This can spell disaster. Anxiety, excitement, boredom all kick in
  • Food bills escalate – all parents wether they have disabled children or not must find this one of the biggest effects of school holidays
  • Trips out – unless throughly planned down to the last second can turn from fun to excruciating in seconds
  • Holidays – planning and packing with the children about….enough said
  • Car journeys – these are always the worse. Short trips I can get away with long journeys only if necessary
  • Holidaying on the doorstep – We use to go camping outside of Norfolk until a few years back. Camping on the doorstep where we can go home if we needed to or fetch something we forgot seemed such a better idea.
  • Sibling rivalry – In one word OUCH. The children can argue about everything and anything. It can drive me up the wall to the point of tears.
  • Money is another difficult part of the school holidays. Trips out, holidays they all cost money. Even a seemingly free trip to the beach can cost over £5 plus diesel getting there due to parking costs.

School days are easy the children know what they are doing where they are going and so on…. school holidays are a whole different kettle of fish.

Holidays

This year we decided to go to Scotland with the caravan in the Easter holidays….. But our daughter with ADD, Anxiety suspected ASD, Sensorineural hearing loss and OCD was not coping with the planning. She started to check the weather at every available moment. I would put my phone down and it would go missing. She would keep repeating when are we going? when are we coming back? What if I don’t like it?  What about my things I need mummy?

You see I had only given her a months notice that we were going and with the added issue of memory loss she was basically just freaking out. She was becoming Anxious and at one point worrying so much it was affecting her sleep. So we felt that we had to move the Scotland holiday until July. This has given us an extra 3 months in which to prepare her for a week somewhere away from home and to get use to the idea. We talk about the holiday all the time and have maps prepared and marked so she can see where we are going.

On a test run at the bank holiday weekend we went for three nights just down the road. Literally the next village from where we are!! Two seconds from the Grandparents house. I am not kidding that girl had more luggage then her Dad, Me and three siblings put together. What I found worked though at keeping the anxiety levels down was letting her pack her own bags. This helped her to cope with the fact we were going away from the home. She had a limit of two bags well ok three by the time she had convinced me of what she really needed to take. Items included

  • Teddy who she literally can not sleep without
  • Story Massage book
  • fairy book – we read a chapter every night after medication
  • colouring items
  • crochet bag
  • some other books
  • other assortment of toys that she promised would not get in the way
  • own pillow, sheet, quilt
  • two other cushions that she sleeps with
  • certain pjs that she had to have
  • Her clothes
  • shoes
  • coats
  • medication
  • snacks

By the time we had finished near enough her whole bedroom was in the caravan. Thank goodness for a fixed bunk bed and a 6 berth van.

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in the caravan
The weekend went well so I have high hopes for the actual week spent in Scotland….Maybe!!!

The night time routine was the hardest aspect. Luckily we shopped around before buying a caravan and made sure it had black out blinds to help with this. In our older vans we use to black out the widows using any means necessary including bin bags taped to the windows. We try to keep to the bedtime routine we use at home so that she has that continuity. Its difficult and there are downsides to camping but to what extent do you allow disabilities to encroach into family life. I hope when my children look back in years to come they realise on some level that everything i do and try to do is to maintain as normal a life of them as possible. Holidays abroad I must admit is not something i have considered doing as yet. The girls ask about going on a plane but for now I am just happy to try and show them what Britain has to offer. Even if its just a campsite a mile from home. Distance is not the be all its the family time spent together that really matters and the memories you make.

Travelling 

So our Scottish holiday entails the trip up there to start with. For that we will do what we did at christmas when we travelled to Yorkshire. I made all of my girls a snack bag up. Items included
fruit
biscuits
drink
colouring book
sticker books
cuddly toy
fiddle toys
scrap book

The bags were an instant hit and kept their hands busy for the majority of the trip there and back. Tip Tap was a game I remember playing in the back of the car as a child…. a very annoying game that can quickly escalate. Not something I want to experience as a parent 🙂

We also played eye spy, count the red cars and count the white vans. I sat in the rear with my daughter’s. That was an experience but one I felt was worth it. My ADD daughter loved that I was sitting with her and her sisters loved it even more because even when medicated she can turn a small crowded space in to battle ground. I was there with her keeping her calm and relaxed. I was able to use Story massage with her to keep her entertained and the calmer environment meant that Dad could concentrate better on the road and that her sisters didn’t all become stressed out as well. Plus I was able to divide my time between the four of them without craning my neck from the front seat.
After 5 hours on the road I can honestly say I was shattered. The constant entertaining and answering questions and singing meant that I really needed a break once we got there so straight away they went for a walk to burn of the excess energy. That week turned out to be a good week. With everything she needed our daughter mostly had a good time though she was very glad when we started to head home. The floods in York happened the week we were there and she was very scared that we would get trapped by the flood water and not get home. At the time we had a 4 x 4 which went some way to helping with her fear. Its not until you are away from home I think that you really get a sense of how scary having any sort of disability can be.

All I can do is hope for the best. I don’t want the children to miss out on going to new places and doing new things because of their disabilities. It just takes more planning and preparation and being to a degree able to change certain aspects at a drop the hat. We shall see….

x Leanne x

Allsorts…mums insight into ADD and more

Life in this house is always interesting to say the least. Living never mind raising four daughters is a challenge I am slowly finding harder each day. Living with ADD and hearing loss new days bring forth new challenges. Life is never boring…..


This week was a good week. Good for us means no major meltdowns just minor meltdowns, small irritations. No furniture thrown, arguements that are easily defused with a “get outside and play” as the weather has improved, Louisa moving up a level on Lexia reading core 5  ( a reading programme readily available for children helping to spell ect) which is quite momentous for her and a proud mummy moment.  Taking medication when asked, eating as much of their tea as they can, not waking as much in the night and a week of generally finding it easier to be a mum rather than a sergeant major bellowing orders at his recruits.

How many of you find that shouting at your children has no real effect?  Me I can shout till I feel my throat getting sore, my hands start to tingle, my face goes red and still my state of agitation has no effect on my children. One will just stand and scream back at me, one will either scream at me or become anxious depending on wether she is medicated at the time. The other two have a mild/moderate hearing loss so they just laugh at me and take of their hearing aids and say they can’t hear me 😡 as an adult I am suppose to rise above all of this behaviour but how?  I admit I bellow, I shout really loud as my daughter wrote in her recent Mother’s Day story massage poem (www.storymassage.co.uk) 

My Super Mum by Charlotte, aged 11

My mum is like Super Mum, (The Circle)
always there when I need her. (The Circle)
She appears like a ninja all ready to help, (The Upwards Fan)
and swoops into save me when I’m feeling lost. (The Downwards Fan)

My mum is a Super Mum, a Super Mum she is (The Circle)
She sorts out my problems and listens to me (The Calm)
She shows me she cares, she makes me so happy (The Squeeze)
I feel all warm and fuzzy inside. (The Squeeze)

 But sometimes I am naughty (The Drum)
Super Mum can shout – very loud (The Drum)
She tells me to be good, to be kind. (The Calm)
I want to grow up to be just like my Super Mum (The Circle)

 My Super Mum brings magic and excitement (the Bounce)

I know how much she cares, she shows me everyday (The Circle)
So I wrote this for you, Mum (The Circle)
To show you how much I care. (The Calm)

Alas this week my temper has been kept in check. The sun has been out so the kids can play in the garden. We are not all cooped up inside which helps. Some days I really wish I could afford a bigger house so they had more space…maybe in the future. I have still felt frustrated at the beginning of the day but that’s normal right? The school morning routine is not for the faint hearted. I think for us parenst its the most stressful part of our day. I salute any mums that manage to put make up on and brush their hair before the school run ( my sister never leaves the house with out makeup 😘) I just can’t…… I always run out of time I am lucky if I don’t leave the house wearing slippers!!!! 

With Four kids to get up, dressed, breakfast, lunches ready, school bags, medication, hearing aids, school letters……. It’s no wonder my youngest sometimes goes to school looking like she has been dragged through a bush backwards. Seriously that hair it gets matted and I am such a bad mum for yanking it into pig tails to hide it 😳 You know what though it’s not that I don’t care it’s just sometimes there are more important things to worry about. As long as they have everything they need, the three of them have their hearing aids so they can access language and learning and have eaten and are at school on time what does it matter if one has odd socks? One hasn’t brushed their hair? Ones in trainers and another is in leggings which is not school uniform!!! And oh shit they have nail varnish on does that make me a bad parent. I hope not lol. 

It’s also that time of year when the six weeks holidays are looming. They have one week of at the end of the month then the real count down will start. Watch out for future crazy mum blogs…….
It’s been SATS week this week as well. Worry and stress have been a huge part of year 6’s here in England for months now with so much prep work and mock tests. With a little bit of massage and relaxation and a small amount of patience we have  managed to get our 11 year old through. Massage really was the key to helping her calm down and relax while refocusing her and helping her concentration.  To put preteens through this much stress for pretty much no real reason I can fathom as a parent is silly. I found it stressful. Trying to keep a lid on my 11 year olds potentially explosive behaviour is hard. She’s the odd one out as she calls herself as she has no hearing loss unlike her sisters. She finds it hard to cope with her sisters challenging behaviour associated with ADD. I wonder if my eldest better understands due to her hearing loss? Don’t know maybe that’s something I will look into. I did It though. We got to school 10 minutes earlier as asked in a newsletter. The SATS are now over for this year…… Next one to sit SATS next year is Louisa. 

I have been a mean mum this week though. Do you ever get to the point where even though the kids have been at school all day you need them to go to bed? I have felt like that. In fact that might explain why this week has been better. The kids have all been in bed and asleep by 8.pm. Even the elder two which gets me thinking that they must have been tired otherwise they wouldn’t have slept. They did moan and groan at me and I had some it’s not fairs, your stupid mum, but I am not tired but no where near the amount of protesting that I would have normally gotten. Next week they will be back on form and resisting at every turn just as children do but it’s been calmer and they have been better behaved.

We had a hearing aid overhaul this week as well. 3 X 2 hearing aids to be cleaned and retubed.  That’s always a fun job especially when the children Spring it on me 10 minutes before leaving the house. Quick mum can you just…. Why didn’t we do this last night? Erm chances are they asked last night and I properly said I will do it later as I was busy and later then transpires into the next morning… Sound familiar? Anyway they were sorted and we were out the door no later than needed which was good. 


 Although a better week the hormones have started in our house this week. With two so close in age (11,12) the tempers are flared. The husband is already prepping his man shed to save himself from the wrath of four girls but sometimes there’s no getting away from them. As a mum I think I need a mum shed!!!! Somewhere that I can escape to although knowing my luck they would be at the door banging and shouting much like they still do when I go to the toilet. Yes even aged 12,11,9 and 6 I can not go to the toilet in peace. I try to time it when they are busy but you can guarantee as soon as I sit down “MUM?..” 😫 

How our daughter who is 10 (ADD) will cope when these changes start I don’t know. Not looking forward to that time at all. As with all things though I shall try and work through it and learn ways to cope. Luckily massage is already such an intergrated part of our family life that when all else fails I can use massage to relax and promote a calmer atmosphere. Just wish I could do a massage on myself some days although with story massage the children love giving mummy a massage 😊 and to hear them making up their own songs or using the language skills that in the case of hearing loss and ADD took so long to come to the fore front I just love hearing them use language and sing. 

This week has been rather an unusual one in that here we are on Saturday morning and I feel able to write. The children are playing happily having been up since 5am. The peace won’t last for long but I savour it while it’s here.
As always any comments gratefully recieved. Remember you are not alone

Take care 

X Leanne x

Year 6 exam stress argh……Indian head massage can help

How many of us as parents remember taking our exams? 


My GCSE exams were 16 years ago this year and I remember it like yesterday. So much revision, reading, revision cards, waiting around for exams to start all encroaching on my budding social life going out with friends. I remember I became bored and unfocused. I knew they were important but as any normal teenager I had other things on my mind. I also suffered tension head aches and eye strain. I managed to get fairly good grades considering but when we look at the news these days and the amount of work our children bring home I feel the grades I got inadequate. I don’t know the answers and as much as I try to help my children Google has become my best friend.

Having two children year 6 and 7 means this is the second year where we have noticed the stress a child can go through due to exams. Last year I couldn’t understand Why on earth is my 11 year old was getting headaches, not sleeping well and being more moody than usual. This year we are going through the same again. 

The answer is having to revise and practise tests ready for the SATS. I don’t remember much about them!!! I don’t even remember doing them. I certainly don’t remember doing endless maths problems, computer programmes and workbooks everyday. This extra pressure placed on our children seems to make the SATS an even scarier. My daughter has been worried for weeks that she will not be able to do well. Surely we shouldn’t be pushing our children at this age to worry so much over tests that won’t even be of use to them in later life? Or maybe I have it wrong. Maybe these tests at 10-11 years of age are as important as the ones they sit when 15-16 years. Even so some of the questions I couldn’t answer on the practise sheets. Maybe these tests are designed to make parents feel inadequate when it comes to education!!! 

Anyway it got to the point last year that as a holistic therapist  I decided to build in a massage schedule into my daughters week to help her Cope. This year I am doing it again for my second daughter.

Massage is known to relax, ease tension caused by sitting or daily pressures. Massage can aide concentration, focus, it can calm the mind and rebalance the body. In addition to this I find Indian head massage a perfect treatment for children and adults of all ages as its so adaptable. There is limited set up and the treatment can be done anywhere anytime.


 So we have started twice a week with my daughters having a 20 minute Indian head massage. This 40 minutes of relaxation a week aides better sleep, less tension causing headaches, plus releases tension in muscles due to sitting and writing or typing. It also gives them time out which is important. Coming home yesterday after sitting the first exam of this week my daughter was volition, hot and tired. She was so argumentative that in the end I told her she was having an Indian head massage. Knowing how relaxing she finds this she agreed. 

The massage can be done any time of day but I find personally with my own daughters early evening is better as they can then chill out and relax before they go to bed. Being relaxed makes sleep easier and helps to refocus and calm our inner selves. You know as parents when your feeling tense, worried and stressed out sleep is less likely to happen. Children and teenagers are exactly the same. I find after a massage they can be a lot calmer and after a good nights sleep they wake up in a better mood and ready for another day. 

We are also in the middle of writing a story massage stay tuned for more info 😊

http://www.marshamholistictherapy.co.uk

Good luck to all doing exams in May 

X Leanne X 

Massage for children… Any time any where 

As mentioned in previous blogs we use massage with our children as a relaxation, concentration, learning activity. We use massage morning, afternoon and night-times in lots of different situations and scenarios. Why? Because for us massage is a way of interacting with our children using a relaxing tool rather than shouting and getting annoyed with them which i previously did. It means less arguements, less tension and stress. It also means quiet time, creativity and respect.

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Story massage comes before hair brushing in our house

We have four daughter’s ranging from 12 years through to 6 years. On a daily basis as a family unit we live with sensorineural hearing loss and ADD. We are also currently living with two preteens full of hormonal changes, moods and frustration due to thinking they are ready for the adult world.
Primarily on my older two we use Indian head massage. This is a seated massage that is beneficial at the end of the day to calm and relax as well as spending some one to one time with my children. As a therapist I get asked how this works when parents bring their children for a massage? My answer is that attending a massage therapy session can feel daunting to children. They can become more tense and even scared as they do not know what is going to happen. I always work with a parent in the same room and if possible get mum or dad to have a massage first so that the child can see what is going to happen. I always tend to talk through the massage even with my own children so they do not startle when I move from the shoulders to the neck.

Obviously with children you have to adapt some of the massage techniques to take into account their smaller bones and muscles as well as nervousness and this is something I am always conscious off. I also adapt the massage to go with the child’s body language. My daughter with ADD some days just can not tolerate being touched. If her anxiety is particularly bad then no matter how patient I am massage just will not work so we sit and talk instead. You can see when an Indian head massage does start to work as after a few sessions relaxation sets in, fidgets decrease and children comment they have enjoyed their Indian head massage. Indian head massage is a perfect pick me up after a stressful day as well as being perfect for lunch breaks. Massage can last from 15 minutes to 30 minutes meaning it can fit in with almost any lifestyle.

At this time of year exams can place a lot of stress and tension on our children as young as 10. I have also found Indian head massage to be beneficial here. Children can feel stress as much as we can and so they too can benefit from relaxation. Indian head massage can also aide sleeplessness, headaches and eye strain which are common symptoms of revising and exam taking.

With my younger two children we use http://www.storymassage.co.uk

Story massage is a treatment you could say ‘does exactly what it says on the tin’. It is a wonderful treatment blending 10 simple but effective massage moves with stories, nursery rhymes and songs in a variety of ways. This is a treatment that you as Parents can share with your children at any time of the day and dare I say it night. It is also a treatment you can get the whole family, carers,friends, teachers involved in and having fun.

Book available on amazon or via singing dragon publishers


So far we have used story massage

  • Bedtimes
  • bathtime
  • to explain a new situation
  • Tea times
  • Quiet time
  • Long car journeys
  • to celebrate a special occassion
  • On holiday
  • In the supermarket
  • Waiting for an appointment
  • To calm down an arguements
  • When waiting in a queue
  • Camping in the caravan

 

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story massage in the caravan…..excuse the mess

Story massage is really easy to learn and you can start enjoying it straight away. Since becoming an instructor I have personally used Story massage nearly everyday at home. My children love to write their own stories and then get mummy to put massage moves with it. It really brings out their creative side and gives the children a sense of achievement. Stories can be short and sweet or longer and there really is no right and wrong way to do it.  They all sit on the stairs and tell each other stories with massage. Its perfect for a rainy day activity or when those sibling arguments are starting to get on your nerves.

I have also found story massage to be really useful with coping with symptoms of ADD and Anxiety. Personalised stories reinforced with massage can aide concentration, raise self confidence and relax especially when there is difficult behaviour. This has been especially true for us at teatime when my daughter has refused to eat. During training I along with another participate wrote a story about a magical food unicorn. We still use this story even now to encourage my daughter to eat. I have found in my own personal experience that story massage can also reduce the feelings of anxiety. When my daughter is feeling particularly stressed and upset about something story massage gives her a positive to concentrate on. For example in a previous blog I wrote about a car journey and how Story massage helped to keep her calm and focused in a small space.

I offer Story massage sessions to families here in Norfolk.

  • fun and informal, relaxing learning approach with plenty of tea’s and coffees
  • A session typically lasts 2 hours either with just parents / carers or with the children as well.
  • You will learn more about story massage, the founders, history
  • get hands on practise learning the massage moves
  • be able to write your own personalised story massage for your child
  • feel confident in sharing story massage with your own children anytime anywhere

I am now of to do a 5 minute story massage as its the first day back after a long weekend which my ADD daughter has found confusing and is now starting to feel anxious. Keep in touch as always and look out for the next edition

 

Take care

x Leanne x