Is it Time for School Yet?

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School holiday fun
As the summer holidays are drawing to a close its time to invariably start thinking about school. Uniforms, pack lunches, equipment and best of all routines. For us the worst part of the 6 weeks holidays is the lack of routines. Our daughter who has ADD finds it increasingly difficult being at home and not having that consistency. She can become over anxious about events and days out that are planned or god forbid spur of the moment trips.

Is it bad of me to admit that I sometimes find myself wishing the holidays spent with my children away just to get to the end of the holidays and back into a semblance of normality? No…. After years of feeling annoyed and upset at myself thinking I was a terrible person I have come to realise its not bad, its just part of being a human being and a parent. Parenting is hard work and when faced with entertaining our little people for six whole weeks it can make us a little crazy. Factor in the financial burden as well and this time of year can become more expensive than christmas.

For a child with ADD / ADHD routine is a large part of how they make sense of the world around them and how they fit in at home and socially. For most children school days are regimented, the same, children know what is expected of them and where they are supposed to be;

  • Wake up
  • Wash, dress, brush teeth
  • Breakfast
  • Gather school items need for day
  • Leave house
  • arrive school for the day
  • picked up at home time
  • homework / play
  • tea
  • bed

Our school day is all of this plus medication, anxiety, arguments, frayed tempers, stress, missing items, sibling rivalry , screaming all before 8.30am in the morning. I was not looking forward to this continuing especially now the kids are getting bigger and older. The stress of school mornings was basically really getting to me. I was getting to the point of feeling physically stressed and sick by the time we got in the car and fed up to the back teeth of the same arguments and screaming fits. Other parents mist have thought I was the most miserable person in the world turning up at school , offloading my kids through the gate and then driving away leaving my kids in the care of the school. Its just that normal children behaviour with ADD added to the mix throws so much baggage at us from memory loss to impulsiveness add in some OCD, hearing loss and anxiety school mornings were a force to be reckoned with and I was losing.

With this in mind we finally made the decision to move our youngest two to a school in the village which will cut out the car journey as well as giving us an extra 30 minutes at home in the mornings to help with my daughters routine. Also my second eldest will start high school with her sister this year and suddenly I will have only two children from 8am onwards on a school morning!!! Of course there will still be the usual arguing, memory loss, anxiety and stress but hopefully nowhere near as much and the later start will give our daughter with ADD more time to get ready and do her own routine before we have to walk the 4 minutes to school. I can’t wait!!!I am always amazed by how quickly we get back into the swing of things come school term time and by how much I miss the school run.My School time tips to parents would be:

  • Children with special needs I have found as a parent need more time, rushing leads to more anxiety and stress for both us and them. Start your routine a little earlier if needs be. Our daughter gets up at 5am whereas I am not an early bird but I have come to realise she needs this extra time in the mornings.
  • If changing schools talk to your child as much as possible about it. Mention it at every opportunity. They may get annoyed but I find it acclimatises them.
  • Try to drive or walk by the school a few times so they get use to the school run and know where they are going. Our daughter especially feels less anxious if she knows where she is going and how long it will take. You can do this even if they are staying at the same school so that they don’t forget where it is.
  • If its a particularly bad morning don’t worry about being late. I use to hate getting to school late but you won’t be the first or the last.

Enjoy the rest of your holidays together and good luck to all those starting new schools or starting school for the first time. To follow our journey please see http://www.leannesihm.wordpress.com

take care

x Leanne x

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ADD….so what now mum?

For parents starting out on their journey with a disability I would say:

  • Grill your paediatricians, doctors, sensory support for as much information as you can
  • Try and have a list of questions when you go to appointments in case you forget to ask something that has been bugging you. Type them in your phone or jot them down as and when you think of them. It’s hard to keep on top of them I know but it could make a difference.
  • Take each day as it comes, there will be good and bad days you have to accept this and it’s hard, really hard!!!!
  • With ADD pick your battles….this is a really hard one to do, you feel you can’t give in
  • Take some me time!!!! It’s hard but having some down time wether it’s a walk, going out or getting lost in a book we need to try and do something for ourselves and recharge our batteries. I tried for so long just to get on and be a parent but eventually realised it does not make me a bad mother to say help I need some rest and relaxation!!!
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help….again another difficult one especially when faced with people who do not understand your child’s behaviours and needs but on the flip side if we do not give them that chance to interact and experience it themselves how are they ever going to understand

One thing I think is true of parents who raise children with special needs and disabilities is the constant effort to do what is best for your child and sometimes these decisions can upset the normal routines and daily life.

ADD has taught me so much in the last 8 years and its teaching me a lot more as the months, years go on. 

No one child is ever the same and I think that is certainly true with children who have ADD. Every child has their own quirks, breaking points, triggers. No one child has the same symptoms but an array of them making them unique. We as parents have to learn how to adapt to take care of these children. There is no training manual its a case of trial and error!!! Its always interesting and helpful to speak to other parents for support, advice and just for someone that understands what you are going through. Facebook groups are a good place to start.

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Elements of ADD will cause you frustration, heartache, anger and you may feel like you are on an emotional rollercoaster. Memory problems for me cause me the most headaches and moments of sheer annoyance and anger and tears. I struggle as I am really an organised person to understand some days why my child forgets. Other days I feel sad for the things she looses and events she doesn’t understand as she has forgotten them.  A diagnosis of anything is no picnic and is never a simple cut and dry case. Just because you can’t see a disability does not mean its not there.

 I do blame myself as a parent for the way my children are….. Its easy to isn’t it?

It’s not my fault I know, but some days when feeling low in myself it is easy to play the blame game.We parents put ourselves through so much. We tackle parenthood head on and do everything we can to make sure our babies grow and thrive. The day we parents get our children’s diagnosises can be the worst. For me being told my daughter had hearing loss at 2 and ADD at 7 were days that I don’t really remember much about. They are lost to me in a haze all I remember doing is crying and then getting on and parenting as best as I could.

At the end of the day remember we are all super Mums and super Dads. In the eyes of our children we are their superheroes no matter what the days, months and years ahead bring. For all the love in the world raising our children to be loved and accepted is in my view what it’s all about. Yes I get angry and frustrated but the milestones my children complete and the characters they are will never ever make me think for one second that I wish life had been different. Our children are who they are and we have this amazing job ❤️

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Please feel free to get in touch
Xx Leanne xx
http://www.marshamholistictherapy.co.uk

Taking ADD and Anxiety on Holiday……..

As I sit here writing I almost want to keep the last week to myself. Going on holiday with children can be fun, stressful and tiring. Going on holiday with a child with ADD can make being at home seem like heaven. But we have had significantly more good moments this last week than bad. 

Even though I try not to when planning a holiday I have to weigh the pros and cons of how it will affect my daughter. Going abroad for us is not a possibility. Being so far from home would cause more upset than it’s worth and be a huge waste of money. So we holiday in Great Britain. 

For the past few years we have gone a little further every time. Right now we are on the bank of Loch Ness and what a magical place it is. The journey here was split with a two night stay at a site in Gretna green. This enable us to rest as well as help our daughter with anxiety. Travelling with her is the worse, even short car journeys so why did we decide to come to Scotland!! I hear you ask? Simple….we adapt so much of our lives to living with disabilities that sometimes I feel like I just want to wish them away and try and be ‘ normal’ I know there is no such thing as normal, it’s just sometimes I don’t want to not go somewhere or do something because of our daughters disabilities. It’s all part of my mantra for wanting them to experience what the world has to offer!!! To not be held back, and to not be defined by their disabilities, as a parent this is getting harder everyday. A few times this week I have thought what the hell am I doing! Am I gluten for punishment? 

Why do I have these stupid ideas?……….But for me it’s the magical memories holidays like this can make!!!

I have mad ideas for the memories they make

While planning this holiday there was also that fear of being beside a body of water and the hills and crags that surround us. What would happen if our daughter got impulsive and fell of somewhere😱, how would we cope mentally being on edge all of the time near water and up high? but again how much do you change what you do to suit the symptoms of ADD/ADHD?? For me my daughter is just as much at risk of jumping of Cromer pier than she is of tumbling down Foyers falls. It’s about keeping on the ball and reacting quickly to any meltdowns and anxiety attacks. It has been far from easy with a refusal to eat as much as she needs to, tantrums, swearing, hitting out I feel her behaviour has hit an all time low. It’s like she turned 10 at the beginning of July and since then we have been on a downward spiral. 

Surprisingly though I have felt more able to cope with it this week. Dad is here and while she is more attached to me he has made a huge impact on how much she has taken her anger out on me physically. She dosnt care how much it hurts to be hit, or pelted with a stick because she has to walk a little further up the hill. The arms crossed head down pose has been adopted quite a lot this week but do you know what? We made it a whole 7 days with 4 kids, a dog and husband 😂 we didn’t go home early (our usual trick). 

So all in all its amazing here! Where is here? 

Camping and caravan club Loch Ness shores Inverness-shire 

All set up

What a place!! I almost want to keep it secret so no one else comes here. We arrived on Monday and instantly I fell in love. Nestled right on the shore the site has amazing views and lots of space. Ideal for those with hyperactivity. Being nestled quite nicely in the surrounding nooks and crags Loch Ness shores is a stones throw away from amazing walks taking you up to Foyers falls, rope swings galore and beach side campfires where you can sit and Nessie watch. It’s amazingly dog friendly too so we could bring our Labrador poppy.

 The site itself has a quaint little shop with your essentials…including marshmallows for those beach side fires! They also have tables where you can sit and plan your day, read or play games. We haven’t this time around but next time we will definitely be renting some kayaks and actually get on the water or if that’s not your thing they also have some small motor boats just perfect for doing a little water side exploring. There’s a small airstream diner offering breakfast, lunch and dinner for those who would like a break from cooking…..the sausage and egg roll we had yesterday morning was divine. There is also a huge, clean and accessible amenities block with toilets, showers, washing machines and a tumble dryer. My daughter likes to come and help fill and empty the machines. I think this is more to do with the fact there is the hum from the machines and it’s a small room ideal for getting away from everything for 10 minutes.  While stood waiting a quiet sense of calm comes over you. There is also a play park for the children, mine have spent most evenings there before bed playing and making friends with other campers. 

On the shore of Loch Ness

Out and about Inverness is about 40 minutes by car and again with so much scenery to see our daughter coped quite well. Once there there’s so much to see and do. We went on a boat trip with dolphin spirit. Sadly the Dolphins were hiding this time but the girls enjoyed their time on board and there was activities for Louisa to do on board like colouring, animal spotting so she stayed entertained. We also went to a very quaint and quirky free titanic museum.  Inverness itself has all the shops you would find at home. We didn’t really explore all that much as our daughter didn’t feel comfortable walking round a strange town. Next time we will….

Culloden  battlefield was a interesting walk. We didn’t pay to go in the exhibition as it would have been for us personally a waste of money. Our daughter can’t seem to hold her attention and concentration and I felt it would have been a sensory overload this time around as it was also quite busy.  The battlefield itself was free to walk. Dogs on leads allowed which was perfect for us. We walked round and discovered the clan stones (Fraser for the outlander fans :). Louisa was a little worried as we were walking around and her anxiety was high but open space, fresh air, history and free….as a parent what more could you wish for.

With so much to see and do we have hardly had anytime for story massage which is not like us at all. Once the bedtime medicine has been given to Louisa all of the girls have been asleep within minutes. Must be the pure, fresh air and running and walking we have been doing, needless to say it won’t continue when we get home it never does ha ha instead we have been jotting down ideas for a Scottish holiday story massage. This is what we came up with….

Down on the shore of the loch

Taking a trip to the loch (walk)

Wonder if Nessie’s about (claw)

We walk we run we play (wave)

Down on the shore of the loch (calm)
The waves go up and down. (wave)

The birds fly round and round (circle)

The clouds go floating by (wave)

Down on the shore of the loch (calm)
We love to paddle and play (walk)

In this beautiful magical place (circle)

And roast our marshmallows (bounce)

Down on the shore of the loch (calm)

The Brown family 2016

Speaking of massage, mummies and daddies if you do come this way to the Highlands (and I highly recommend that you do) check out www.libraholistics.com The owner Lindsay is a lovely, friendly local therapist right on the campsites doorstep. Literally as you walk out of the site you are there 😊 Offering a range of treatments Lindsay offers tranquility and relaxation. The treatment room is relaxing and inviting and adds to the whole experience.  In keeping with my mantra of how we should all have some relaxation massage is a definite must for those of us caring for disabled children. I had a back,shoulder and neck massage. Sleeping in a caravan does have its drawbacks 😀 but after the massage I felt much calmer, relaxed and ready for the long trip home a couple of days later. 

Now the reality is that we are going home. Dad is going back to work and for 8.5 hours a day I am going to be on my own. It’s daunting!!!! In truth it brings an almost sick feeling to my stomach. How will I cope? How will I entertain the children? I am also trying to start the next step in my career as a holistic therapist, how will I cope juggling children, ADD and coursework?

Watch this space…… Take care all, enjoy your time with the children, make magical memories even on bad days and try to make time for yourselves I know I will and remember your not alone!!!!

X Leanne x