Sibling love, rivalry and life

The love and support of a sibling in my own life means so much to me. My sisters are always there no matter what, on good and bad days. Being the eldest of four, growing up there was no shortage of playmates and no chance for boredom. Now that we are older, there is always a shoulder to cry on, an ear to rant to and support whenever we need it. This bond has been an important part of my life and without I honestly don’t think I could have managed in the early days of having children and going through diagnosis. 

Sibling Awesomeness

Looking at my own four children it’s easy to see the amazing bond that they all share. Even with the range of disabilities they have, they are always there to love, support and annoy each other as only siblings can. Life is interesting to say the least. Each with their own individual needs they somehow come together. They are always there supporting each other when the need arises from cuts, bumps and bruises to just spending some quiet time together reading, drawing and story massaging… well, until the arguments start!

My eldest daughter, age 13, has a hearing loss which she lived with for five years before diagnosis. She is the rock of the bunch, always trying to help her sisters anyway that she can. Sometimes I feel that she takes on the motherly role too much and that she grew up too quickly but she’s always the peacemaker and will spend hours with her sisters playing games and make believe. There is no shortage of imagination in the family!

With two fellow sisters both also having a hearing loss, M is increasingly becoming my own little guru in understanding how my other two daughters may be feeling. As she says, “been there done that mummy, maybe this could help?” She tries to support them in the maintenance of their own hearing aids now that they are older, and takes great pride in being able to show her sisters the correct way to clean her aids. She also loves to cheer her sisters up by baking them cakes and letting her sisters help. This leaves me with an upside down kitchen but the result is always the same: happy, cakey children.

My second eldest daughter, age 12, is your typical teen and finds family life hard. She has no disabilities and can become frustrated with her sisters. I have been told that she has an old head on young shoulders but the truth is that she wears her heart on her sleeve and finds the noise levels and challenges of ADHD hard to navigate. But she is amazing at writing stories, poems and songs and will think nothing of writing amazing Story Massages which she then shares with her sisters. C will spend time using story massage and sharing what she has written with the whole family. C also loves to play on the trampoline with her sisters and they will literally be outside giggling like mad for hours. What she lacks in patience she more than makes up in love and the ability to cheer up people. 

Our third daughter has hearing loss and ADHD. Life is a challenge and having someone who is forgetful, inattentive and impulsive can cause a huge strain on the whole family dynamic. Not to mention the OCD which can see her rearranging her room daily and also trying to rearrange her sisters’ bedroom, but her sisters have now learnt to embrace this side of L as they have realised that they do not then need to tidy their own bedroom up! This said she is our cheeky monkey, who on a good day will spend time gardening with her younger sister, trying to help anyone who needs it. 

My youngest, aged seven, also has hearing loss. This one is the cheekiest of the bunch and she is able to bring a smile to anyone’s face even in the darkest of moments. Life viewed on the outside can seem harsh for my youngest as she has to compete with three older sisters, but she never fails to amuse. Always the prankster she can help diffuse an argument with her funny faces and voices which help to keep us smiling. She doesn’t offer much in the way of support to her sisters as yet but I’m sure as the years progress she will find her niche. 

Life with four children may seem daunting to some but to me it’s awe-inspiring. Living with these little people who overcome so much to get where they are makes me proud. Of course like most siblings there is rivalry, arguments, and full on catfights, but there’s also laughter, love and support. 

The bond that they all share is one I hope they will cherish for life. 
XX Leanne XX

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

family fund – the big tea party

A ” Tea Party ” 

Everybody loves cake wether it’s chocolate, lemon or Victoria sponge. Whats yours? personally I am partial to a slice of lemon cake. So the all important question is going to be do you want tea or coffee with your cake?

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On February 11th 2016 the Family Fund are organising a huge Tea Party involving people across the country. We are raising funds so that the Family Fund can help even more families across the uk.

The Family Fund even though they are funded by uk government, private donations etc still need and rely on the great fundraising efforts made by countless people. The Tea Party is just one way that you could help at home or at work.

Firstly what is the family fund I hear you say…. well its an organisation that

  • Since 1973 has helped thousands of families who are raising a disabled or seriously ill child
  • One of the uk’s biggest charities
  • Providing grants for items that could benefit families like washing machines, bedding, clothing, sensory toys, family breaks
  • By providing a wealth of information to families on other help and services that are/could be available to them locally,regionally or nationally

Families who raise a disabled child have many challenges. Some more so than others. We juggle hospital appointments, pay for childcare or after school/breakfast clubs so that we can make appointment times on time. Those of us who work have to sometimes take unpaid days off to attend appointments. We parents administer medication, we care for our children as a parent and as a carer.

The family fund was introduced to us two years ago by our sensory support teacher of the deaf. At the time we were struggling emotionally as a family with a lot of ups and downs. The family fund has a wealth of information but most of all as a family we have benefitted immensely from this amazing charity. We were lucky enough this year to be one of the 72,000 families that the family fund helped. We needed a new bigger washing machine. Due to mediation at night-time our daughter has nights of wet bedding. Our old machine was not coping and we were having to sometimes go elsewhere to get the quilts washed. A new larger washing machine which we can fit a singled sized quilt into wash has been a god send. Find out more at http://www.familyfund.org.uk

I along with countless others will be hosting my very own Tea Party at home with friends and family…. So raise your cuppa and eat your cake and donate. Join us in helping to make a difference.

xx leanne xx

http://www.familyfund.org.uk/fundraisers/leannes-fundraising-bake

Mum, carer, holistic therapist and blogger