Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Back to School Routines

This time next week, we'll be hearing all about how the first day of school went. As that day fast approaches, Steve and I are trying to figure out our work schedules. We'd like to try to find a balance this year that lets us both be actively involved in Jonas's school routines and activities. We got a taste of it at the end of last year, but the luxury of summer break saw us drift away from routines that will work with the school schedule. Ideally, we'd like to both do a few morning drop-offs and afternoon pick-ups every week. It's important that overseeing Jonas's school life be a partnership between us. It's more rewarding for us that way, more beneficial to Jonas, and it also helps spread out the frustration.

The school + ADHD combo isn't easy. There are a number a challenges that require a great deal of attention on a daily basis. We made a great deal of progress after Jonas' diagnosis in November. Changing schools was a difficult but important step for him. His current school is smaller and more intimate, and they've made key accommodations for him, including creating an Individual Education Plan (IEP) that seemed to work very well for the final third of Grade Two. We're thrilled that he'll have the same teacher this year. She's been wonderful with him and we've all developed a good relationship with her, as well the other teachers he interacts with. We're confident that the lines of communication with the school are strong, and that goes a long way to easing my anxiety over the year ahead.

On the home front, managing homework is the biggie. While we've found ways to make his reading, speech and fine motor skills practice fun, but he hates doing traditional reading, writing and math homework. Even when we try to make it fun, he doesn't buy-in. In fact, he often has a fit and, frankly, it can be traumatic. Over the past couple of years it's become something that we all dread. So much so that we completely avoided it over the summer. He didn't journal, he didn't send thank you cards for his birthday presents and he didn't write letters to follow-up his summer visits. (Yes, I know we've only made it harder for ourselves and no, I don't expect a Mom of the Year Award this year either.)

We're gearing up for a way to get back into a homework routine in a new healthy way. We need to find a way to make it fun, or at least make it tolerable, so we can get through it without all the tears and frustration. I'm soliciting new ideas and suggestions, stocking up on supplies, and this weekend we're going to create a new homework space that will hopefully help us to create a new vibe. A bigger, less cluttered desk with an exercise ball for a chair. Funky pencils, erasers, ruler, scissors and notebooks. A new CD player and instrumental music. A new stress ball. A big calender to match his school agenda. A funky clock. These are all things I hope will help. If you can think of any more, please let me know!

I still have a lot to learn about parenting, and about coping with ADHD, but one thing I have learned is that patience, creativity and communication are three of the most important skills we have to call upon to meet it all head-on. 


Monday, August 29, 2011

Going "Back to Work"

Going "back to work" has been a tough adjustment for us. I used to spend most of my day with Jonas, and at dinner time we would reconnect with Steve and Tasha. (While she still lived with us that is. That's a story for another blog entry.) Throughout the summer, I've rarely see them awake in the morning, and now it's me who catches up with them at dinner.  I'm still not used to it.

As kids do, Jonas is getting older, and as he does, he's becoming more opinionated. He's also on meds for ADHD which makes him more aware of what's going on around him and more prone to speaking out when things don't seem right to him. Both of these things are completely natural, and we do want him to grow up to be confident and able to speak his mind. The secret to that, of course, is figuring when and how to speak your mind, and when to keep your opinion to yourself. Sometimes,  I guess I'm just in a rush. I wish we could skip the learning process. I wish he'd say "Ok Mom and Dad" more often and give up the fight so that we can get on with the next great moment.

One of the things I've noticed is that I seem to have less patience now. Maybe it's because I have less time with Jonas during the day, or maybe it's because Steve and Jonas have more time together, but find that I'm more demanding of my time with them. We have less time together to smooth things out so, when things get bumpy, I get frustrated faster.

Steve and Jonas are spending more time together, and they are developing a much closer relationship, which I love, That also means that they find themselves in conflict more often. I have to bite my tongue not to intervene and over-parent Steve, and let them work it out on their own.

When Jonas and I have hit a rough moment, I lose my temper quicker. I feel horrible about that, like I'm failing him. I hope I'm wrong. Maybe it just seems that way because I'm more sensitive to those moments of tension when our time feels so limited. I hope that the trade-off is that I'm becoming better at conflict resolution because of the tighter timelines.

I don't know. I do know that whatever happens this fall, the one thing I know for sure is that I've got to tap into more patience!


Saturday, August 27, 2011

Back to School Dread

Back to school fills me with dread this year. The closer we get to it, the more anxious I'm becoming. This is the first year that I won't be "home" during the day to actively manage it all.  I'm stressed trying to think of ways to keep everything on track. There's just so much to figure out to make it a successful year. I fear that the changes are going to mean a tough transition for all of us.

It's been a pretty good summer. We're still struggling to find better ways to manage Jonas's ADHD, and the looming demands of school heighten my stress about that. Sleeping, eating, school, and childcare issues threaten menacingly, like the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, making me worry about all the worst case scenarios my brain can come up with.

I clearly need a plan! They say the best way to eat an elephant is one bit at a time, so I started by buying a daily agenda book. School assignments, work schedules, meal plans, extracurricular activities, household chores, social engagements, etc, all can be captured in the book. It will live on the kitchen counter and hopefully help keep us all on the same page and moving in the right direction. Hopefully.


Friday, August 26, 2011

Time for a New Vintage

Hello friends!

It's been far too long since I last blogged. I started this blog to help me as a woman, a "stay at home" mom, the mom of a son with ADHD, and as a mom transitioning back into a traditional "job". It was great therapy for me, but it didn't last long. As I got deeper into life and the changes it brought, I reverted back to the mom I used to be,  the one I didn't want to be anymore when I left the corporate world - the one who feels constantly over-stretched, who's desperate to make the most of every moment she can with her family, struggling to live up to her cherished commitments,  and trying to do it all to the exclusion of herself. I don't want to feel that way anymore.

As fall approaches, I find myself growing increasingly anxious. We have a lot of adjusting to do. The way we used to do things just isn't going to work anymore. We have to figure out totally new routines for before and after school, homework, bedtime, family time, Scouts, volunteer time and time with friends and family. In the midst of it all, I have to make time for myself so that I don't feel stretched to the point of snapping all the time. I adore my family and am committed to my volunteer work, but I also need time for me, my friends and my self-development. I'm a better mom, wife and person when I do.

That's where this blog comes in. I'm going to start carving out time for blogging every day. I'm going to use it as a journal to sort through my thoughts and feelings about life, including helping me work toward my goal of not losing myself to all the things I feel compelled to do. I'm going to count on you, my village, to help me stay on track.

It's not going to be easy. I have so many thoughts running around my head that I need to organize, prioritize and make action plans for. I know I'll fall victim to over-committing myself, failing and starting over again. It might take a few tries to find a path that works but, with your help, I'll keep trying!