Waving My White Flag…

Before anybody draws conclusions on my title, no I am not giving up. I am, however, waving it for today. You see, my house started out clean (mostly). After the day’s activities, let’s just say Hurricane Matthew didn’t cause as much damage as Hurricane Rae has. I have couch cushions all over the floor. Folded clothes have been unfolded for the second time. A relatively clean bedroom has been littered with paper and markers. My kitchen has dishes scattered on the counters and in the sink.

Let me re-cap our day from wake up time til now. At 7:30 am, I was drinking my coffee on the porch while Rae jumped on a wet trampoline. At 7:45 I am walking around picking up the scattered toys in the yard from the past two days. At 8:00 we are coming in for Rae to get a bath since rain water isn’t clean and she feels “icky”. At 8:15 we are cooking scrambled eggs together. This leads to a discussion on baking something for dessert. (Dessert after breakfast is acceptable on rainy Saturdays in my opinion.) Our muffin mix didn’t require eggs (which had to be the main ingredient) so we settled on a chocolate cake mix. This was the calmest she has been all day. And let me just say, her cake turned out better than most of mine have because she had to tip toe so it wouldn’t crack. Apparently it’s okay if mine crack. While waiting on the cake to cool we went back outside (at about 9:45) to jump together on the trampoline. Keep in mind my house is still fairly clean at this point. I’m thinking, “Today is gonna be a good day! No meltdowns, no tantrums, just good times and fun.”

Fast forward a little to about 1:30 pm. We are in the checkout line at the grocery store. She doesn’t have my undivided attention because the register has frozen and I need to make sure my payment has gone through before leaving. She yells at me, she keeps picking up candy that they have strategically placed next to the card reader, and shoves back from the counter causing the buggy to roll into the path of other customers. I had a “moment” where I saw red. I popped her arm and (a little loudly) told her to stop. Cue the waterworks. I get glances of pity from the cashier, other customers pretend they didn’t see me pop her, and FINALLY my payment goes through. I rush out of the store while trying not to lose it on Rae. She knows what she did was wrong. She keeps apologizing through the tears until we hit sunlight. She fixes her attitude and sits quietly while I unload the groceries into the car. The ride home is relatively peaceful for what we just went through.

Skip a little farther ahead to around 2:30 pm. The munchies kick in and she’s eating anything and everything she can get her hands on. I have a pack of ham that has maybe two pieces left in it. A bag of cereal is half gone. The ice-cream carton has clearly seen better days. At 3:00 pm the hunger wave passes (for now). This is when Hurricane Rae hit my living room. I gave up on the never-ending cycle of picking up the cushions. Most have found their way back to the couch when she decides she wants to sit in a different place. I have a soaked towel on the kitchen floor from her “Wet Head” game. A wooden spoon is resting next to the tv from where she was using it as a magic stick. (Thanks, Wallykazam!) And here it is a little after 4:00 pm. She is perched on the couch watching Blaze while I type away on here. Finally the quiet time has come. We both need it to face the remaining few hours before bedtime.

My house will get cleaned. The toys and cushions will get put back in their place. We will mess the kitchen up again while cooking dinner together. For now, I’m going to enjoy cartoons with my kid. I may wave my white flag every now and then, but I enjoy every bit of this wild ride.

**This is an un-medicated day for Rae. They have been better and they have been way worse. We are working as a team to make life easier for her one step at a time. If you see me in the grocery store (or anywhere else for that matter) looking like I haven’t brushed my hair that morning and wearing yoga pants with a tee, this is the route we have chosen to try for that day: non-medicated.

Manage Your Child’s ADHD

When Rae was diagnosed with ADHD I knew what I was up against. Like I said before, I tried every other possible solution before deciding on medication. Even then I was very straight-forward with the pediatrician about the route I was comfortable taking. (No, I don’t have. a medical background. Yes, I have loads of experience with child development and early education. But even all that schooling and classroom experience doesn’t prepare you for the daily battle of your child dealing with ADHD.) People are quick to judge a child’s actions and call them bad or uncontrollable. People see the parent struggle (for example, in the grocery store) to get their kid to stay close by or respectful of the people around them. What they don’t see is the underlying cause. Rae struggles with impulse control. It was our hardest battle in her pre-k school year. I expect it will be again in kindergarten. What have I done to try to help her manage her ADHD? Lots of research, persistence, hard days, and trial and error.

Here’s some of what I’ve done:

  1. Predictable routines- In our household this includes meal times, bedtime, what happens on which day…if by some chance we have something come up in our day that isn’t usually there, we talk it out. A sudden change in plans leads to a full length conversation of whys, hows, and what’s going to happen. I do my best to keep our weeks planned out. Life happens sometimes and throws a wrench in those plans. There are days where this leads to an all-out meltdown, but we deal. Deep breaths, calming techniques and toys, and even just taking a break to walk outside can be a lifesaver!
  2. Clear expectations- Rae knows what I expect of her. This includes behavior, chores, school, church, etc. We are still working some (ok, lots of) kinks out, but it’s slowly getting easier. The older she gets the easier it has become for her to understand why something is expected of her. And if she doesn’t comply, it’s dealt with in an appropriate manner. She chances losing her toys, tv time, or her ice-cream after dinner. (That ice-cream gets her attention every time.)
  3. Diet- This one sounded crazy to me at first. This was a “trial and error” area for us. The first thing I researched was the Feingold Diet. Long story short, this was expensive…Do you know how hard it is to find foods that don’t include XYZ in a small town?? I wanted to pull my hair out. This is where I decided to A) eliminate the red dyes, B) cut out some of her gluten, and C) increase her protein. I can’t begin to explain how much of a difference I saw simply by removing red dyes from her diet. When she gets a red sucker or juice now, you better hang on. For Rae, it proved to have an effect equivalent to that of a soda.
  4. Take care of yourself!- The hardest one for me…I was the mom that does for her kid before anything else. If she couldn’t sleep, I didn’t sleep. If she decided blue pants wouldn’t work that day, I’d scavenge to find the brown ones. Not so much anymore. We pick her outfits for school the night before. If her insomnia rears it’s ugly head, I’ll doze next to her on the couch while she watches tv or draws. It’s not me being a bad mom. It’s handling a situation in a way that I won’t be rushed or dragging around the next day. YOU have to be healthy in order to keep your child healthy. Take time for yourself. Do things for yourself. A long, hot bath never hurt anybody. 🙂
  5. (Last one) Remind, ReMiNd, REMIND!!!- Even as an adult who doesn’t suffer from ADHD, I have notes and post-its everywhere. I need to be reminded of how to do things and when to do them. How can I expect Rae to remember if I don’t give an occasional reminder? This goes for more than just routines. Think about consequences. If Rae takes a toy that isn’t hers, she knows she will have to face the music. It’s tied in with her lack of impulse control. Sometimes she takes things that don’t belong to her, and she needs a gentle reminder that it isn’t right, and that she will have to return it and apologize. Some might view this as shaming because she gets embarrassed, but it’s not. It’s teaching her right from wrong. And if she gets embarrassed from me making her do the right thing, then maybe she will remember that feeling if she wants to take something else.

On top of all of that ^ we have to remember that our child is always watching us. We are their biggest influencer. Set a positive example. Model the behavior you want to see in your child. FOLLOW THROUGH with what you say you are going to do! I can’t stress that one enough. Empty promises and consequences are remembered very clearly. Give positive reinforcement and feedback. Create a support system for your child and yourself. I have an amazing family and group of friends to fall back on. They have all supported every single decision I have made for Rae, and will continue to do so. That’s not to say I haven’t had to explain some reasons for doing things, but it helps when they are open to trying them also.

This turned out wayyyyy longer than I intended, but I hope it helps!

Reference: 

http://www.helpguide.org/articles/add-adhd/attention-deficit-disorder-adhd-in-children.htm

 

“Rae” of Sunshine

I’ve noticed more this past weekend than I normally do that people seem uncomfortable when Rae brings up her dad. It’s been almost two years since he passed away, and her little mind still remembers him clearly. Here’s a little of what her conversations with others sound like:

Rae: My daddy died in a four-wheeler accident.

Person: Oh, ok…(while slowly nodding and glancing at me uncomfortably.)

Rae: But he’s still with me and in my heart. He helps keep me safe.

Person: Yep…that’s right…(while still nodding and glancing uncomfortably.)

I get that it’s not an easy topic to discuss with a child, much less any adult. But, it’s an open topic in our home. She knows only the details that she needs to know and can understand. Does she know the graphic details of it? NO. Will she? When the time is right. If she brings him up to any of you, talk to her about him. It’s her healing process. She subconsciously needs to see that others remember him also. If you didn’t know him personally, then just listen. An uncomfortable glance at me and an attempt to change the subject is not necessary. She’s proud of her daddy and wants the world to know it.

Now, on to how his death has affected her…it is very hard for her to completely open up to anybody. She doesn’t get attached to just anybody. I have friends that were together for around a year before she decided that it was okay to open up to the (now) husband in that relationship. And it’s not just with males. She’s hesitant with women, children, and even animals. Sometimes she opens up quicker than others. It just depends on how she feels and the environment she’s in. She’s not being rude. She’s definitely not shy. She’s guarded. She’s felt the pain of losing someone she loves way too soon. Some of you may not agree with the fact that we talk about him on almost a daily basis, but I’ve come to realize that it’s what she needs.

Her innocence is the reason I’ve managed so well. She sees things in a different light than I do because she doesn’t see the down side of it. She’s perfectly happy with the idea that her daddy is happy, safe, and in her heart. She has no clue how she helps me to see the positives in any situation. She will always be my “Rae” of sunshine.

A question for you: Why does the topic of death seem so much harder when discussed with a child than with an adult? How do you approach the topic with your own children?

ADHD = Injury Prone?

I was browsing internet articles today trying to find some new techniques to try with Rae before the upcoming school year, and saw one that contained the following passage:

“Children with ADHD are injured more often than other children. They often need to go to hospital, for example with head injuries or broken bones.They often bang into objects or other people. They often climb and jump off furniture.”

ADHD in Preschool and Kindergarten Children – AboutKidsHealth.ca

It got me thinking. How many accidents and injuries has Rae had that could have been because of her lack of impulse control or just not paying attention to what she’s doing? We’ve had no major (ER visit) injuries, but we have had quite a few minor ones. Bumps and bruises are a very common occurrence for any child. If her legs aren’t covered in them from her being “Miss Grace” then its a good day. I can only think of one in the past five years that has sent us to the doctor. This particular doctor would be the chiropractor.

Long story short, a distraction while swinging pretty high can be a very bad thing. Rae was swinging on the playground and somehow forgot she needed to hold on to the chains. I was sitting only a few yards away and watched it all unfold in slow motion. I saw her tilt back,  her hands go up in the air, and her falling head first towards the ground. I was halfway to her by the time she hit the ground. She landed in the way that Rob Dyrdek would describe as a lawn chair. The back of her head hit first and she just kind of folded up after. Her toes touched the ground by her head. I am kind of thankful that she landed on sand instead of the hard rubber mat under the swing. I cleared the pipe going around the swings like an Olympic hurdle jumper and picked her up. Yes, I know I shouldn’t have moved her until after checking her, but I panicked. I looked her over, gave her an icepack and some Tylenol, and watched her closely until I could get her an appointment at Dr. Rea’s. I refused to let her nap or jump all over the place like she normally would.

They worked us in at the end of their day and ran some tests on her. X-rays were done, and scans on her nerves and muscles. The inside looked way worse than what she was showing on the outside. She whined with a little pain, but the scans were showing results that were off the charts. She ended up hurting four areas in her neck and back, but nothing that couldn’t be fixed with some gentle adjustments. I’m glad no one is in the room except for us and Dr. Rea for these, because having your five-year-old adjusted while laying on your stomach is an amusing sight. (Still not sure why she won’t lay on the table.) Each adjustment starts with her stretching out on me, turning her head to the side, and saying “Mommy, I love you”. This makes it all worth the struggle of getting her up there with me. (She’s not the smallest five-year-old. She’s half my height and weighs a solid 48 pounds.)

SO, do I think her being accident prone is connected to her having ADHD? It probably plays a role, but she gets her clumsiness from her mama… 🙂 And I admit that proudly because there’s not much she gets from me! Yes, we still have a long way to go, but I think her being fearless and me realizing that she has to learn the hard way has me somewhat prepared for when the big ones do come. Until then, we will just enjoy the days one at a time.

Have a great weekend!!

I’m your mommy, not your maid!

This won’t be a long post, promise. 🙂

I’ve come to realize over the past few days of staying home with Rae that she wants everything done for and handed to her…literally. She can be laying in her bed with her cup on the table next to her, and will still call for me to come hand it to her. That isn’t how this mommy-daughter relationship is going to work. My motto for about two weeks now has been “I’m your mommy, not your maid”. Show of hands, how many parents can relate?? All of you? I didn’t think I was alone in that struggle.

Here is how I have been TRYING to correct this behavior: After breakfast this morning she asked for another cup of milk. She was laying in her bed with her empty plate and cup on the table next to her. I stood in her doorway and simply told her that when she brought her dishes to the kitchen that I would refill her cup and she could take it back to her room. I was ignored. I turned around to walk out, and she asked again if she could have more milk. I repeated my request and walked to the kitchen without hesitation. Five minutes later (with her constantly calling me) she decides to bring her dishes to the sink and hand me her cup. (Small success!) Here’s where things changed. She then ran back to her room, jumped on her bed, and called for her cup of milk. *sigh*

I will take the small victory, but we are still going to have to work on waiting for what is requested. The remaining weeks of summer may just run me ragged…

SO, I ask each of you: How do you handle the “I’m your mommy / daddy, not your maid” situations?

This is us!

So, it took me a while to decide on a topic for my blog. I figured what would be better than some insight into our ADHD world? My daughter was diagnosed at only 4 years old. I had my suspicions that this was coming, but I was hoping to avoid medication at such an early age. No such luck. With the support of her pre-k teachers and pediatrician, we took the route that felt like the best fit for her.

I do not see myself as a mom that depends on my daughter’s medication to get through the day, but in all honesty, it does make it easier when we have a rough start. She started out on 5mg of the extended release of Focalin. This journey started off as a fight with the insurance company. I researched and researched any and every method and medication out there for my kid. We used oils, supplements, you name it was tried it. Medication was a last resort. And, of course, the one I felt most comfortable with just happened to be one not easily approved for children under the age of 6. It took eight phone calls (just to her insurance company), three letters of reference from her teachers and doctor, and a month trial on the medication. This was a big risk for me as a single income household. If they still decided to deny it I would have to pay back the $200+ for the medication. My persistence and determination proved successful! I kind of think they just got tired of hearing from me. 🙂 It was not an easy task, and was very mentally exhausting, but so worth it. She thrived in school after starting it. The only side effect she had was a very hard let down when it was leaving her system. (That turned out to be another round of trial and error.)

With this medication came the task of getting her into behavioral and emotional therapy. This required an hour trip one way to her pediatrician’s office. (Small town life means very few resources close by.) We stretched this to every three weeks instead of every two. He helped to rule out depression and supported her diagnosis of ADHD. It was a great resource to have and a wonderful outlet for her. She was able to learn some additional behavior management skills, as well as discuss her feelings about her dad. From the time she started on Christmas break to the end of the school year, she morphed into a stronger child. My little girl was able to mostly control her outbursts. Some of them required talking her through it. She did much better than expected and we were released from him once school got out.

Now, back to that trial and error for her medication let downs…Hardest. Time. Ever…She cried. She screamed. She fell out in the floor with a fit at any given moment over the smallest things. This is when I took to asking other parents with ADHD children. I was told to give her sugar or caffeine. I was told to put her in a dark and quiet place. I was told to give her a tablet to distract her. Sugar was not going to happen. The dark and quiet place helped, but only while she was able to stay in it. The tablet isn’t something that I wanted her to become dependent on, so it was used for those times that we had no other option. Then I broke down and tried the caffeine. Coca Cola = NO. Diet Coke, however, was a life saver. She gets only a small amount when I notice her let down beginning. Luckily she is with me when this happens. I monitor her caffeine intake and it is very limited. If she goes somewhere else, I send the “required” amount with her and precise directions on the time she needs it. (No, I’m not a complete control freak.) There is no medical evidence of any of these techniques working better than any other. Her doctor is aware of her Diet Coke need and says “if it helps, then do it”. She does not try to weasel her way into getting other soft drinks from anybody else. She knows what she can and cannot have. I love that her self-care skills have expanded to this!

It just so happens that her well child check-up falls in the time frame for her six month meds check-up. Her medication does make her lose her appetite, so a hearty breakfast before taking it is a must. She also gets a high protein snack in the afternoon. I was very adamant that she wouldn’t lose weight and have to be taken off of the only thing that has helped her. Her growth chart is proof that we are on the right track. She is a very healthy 5 year old! Her pediatrician looked at notes from the end of the school year and asked some questions from a check list. This all showed that she could possibly benefit from a dosage increase. She is now on 10mg of the extended release of Focalin. Different dosage led to different side effects. None major, but itchy ears and trouble falling asleep can be hard to deal with for a kid. She gets 5mg of Melatonin about thirty minutes before bedtime and still has some difficulty. But she sleeps so well and all night. The itchy ears, we are monitoring those. No other itching or swelling, and Benadryl is not a good fit for her. That effect is way worse than a non-medicated ADHD day…we shall see where this goes. The dosage seems to be a good fit and she can focus so much better for a longer amount of time. (She is not medicated every day. If we stay home, she doesn’t get it. We work on other methods of self-regulation to hopefully wean her off of meds in a few years.)

I will be more than happy to share our journey more in depth with you! If you have any questions, please feel free to message me. This goes so much smoother for parents when there is a community you can rely on. Hope you all have a blessed day!

Nicole & Rae ❤

Here We GO!

Quick intro to my blog!

Ok, I know I am not the only single mom out there with struggles. And I don’t think my situation is unique, but I do believe that I can share my experiences and trials with y’all and we can help each other through tough times. My husband passed away when our daughter was a only three years old. That’s also the time for big changes in a child’s life. You start preparing for school, interest in extracurriculars show up, personalities are in full force…She is almost five now, and has blossomed into a strong, independent kid who has more smarts than she knows what to do with. I can only hope that me sharing my experiences with y’all will show you that you aren’t in this alone. It has been a long, hard road (and I’m just getting started). You don’t have to be a single mom to enjoy my blog. I want insight and tips from any parent that feels the need to share. Send me some topics! What do you want me to write about? I’m ready to hit the ground running! 🙂