Posted in Day in the life of a mom, Featured Inspiration, Ponderings about life, sensory processing disorder

High Expectations or Just a High Price?

Canva - Woman Wearing Brown Corduroy Coat Holding Mug While Sitting on Chair

In a very short period of time she, a polished and seasoned woman in a position of power, managed to step on the toes of multiple women who were merely trying their best to get with the program.

Was she trying to be rude? I mean, all of them were being perfectly pleasant.  They were just interrupting her plan for an unquestioned day, and she did not make any allowances.  Her way was the way she’d been running things for as long as some of them had been alive.  It wasn’t on her list to do to bring anybody up to speed.  Not even if they were paying her for her to share her expertise.

First, she expected them to have all the information necessary about the course, prior to the course.  When one wavy-haired lady did not receive a handout from a preparatory info packet and requested a copy, the director curtly replied, “You should already have yours.  They were mailed out previously.”

Taken a bit aback, the lady tried again, saying, “Well, I didn’t get one.  Do you have any extras I could have?”  To which the instructor replied, “I have my own copy that you cannot have,” and proceeded to ask all the others in the room if they received theirs.  This made the one with the request feel offended that not only was she not being believed, but the speaker was definitely attempting to show how she could not have failed to provide anything.

Then, at the next meeting, the instructor called on a chatty extrovert and asked her to produce a particular section of the info packet.  The gal went blank, surprised by the request, and was chided, “Why don’t you have it?  Don’t tell me it’s not with you.  It was given at the first meeting, which you were there for.” It took a while as the stunned woman leafed through her folder saying, “Yes, I was, but I don’t recall the part you are referring to.”  “You should have read it.  You signed a paper saying you did.”
“I signed it because I read it.  But I can’t remember it now nor can I find it, ma’am.”

This wasn’t the first time the instructor was brusque with her.  The day before when the smiling lady approached the speaker, she was abruptly told not to approach her before any sessions because all inquiries must be arranged through her secretary for after lectures.  Apparently, speaking before lectures would throw off the flow of the day.

If that weren’t enough to get the ladies a little ruffled, the older woman had the audacity to say to one girl, when asked to repeat something she said, that she would not, because the young lady should have been paying attention the first time.  In fact, the girl had been, but couldn’t keep up with the notes because of the speed of delivery.  Individuals who were consulting with each other on notes were reprimanded for disrupting class by talking.

One perplexed attendee, seeing multiple displays of abruptness from the communicator towards her audience, later sat at home after these few interactions and pondered, How can the instructor believe behaving this way would achieve positive results?  It is difficult to perceive that woman in a positive light when she displays little graciousness towards those coming to her for what her profession is supposed to provide–information and guidance. 

Yet, in her heart, she seems to believe she is giving them tough love for their own good. It’s as if she believes by providing the toughest wind in life, us oak trees will be stronger and better.  Like she knows what we need–to be whipped into shape.  We must conform, she thinks, and be better off by her tutelage!    

Those who stay for the course certainly do gain exemplary knowledge; the parade of past students provide proof.  How many will put up with her demands, and even feel proud of themselves for meeting her high expectations? How many creative minds does she shave down to a size that fits in the palm of her hand? Whatever you do, don’t color out of the lines…

“Mommy?” a little voice pulled the young mother from her musings.
“Honey, not now.  I’m finishing homework.  Ask me later.”
“But MOM! I’m hungry.”
Frustrated, the girl’s mom exhaled, “You should’ve eaten your oatmeal for breakfast like I told you to.”
“You didn’t give it to me.”
“Yes I did!  I heated the bowl up in the microwave” mom huffed. “Your brother ate his.  Why haven’t you eaten yours yet!?”
Just then, her son came into the room with is empty bowl, complaining  “Mom, the  annoying microwave’s still beeping.”

Beeping? Oh…    She had never taken the oatmeal out for her pint-sized little person because she had gotten lost in her thoughts about class.

Immediately, she felt remorse for her harsh tone.  She suddenly saw from her daughter’s perspective, and realized she had just done everything the instructor had done.  She had demanded timing be on her own terms, thrown the “should have” burden upon her daughter’s shoulders, and insisted she was right when in reality, she had forgotten the oatmeal herself.

Hmm…Turns out the instructor’s not the only one who could tweak a thing or two in her authority playbook, huh.

“I’m sorry, kiddo.  I was too grumpy in the way I talked to you. Forgive me?”

Canva - Strawberry on Table Top Near White Ceramic Bowl

 

 

 

Posted in Day in the life of a mom, DIY, Featured Inspiration, Kids Activity Ideas, minimalism, painting, Ponderings about life, Quick Project, sensory processing disorder

Is Boredom why Your Kids are Squabbling this Summer?

How’s your summer going, parents?  Staying sane and happy? It’s been a bit over a week since we got back from vacation, and I am still trying to get the laundry under control…But at least it’s off the couch today! When a mom’s got work to do, there’s nothing so irksome as squabbling kiddos, eh?!

As I try to be productive and get the house back in order, I’ve noticed that to minimize interruptions due to my kids’ arguments, I’ve got to nip their boredom in the bud! I’ll clarify that I believe there is a positive state similar to boredom, which is space for the mind to wander, get lost in imagination, and enjoy not having to do anything at all.  Having opportunity for that can be a very good thing because it leaves space for contentment without busyness.

The problem comes when you get restless and brooding boredom, that tension between pent-up energy and no appealing outlet for it, that often leads to inappropriate expressions.  So, your kids are home from school with you and you want to harness that energy constructively, without resorting to mesmerizing them with screens all day, right? What can you do to banish boredom?

My best boredom-busting tip and survival secret as a mom has been planning OUTSIDE TIME! Maybe it’s that the sensory diet is so rich–ambient noises of birds, the feel of the breeze, the colors and smells of flowers, etc., that seems to soothe tempestuous little people.  In fact, when my kids are in an emotional storm, I often give them an option to head out back to calm down…and it has yet to stop working.

Here’s a list of 4 easy ways you can beat boredom and add some outdoor magic to your summer days:

1.  Paint outside like a master (this is especially ideal for mommas who cringe at the idea of the mess that craft/paint projects can bring with them).  Have the kiddos wear old clothes and head outside with some finger paints and put up some big blank art pages (or recycle by using some newspaper or cardboard) on your fence or shed. (Make sure it’s washable of course.) 

 

 
2.  Picnic on your porch or in your backyard. Simple smoothies, watermelon or popsicle/ other snacks count, too. We do this frequently and my kids suggest it themselves often.  I love my covered patio swing because even when I’m worn out, my kids and I can go enjoy some shade and sit together as I rest with a cup of tea in my hands! They usually finish their snack up and scamper off to play nearby while I recharge.

3.  Schedule some Park time We keep revisiting a peaceful sandy spot near a river. It has a swing which appeals to my daughter, and my son loves digging in the sand or catching minnows with his über fun telescopic net!  You could combine #1 and park time for even more cool-mom points! It’s pretty easy to throw together sandwiches and carrot sticks plus yogurt tubes for al fresco fare. 

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4.  People, learn about your local historic landmarks! It’s fun!! My family loves history and actually going to historic spots really makes the books about long-past time periods come alive.  (BTW, no need for a gym membership in 1735.  Those buckets are HEAVY!)

 

Yesterday we found a free event called the Lavender Festival at Hancock’s Resolution, a farm established in 1733 that even included beekeeping education with a working apiary.  (Did you know a queen bee can lay up to 1,000 eggs if needed, and that the workers determine the sex of new bees by what they feed the queen?!)

 


But, if it’s a rainy day, remember you have indoor options too!  You got this! Go forth and carpe diem!

*I’ve used affiliate links for your convenience should you be interested in obtaining something I mentioned.  Commissions as an Amazon Affiliate member help me out as I provide free content for your enjoyment!  Thanks for stopping by!

Posted in Featured Inspiration, Mental Health, Quick Project, sensory processing disorder, Uncategorized

Summer Break: Parents, Don’t let it Break You!

Parents, need ideas to keep kiddos occupied so you don’t go insane…without micromanaging their every move this summer?  AND without them being glued to screens?  I’ll be honest…I was kind of dreading summer, until I remembered I’m in charge of the way things go, and if I determine to plan a fun summer, I’ll most likely get it!  Our family vacation will provide a change of scenery (and checking out dinosaur bones!) but after that, I know I will come back to our everyday reality, and when I do, I’m prepared!  I’ll share what we’re up to as we go along!

The key isn’t to smash a billion activities into the weeks during summer.  That will add stress (to mom, especially), even if you are keeping everybody occupied.  The solution is providing opportunities for self-led play, discovery, and creativity.  And I feel really lucky that my daughter received an ideal birthday gift for montessori-type fun just in time for summer!

This kinetic sand gets my vote for most amount of active playtime in one sitting!  So far, they’ve been playing with it more than any other toy or activity opportunity in our house.  This week since we’ve been back from our trip to Ohio over Memorial day (when we weathered a tornado), it’s been out by my kids’ own volition three days in a row, over an hour each day at a time, and for several hours yesterday morning! And it’s already been out this morning again!

My kids are 5 an 6, but I think it would be a hit for younger and older kids as well! I even like playing with it because it doesn’t leave a weird feeling on my hands like play dough can. 

It’s easy to sweep up if some falls on the floor (but if I’d thought to have them use a rimmed tray that wouldn’t have happened), no drying and gunking things up!  (In fact, another part of occupying themselves has been customizing it with glitter…and you know how glitter gets everywhere…and setting them loose with a cordless hand vac like this one:

Which of course with a lot of praise about their skill and thoroughness makes for a proud, happy kiddo…and mom.)  Check out the full kinetic sand assortment on Amazon if you want to see the different varieties…dino digs, sand castles, Paw Patrol, etc.!)

#Summerbreak #summeractivity #notbored

(*For your convenience, I’ve used affiliate links to the products on Amazon. Saves you time finding the product I’ve talked about, no extra cost if you purchase the item, and helps support me in creating more content!  Thanks so much!)

Posted in autism spectrum disorder, Mental Health, sensory processing disorder

Pursuing Autism Spectrum Disorder Diagnosis

When you realize that coping has not improved beyond a certain point for your child, and meltdowns that stress the whole family exhaustingly occur daily, it is heartbreaking not to have an immediate solution.  I’ve read book upon book hoping to find the key to ease my son’s struggle with spectrum and SPD/OCD behaviors.  There has been amazing growth in my understanding of how his brain works, which helps immensely in parenting, but I’ve realized that isn’t enough.  He needs more help than I can give him. 

So several months ago I decided to pursue a diagnosis for autism spectrum disorder.  We did the intake process for Kennedy-Krieger Institute for Autism Research and resources.  They called to say the wait list was 11 months out.  I don’t feel like our family has 11 months.  We’re struggling too much.  The constant stress is causing marital friction because we have no energy left for each other anymore.

A few months ago I called about 15 practitioners’ offices to see if they could help us reach a diagnosis.  I got ahold of a live person for about two of those calls.  They couldn’t help.  Maybe three called me back.  That’s when I got him signed up for Kennedy Krieger.   Waited to find out when we could have him assessed there.  After I heard about the wait time, I kept calling other places.  Thought I had a good option lined up, but they double booked, and I felt like that may not be a good sign, and called another 15 places.  Most called back and said they do not do diagnostics for children.

The ones who do work with kids and called back said the wait list is a few months out.  Because there are that many families struggling with spectrum disorders.  And it’s a hard journey.  It’s lonely.  The main caretaker gets burnt out.  The spouse gets burnt out because the one who stays at home is burnt out.

Not everyone understands.  You feel unsupported by those you would like support from but who question your intuition and the whole idea of autism.  If your kid does not present like Rain Man, your kid surely does not have autism, they think!  I want to tell them, “Guys, it’s a processing difference, and it’s a spectrum.  They can need little support and appear like other kids in classroom on the surface, but come home and have no more energy to hold it all together, and then let their frustration out where they feel safest.  Or they can need a lot of support and be nonverbal.  But both kinds of kids and their families can be in a lot of emotional distress because life is so hard with this disorder.”

But I don’t really have to be understood or to explain it at all to them. My job is to advocate for my child and get him and our family the care we need to do more than just survive.  And right now, it stinks big time, but I guess it’s just waiting for the nearest appointment date even if it feels too far away.  

 

 

Posted in Day in the life of a mom, Mental Health, sensory processing disorder

My Favorite SPD Books and Resources for Families

When my son began having disproportionately large meltdowns around the age of two over how things felt and big emotions, and in turn I was struggling to parent him well, figuring out how his mind works really helped me.  I read all these books and they helped me piece together the puzzle of my precious, smart, but inflexible and easily frustrated child.  I hope you can find encouragement and enlightenment in them as well! But first, check out this helpful checklist of common symptoms of SPD in age-specific groupings: https://www.understood.org/en/learning-attention-issues/child-learning-disabilities/sensory-processing-issues/sensory-processing-issues-what-youre-seeing

( These are affiliate links. As an Amazon Associates member, I hope to save you time searching for something I mention that you may find helpful, too.  If you make a purchase there is no extra cost to you, but it provides me with a small commission that helps me as I continue providing content for you! Thanks for your support!)

Posted in Day in the life of a mom, Mental Health, minimalism, saving money, sensory processing disorder

What everyday SPD looks like for my 3 and 5 yr olds…

My 5 yr. old son asked for another piece of pizza, a rare treat at our place since I am gluten-free and don’t usually have the energy to make it myself and avoid certain ingredients for my healthy eating standards.  He was so happy when I said sure…but when I gave it to him, he kind of stared at the piece and started to zone out as his face fell a little.

I asked him, “What’s wrong, hon?”  But I could have guessed.  You see, the pizza crust was not big enough for him to hold without getting sauce on his fingers.  The sauce went too far up.  And as much as he loves pizza, his desire to avoid that messy feeling is greater.  He knows he can wipe his hands on a napkin or wash his hands later, but he can’t do it.

I found myself thinking, Wow. He didn’t throw a fit!  He didn’t meltdown over it today! He didn’t cry or get angry!  That looks like progress to me!  And it is.  We’ve been working with him a lot about his responses.  To be frank, a lot has to do with me not getting upset with his particularities, which was hard at first because I grew up in a family where you weren’t allowed to be “picky.”  Then I married a “picky” person…but I see it’s not always about pickiness.  It can be about texture.  It can be about how tastes hit a person’s brain.  My son got a lot of the way his brain works from his dad.  They can’t deal with some fabrics (my husband won’t wear “scratchy” wool sweaters, or cotton sweaters that aren’t soft enough).  Not only are some things like that a turn-off or irritating, it can just plain overwhelm them, because of how their brains magnify, misinterpret, or translate a sensation.  I can see now they’re not “spoiled” or “bratty” because they choose not to flood their brains with highly unpleasant feedback.

The fact that my son got a little sad about not feeling like he could enjoy the pizza he was anticipating so much makes me want to figure out ways to help him cope with his SPD more.  Because sometimes, you can’t change the way things are.  But in this case, it was an easy fix because the pizza was thin crust, and I just folded it over onto itself so the back of the pizza could be more of a crust, and that worked for him.  No messy fingers.  I guess another solution could have been cutting it up and eating it with a fork, which he has done in the past, but whatever the issue, the triumph was that he remained calm and went on to enjoy his pizza.

Another instance of SPD showing occurred when he needed new shoes.  I got him some cute ones that only needed to be zipped (because he is also kind of OCD and if the shoes have velcro, he takes forever aligning the velcro just right…more than one strap? You’ll be waiting a while) and was thrilled when he put them on, ran and hopped around, and wore them to school the next day.

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After a day of school, however, with all the movements an active 5 yr. old does, he informed me they felt bumpy at the top when he knelt.  So brand new shoes that I can’t return now?  Tah-tah.  And today, I can be okay with that.  (And also thankful I mostly only buy things on sale or second-hand).  Previously, I would have gotten mad that I went through the trouble to find the shoes, spent the money, and he didn’t like them after all.  Life is better when I accept his issues and treat him with dignity instead of trying to fit him into my idea of the way things should be.  I would want somebody to do the same for me.  My husband does not get mad or rant or resent me (though it may exhaust him) when I get stuck in anxious mode and he has to hear all about my fears knowing he can’t fix me.  He makes life better for me by hearing me, understanding it’s hard for me, and loving me unconditionally.  I want to do that for my son.  

I sometimes see my son trying to mask his SPD reactions.  When we were looking for shoes another occasion, he tried to use logic to reason his way into a new pair of Paw Patrol light-up shoes.  They looked perfect!  But the first thing he said when he tried them on before I asked or anything was, “hmm, I feel a bump on the bottom.” Then seeing my face, and knowing I would not get them if he had a complaint, he immediately tried to reason it away, saying, “BUT I think they’ll be fine after I wear them a little while and get used to them!”  Experience has taught me that if it’s annoying initially, that’ll always be the case.  There were tears shed over those Paw Patrol shoes, but I wouldn’t budge.

Similarly, his little sister got some brand new PINK tennis shoes after searching many stores.   They were NIKE!  (We were given a gift card to the store).  She LOVES pink!  She tried them on.  She danced around!  She was so happy.  She WANTED them to work! But when it came down to it, she couldn’t stand them for longer than a minute every time we tried them on after that.  She’d put them on, then get stuck like glue with her bottom on the floor, not being able to get up and walk in them. It’s like her brain just shut down with them on her feet.

I am not very patient when we’re getting ready to go and people don’t have their shoes on when I asked 15 minutes earlier.  A 20 minute delay really irks me.  One day she tried on 3 pairs of socks and 3 pairs of shoes, and we were so late.  I definitely returned the pink shoes.  I was disappointed because of the amount of effort searching, and feeling exhausted and dreading that now another kid is manifesting some real SPD stuff.  (It’s SO draining for me to figure out how to do life with SPD!  And not just one kid’s particularities!  But two…If you add in their dad’s preferences, three sensory processing packages! I guess it is draining to HAVE the SPD oneself, though, eh?!)  But I was SO GLAD I know it’s just not worth it to try to MAKE something work that just isn’t going to work.  

Like the pretty dress I’d bought when she was a baby, waiting for her to fit into it.  It was a perfect Easter dress!

scratchy
too “scratchy” for threenager

She would not wear it.  She wanted to!  She put it on, excited to dance and spin in it…But it was “too scratchy,” and she freaked out and cried until she got it off.   Just like when she put on the brand new shirt with a seam across the chest (which I also had bought in advance.  I think I have learned my lesson. “Saving money” buying things when they’re a good deal doesn’t always save money.  I am also glad I can let things go by embracing minimalism and saying if it doesn’t work for me, we can pass it on, no problem.  Why waste my emotional energy on it, looking at it and feeling bothered it was supposed to work but didn’t?!)

Anyhow, that’s just a glimpse of some examples of everyday issues that crop up with family members with SPD.  There are more, believe me…there are more.  But I can say that with a smile.  Life is not over; it is just more interesting.