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.

53573611409__6AC30959-12E4-4718-8BBA-6B08A22C52B8

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.

 

 

 

Posted in Day in the life of a mom, Ponderings about life

Representin’…the SAHM life.

This week while grabbing more veggies and milk at Target (which doesn’t have the best deals–I prefer Aldi– but that’s where we had a gift card to, and Ibotta* gives back a little) I conversed a bit with the cashier.  She thought my little girl was cute, and thankfully Threenager didn’t give her a stinkface and prove her wrong (this time).

The cashier mentioned she was new there.  I said I hope she enjoys her job, and as she lifted the heavy milk jug up to hand me, I noted aloud that it included the perk of a workout.  She said yeah, it’s nice, and she needs it because before that she was a stay-at-home-mom for 8 years.  I interjected, “Oh, that’s what I do.” To which she replied, “It really sucks!”  I paused, not sure if she meant not working out when she stayed at home, or if she was saying my profession sucks, so I asked, “Oh? What does?”  “Staying at home!” She exclaimed, giving me knowing eyes and nodding her head. “It’s so boring! I didn’t get to see my friends or get out and do things!”  And she had a bit more to say before I paid and left.

It seemed like she just needed to talk.  So I didn’t say what I was thinking, that being a Stay-At-Home-Mom can be hard.  It is the hardest thing I have ever done.  I have never struggled so much as I have as a mother trying to balance house duties and keeping little people alive 24-7, with hardly a moment off.  I’ve been a “Messy” the first 30 years of my life, totally disorganized, and I’m not really a great cook.  I was confident with caring for other people’s kids, but mine have been harder to figure out.  Yet, things are improving, and this is the most meaningful thing I have invested into.  I wouldn’t trade my job for any other.

And, because it would have been totally rude, I also didn’t say the saying that popped into my mind that my momma would say about the word “boring.”  It goes, Only boring people get bored.  I’d personally modify it to say that being bored is simply the result of a sleeping imagination.

So my heart went away sad.  Sad that she was utterly discontent during those 8 years.  Sad that perhaps her children hear her saying it was torture to stay at home with them.  Sad that this was how my profession was being represented to a public that, generally speaking, also looks down on staying at home.

I wish that she had known how to thrive in it.  Admittedly, I am still learning more about that.  But I know that I do NOT think my job sucks.  As for her complaints, I think there were solutions to them.  The thing is, as SAHMs, complaining to the manager is…complaining to ourselves.  And a wise manager can fix the issues rather than let them pile up into a big mess of get-me-outta-here.

News flash.  SAHMs can have an exercise routine.  A lot of gyms have childcare available.  I personally use youtube videos as my workout routine since I don’t have gym membership (and don’t want one). I like Cocolime Fitness, Lucy Wyndham-Read, and Jessica Smith TV channels and videos because they are good for chronic fatigue and don’t wipe me out like the higher intensity ones would.

Being a homemaker doesn’t have to be lonely, because you can find your tribe and make your own schedule, which can and should include socializing with others who share your interests.  Play dates can start by exchanging contact info with a mom and meeting up the next week at Chick-fil-a on a rainy day, and progress to the home atmosphere later on.  It may not be the drinks-after-work some career women are used to, but it’s socializing.  You find time for what is important to you, and if working out and friend time is important, you make it happen.

I recently read or heard that people who had life-altering injuries were followed-up with a year after their injuries to find they had returned to their former baseline happiness levels.  (Which also made me think of how people who win the lottery are often much more miserable afterwards, and wish they had not won the lottery.  Maybe an unmet expectations issue?)  Basically, the point is that eventually, after life changes we return (or decline) to whatever level of contentment we maintain now.  So my mind questions whether this new cashier job will fix the lonely cashier’s happy-o-meter.

Next time, I might be grocery shopping with a fussy kid.  I might be a frustrated momma, even.  But I hope even in the least ideal of circumstances, I aim to represent my profession well.  I can remind myself what matters–caring for these little people, creating a loving home, and being fulfilled in a life I am choosing.

(*If you are unfamiliar with Ibotta, it’s an easier way to coupon, in a smart phone app, by simply selecting items you are going to buy from whatever store you’re going to get in advance, then scanning or photographing the receipt after you’ve purchased the items of your selection.  There’s even a way to link store loyalty cards.  I forget to use physical paper coupons usually, but taking a minute to scan a receipt after the hubub of the store checkout line is much easier and doable for me!  Here’s a link for you to get started saving if you’re interested, and you should get a bonus for joining, maybe $10 or so. It also helps me out!  After you have saved $20 you can cash out. I usually cash out with Amazon or Walmart gift cards. https://ibotta.com/r/tiasrax)

 

 

 

 

Posted in minimalism, Ponderings about life, saving money, Uncategorized

Aiming high in 2018!

As I take down and prepare to recycle our 8-year old, pre-lit, 4 ft. Christmas tree that slowly dwindled down to having only 1/5th of the lights working, I start to think about how I might miss out on the after-Christmas sales, where I was hoping to snag a replacement.  They’re probably all sold out by now! I worry.  (Did I mention how I am an expert? At least at worrying.  I’m trying to lose that credential lately.)  Even if they weren’t, I spent the cash, mostly piggy bank quarters, on groceries and now we’re not using credit this month! I think, defeated. 

Then I catch myself and say, as it is a new year, how about a shift in thinking?  I am determining to stay on the sunny side of life this year.  The past several years were way too wearing on me, full of anxiety and more often than I’d like to admit, negativity (which grows easily when you’re chronically fatigued), and I’m ready for an improved point of view. (And hormone health…but that’s for another post!)

My January goal, as mentioned earlier, is not using credit.  After December and gift buying, mostly on Amazon (where Discover offered 5% cash back on purchases!!), my husband showed me our mint info…and there was a lot of red.  Actually, in more than just December.  Because we don’t buy what we can’t afford, I didn’t think of it as a problem.  I’m the acquisitions expert in the family.  (Read: shopper extraordinaire).  We had money in savings. I discussed everything beforehand with my financial partner, my handsome hubs.  But with over half the year drawing from it (mostly for medical bills and health efforts like buying organic and gluten free foods), maybe it’s time to scale back in other ways?  So, thought-pattern shifting time!

I don’t really do things half-heartedly.  I’m kind of all or nothing.  So when my husband suggested we be careful the next few months and try to save, I got curious.  What if we didn’t use credit AT ALL this month?! (With the exception of buying gas, which Discover offers 5% cash back on, again…that’s making money, you know)?! How much could we save then? The possibility was rather exciting. 

The goals?  Save for our kids’ next year at a private school, be able to afford plane tickets to visit my brother on the other side of the US, and budget for a dog (wasn’t that like $1,000 a year including vet bills?).

So, no impulse buys this month.  Empty our pantry.  Get creative with meals, only use gift cards ($40 to Target, $25 to Amazon, and the rest of our cash, which was about $20 in bills, and $10 in coins) to restock the empty fridge with fresh milk, fruit and veggies for the kids after returning from Christmas vacation.  Put all “wants” on a list for next month.  I got this.  So I think.

Stay tuned. 

P.S.  Back to the Christmas Tree…I changed my thinking to more outside the box.  I’ve always wanted a little 2-3 ft. live one that come in cute little pots at Lowes!  So that’s my plan.  Next year, we’ll have a tree/bush to plant outside after adding some live greenery to our home.  No artificial one in storage(we don’t really have storage spaces in our home) for me!  How’s that for a step towards minimalism? I should pat myself on the back for that triumph out of decor-tragedy!