Happy New Year! I hope it has been a good start to the New Year. New beginnings are often exciting because they allow us the opportunity to make adjustments and choose differently.
My whole family (my husband, four kids and myself) went away for a few days. We had a great time and had the chance to meet some new and interesting people.
We did two things differently this time than previous trips. First the kids packed their own bags (with a little assistance) and I required them to do 15 minutes of work each day.
Since they had packed all their own things and were sharing a relatively small space I wanted to use this time to help them build accountability and some organizational skills. Even though we were on “vacation” I felt that practicing these skills would be beneficial for all of us.
The task assigned was to fold their dirty clothes and place them in a plastic bag at the end of the day. This not only helps to keep the room tidy and prevents stuff from getting misplaced, but it also shows respect to the people you are sharing space with and makes packing up much easier.
Practicing this skill was easier for some of my kids than it was for others. I practiced the show, help, involve, oversee method. I did sometimes give some reminders but I really tired give over control so they could each learn. Throughout the trip I did get frustrated but it was also a good experience for all of us.
For one of my ADHD kids (I have two) this exercise was exceptionally challenging, even with reminders. This exercise forced me to think about and look at how I react to and support this child, making me look at how it can be different. Supporting this child has been something I have been looking at for a while, but it is something I have to work particularly hard on as it does not come naturally or easily.
The opportunity to choose differently can be so significant and beneficial especially in parenting. When we don’t feel things are going well and our child is struggling, it is easy to get sucked down the rabbit hole of thinking nothing will ever change. And it is in this exact moment we get to choose a different thought.
As part of doing something different I joined a 21-day challenge. One of the first exercises suggested has been that when I find myself thinking something negative that I find the next best feeling thought I can find, one that I believe and feels doable.
Parenting can sometimes be lonely, especially when our kids are struggling. My goal is to create a safe space and resource for parents so we can share in the journey of parenting together. There is no ta-da moment where I have figured it all out, because I’m learning right along with you. I have found things that work so I share them. I struggle, which is part of this journey called life, so I share it.
I know that not all parents find labels (like ADHD) helpful, which I understand since society can be very judgmental. They may feel it reflects on a child intellect (with ADHD there is absolutely no correlation) and that teachers might unfairly label a student, honestly many teachers and schools are still struggling to understand neurodiversity. There has been so much research done over the last 10-20 years on the brain, how it works, how we learn, how different they all are, there is a lot that is understood so differently now. There is a lot of misunderstanding about what a label like this actually means for a child and their future, which I think fuels some parents dislike of labels.
I am excited about this year ahead and all the learning and growing we all get to embark on. The end of 2022 closed a chapter for me that will forever change my life. At the end of the year I lost the woman who was most instrumental in stewarding me into the person I am today. My mother never stopped believing in me (even when the school system had), helping me grow, change and look at things differently. She has a mark on everything I do, and everything I will ever do and for that I am eternally grateful.
Being a parent is a tough job, but the impact lives well beyond your days on this planet. Thank you for all the love, effort and patience you give your kids daily.
With respect and gratitude.