Many people don’t realize just what parenting a child with ADHD or other neurodevelopmental or behavioral disorder is like. Many parents are quick to dismiss the condition or tell you that you are just not discipling your child enough, you are parenting them wrong, you are spoiling or coddling them. So many people are quick to tell you how to parent or judge you when they see your child acting out or acting different. Shame you or call your choices, “ridiculous”.
Coincidently at the time of writing this, I had been dealing with this exact thing. It actually makes it hard to put myself out there at times, because I become afraid of the backlash. I am working on developing tougher skin and ignoring the judgemental comments. I beleive its more important to share MY stories MY struggles as so many parents can relate in so many ways.
Even though #ADHDawarenessmonth is over, I believe its an important topic for so many. So many parents and children are struggling with a variety of issues. This article is written about my personal experience and is in no way meant to downplay or disregard other types of struggles that parents/kids are dealing with.
The BC Ministry of Child and Family Development just announced on October 27th, 2021 that they are improving the system for children and youth with support needs.
“Neurodiverse children and youth and those with disabilities will benefit from a new service system that will provide supports for children and youth based on their unique needs, with or without a diagnosis.
Currently, children have to wait for help until they are diagnosed. Many children, such as those with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, qualify for very few supports, even though they may have high needs.” Source
The new system will be needs-based but wont take effect in the Vancouver or Fraser Health region until 2024. What that will actually look like for kids with ADHD and other nerodevelopmental issues, we don’t really know, yet. We can speculate and hope and pray that it will mean that kids with ADHD will be able to qualify for extra supports and those extra supports will be funded and provided to parents and schools (as the currently qualify for no supports based solely on an ADHD diagnosis). I certainly hope that is what it will look like, as having kids with ADHD feels like a downhill battle from every side. It is a lonely journey for kids and parents as they try to get through each day.
What does a day in my life look like?
Mornings start off at 7am, but by the time I am able to wrangle my kids out of bed it is more like 730. I have a list on their bathroom door to remind them of their daily morning routine. Even with the list, my son who is 7 seems to make it his daily mission to tip me over the edge even before 8am. It is not easy repeating yourself over and over, trying to be empathetic to their medical condition and trying to keep them from being late. He often will resist everything, trying to get someone like that dressed is exhausting. Breakfast is interesting. He has a specific number of items he is willing to eat it seems, he sometimes also decides that the color of his bowl is relevant and if said breakfast is not in that bowl he wont eat it. Sometimes he wont finish his food because his sister got to close to it and may have put her germs in it. Unfortunately we end up wasting a lot of food (and I hate it). When we get through breakfast and medicine, we are on to teeth. Another super fun activity, cause hey I love to be a gluten for punishment. If there is time to spare, we let the kids have free time but it can be a double edged sword when it is time to STOP that activity to finally get our shoes and jackets etc on. My kids get fixated on tasks they enjoy and trying to pry them away is a battle.
The medicine takes about 30 min to kick in but only lasts for about 6 hours so its a fine balance of being able to have any of the benefit the medicine provides for while he is home vs while he is at school. I always opt for school which means before and after school hours are extremely difficult to deal with.
When the kids finally leave out the door for the school bus, It is at that moment that I feel my body release- stress, tension, emotion etc. I usually cry a little because I know for the next 6 hours I get to decompress and can focus on other things I need to do, maybe even relax a little before I get to do this all over again when they get home from school.
After school is hard, really hard especially if it is not outside playing weather or if the neighbor kids or his sister are not available to play. He really needs his outside time (exercise has been proven to have positive impacts on how ADHD kids act). If he is inside, its a battle to get him to not ask me every 5 min to use electronics, despite having a house filled with crafts, toys etc. I can look him in the eyes, get down to his level, calming answer his question with a NO and he still will either come back and ask again or he will eventually have a tantrum and that will last at least several hours. The tantrums are almost daily. They are probably the hardest part for me right now. They are not like toddler tantrums. They last longer and are more intense. His vocabulary is of a 7 year old so his words are more intense, he is stronger so his destruction and hitting are more intense. He will go into his room and talk negative while kicking his door or bed headboard etc. It is very hard and almost nothing but time will get him back down to “Calmville”. But as a parent who does not want to see their child in this state, we try to help. To offer support, even if it is like talking to a wall.
Getting to bed is the hardest part of the day. Getting the kids to wind down, to turn their brains off, to relax is really difficult. The wind down process often drags on way longer than intended, which is frustrating in itself. More resistance to brushing teeth, taking a bath/shower, getting dressed. All of a sudden the kids will decide just before bed is a good time to start a new project or build a lego set or any one of a million other things they would just rather do. What makes it harder, is it is the end of the day, everyone is tired, as a parent I just want to relax. As a parent we have things to do before we can get to bed, maybe there are dishes to finish up, lunches to be made, laundry to work on and maybe we just want some quiet time to ourselves to watch our favorite show without interruption.
Then once the kids are asleep, you have all of this to look forward to tomorrow. I try to not think about it, I try to start each day new and fresh because If I don’t I will develop resentment and it just adds to the stress, anxiety and lack of patience. Somedays (like today, which was the day after Halloween) I keep my kids home from school because we are tired and need the mental health break, the extra sleep etc. That’s what we needed, that’s what worked for us.
I have to start each day like it is a whole new day, with no pre-conceived notions, take it as it comes.
“Every day is a chance to begin again. Don’t focus on the failures of yesterday, start today with positive thoughts and expectations.”
Click here for a list of books parents of children who are struggling,might find useful.