I don't write a lot about how we deal with Gabe's ADHD here, but I am constantly thinking about it. It's a pretty pervasive force in our lives, and I'm always reading and learning and trying out new tactics. And I used to feel like we'd eventually find a system or a method that worked, and all would be well.
But as the days and months and years have gone by, I've realized that there is no single 'solution.' This is something we're going to be working on forever, and every day, every month, every season, every holiday is an opportunity for a curveball to be lobbed at us, just when we felt like things were going smoothly.
I mention holidays, because the Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas season definitely threw us for a loop this year. The levels of hyperactivity seen in this house were like none we had ever experienced before. And although Gabe is the one who was diagnosed with ADHD, Dante is a very silly, rambunctious 6-year-old, and is definitely a force to be reckoned with, too, and the two of them feed off of each other, so it's very much a group effort!
And I will be the first to admit that my reactions are often (very, very often) not the calm, soothing, controlled response that they should be. I struggle with my own issues in regards to all this, and just as Gabe's behavior has highs and lows, so does my capacity for dealing with it.
The seasonal chaos spilled over into school a bit, too, which was our real concern. There was no real bad behavior - nothing harmful, nothing mean-spirited, nothing that would even raise a red flag if it happened once in a while - it was just a constant struggle with not waiting to speak out in class, and making unnecessary noises (humming, etc.). Generally being a distraction to the rest of his classmates, and not being respectful of the classroom rules.
Like I said, nothing that would cause much concern if it was a rare event, but it was happening EVERY single day - and his classmates were complaining about it. And as I looked back at his daily calendar (which has color-coded symbols to reflect his overall behavior each day), I saw that the problems started right around Halloween, and continued right through Christmas break.
My memory isn't great, but I'm fairly certain I recall a very similar pattern last year. And as it did last year, the behavior seems to have magically corrected itself now that the holidays have finally come to an end.
So now that we've seen and dealt with this pattern of behavior two years in a row, I'm going to literally write something in my calendar for next October, to remind me to put some extra systems in place for that time of year, to try to keep us all on track.
That time of year is tough on me, too - my mind is buzzing with a million things to get done, and my patience runs thinner and thinner as the holidays draw closer and closer. So a reminder to all of us to be mindful of those factors, and work really hard to keep them from sabotaging our daily routines, will be a good thing.
I'm also making some changes now that I hope will stick with us throughout the year, one of which is less TV time. In the holiday rush, I got lazy, and often let the boys watch TV when I was busy with housework and projects (which was a lot of the time). I'm not against TV, but it had gotten a little out of hand - as evidenced by Carmine walking in the house, hopping up on the couch, and demanding to watch "Mickey! Mickey! Mickey!"
One idea I'm trying is my version of an "idea jar." Instead of a jar, I got an envelope, glued a magnet to the back, and stuck it on the fridge. Inside the envelope are tickets with ideas for things to do. Some are just ordinary suggestions - Legos, watercolors, Matchbox cars - but there are a few different ideas, too - write someone a letter, read a book and draw a picture about what you read.
It's a small thing, but when there's an hour 'til dinner, and everyone is bouncing off the walls, and also complaining that they "don't know what to do," I no longer have to come up with an idea on the spot - they can choose one for themselves. Last night all three of them happily painted watercolor pictures for a good 45 minutes. It was lovely : ) And not having the constant background noise from the TV made me feel calmer, too.
I also signed us up for this program - The 10-Day Family Recharge - which looks fabulous. I don't think we need to completely overhaul our lifestyle, but I do think some reminders will be good for all of us. Reminders to really appreciate each other, and try to not get too caught up in the insanity that is our daily life. It is a bit insane, but it's awesome, too, and it's all too easy to lose sight of that as you're yelling at your 6- and 7-year olds to get their gloves on so we don't miss the bus and your 2-year-old is sobbing for Daddy, who just went to work.
I don't anticipate major changes, but I do anticipate subtle ones. Hopefully a little more patience on my part. Maybe a little less bickering between Gabe and Dante (hey, I can dream, can't I?)
I guess the big thing I'm hoping to get out of it is a small shift in my way of thinking. I spend too much time focusing on the million lists I'm constantly making in my head - what I need to do, and where we need to go, what we're planning next month, and the month after that - and not enough time just being with my kids and enjoying the crazy, funny, sweet little boys they are. A little more connection, as they really start to grow up and tackle some of the tougher things life is going to start throwing at them. A little more calmness, so that they know if they have a rough day at school, home will always always always be their safe haven. (I think they know this already, but it bears repeating and reinforcing).
In any case, I think it will be a fun experience for all of us, and I'm excited to get started next week - after my first 20-miler on Saturday, for which the temperatures are going to be up near 50 - thank you, Mother Nature!!!!!!