Parenting is HARD

Recently a friend posted the statement, “Parenting is HARD.”  Why yes, lady, yes it is.  Our children are all different and they each present their own sets of challenges and let’s face it there is no one book or manual or set of advice that applies to every child or that works for every parent.  For every parent that thinks to themselves, “this stuff is hard” and doubts their abilities I want to take a moment to applaud you because if you are taking the time to question your abilities, you are probably doing something right.

I’ve recently been bombarded with all sorts of parenting information and I thought I’d share some of the most helpful of the hints I’ve discovered.

You cannot give from an empty cup
As a parent, you should never feel guilty about taking care of yourself.  I myself have learned the hard way that one person can NOT do it all.  There are times that you need to take a break from parenting to make sure you are taking care of yourself.

What your children want most from you is your time
One of the commonly reoccurring themes that I hear on podcasts and read in parenting advice is that what your children want most from you is your time.  In a recent podcast from Dr. James Dobson’s Family Talk entitled Dealing with the Difficult Child the speaker Dr. Tim Clinton referenced a study done by psychologist Russell Barkley.  If you spend 20 minutes a day with your child in command free time (aka in layman’s terms PLAY) you will notice a difference if your child’s overall defiance.  Imagine that… 20 minutes a day playing with your child, crawling into their world spending time with them doing something they want to do.

Have Family Dinner
Studies have shown that the more you have dinner with your child, the more healthy the outcome for the child.  In my house, we have both Breakfast and Dinner together because let’s face it, there is truth to that saying “breakfast is the most important meal of the day” and also because I want to try to engrain the importance of family in my child.

Communication is Key and Practice, Practice, Practice
Let’s face it, parenting is a skill and if you want to get better at any kind of skill you must practice. Adele Fabor says on a podcast from The Psych Files “The foundation to communicating with your child is to acknowledge feelings.  Acknowledge your feeling, acknowledge their feelings and be respectful of those feelings.”  Sometimes this is easier said than done, but any skill must be practiced.  We must practice empathy and patience with our children and with ourselves every day.

Always Choose Love
The best thing we can do for ourselves and our children is to always choose love, in every situation.  Let’s bring back happiness and laughter into our families.  Let us choose daily kindness and empathy.  Let’s show our children that we love them and our fellow people and teach them to love themselves and others.  Let us always choose love no matter what difficulties might try to throw us off balance.  A positive mindset plays a key role in a happy lifestyle.

 

 

 

 

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What Now?

Ok, so now I understand why my child has been having so much trouble in school. Sensory Processing Disorder.  So what now?

In my case, I lucked out.  After asking literally everyone I came in contact with about in home daycare I found a woman, who is turning out to be a Godsend.  She only cares for 5 kids at the most and she has previous teaching experience and has worked with autistic children.  While my son isn’t autistic, most autistic children suffer from some types of Sensory Processing Problems so she’s dealt with some of the behaviors my son exhibits. After the first week, I was so thankful to have found her.  She reports my son is mostly well behaved, “a good boy”. Music to my ears considering all his previous caretakers would just report the “crazy” behaviors he exhibited that I wasn’t sure what I could do about and that he didn’t exhibit at home because there aren’t massive amounts of children running around our house.

I’m looking into Early Childhood Intervention programs through my school district, but honestly, the thought of having to send him back to school after the experiences I’ve had is absolutely terrifying.  I don’t want to even think about it right now, I just want to revel in the fact that he is currently happy in the place that he is at and I can put the thought of school on the back burner for a little while.

We go to Occupational Therapy.  In Occupational Therapy we can work on both my son’s sensory seeking and sensory avoidant behaviors.  We can also work together to build a sensory diet for my son to help fulfill his sensory seeking and avoidant behaviors at home and hopefully improve his behavior, emotions, and social interactions.

Knowing that my son’s behavior is not defiant and is mostly linked to a Sensory Processing Disorder has helped me tremendously.  I am able to be more patient.  I am able to better identify triggers to avoid meltdowns, to stop meltdowns before they start or to talk him through a meltdown better than I previously could.  This is not the end of the road for us, it will be a long and perilous journey moving forward, but I am armed with knowledge and I will continue to build my armory with useful tools to help us navigate through our Sensory Processing Disorder adventure.

Let me share some of my Sensory Processing Disorder Toolbox with you.

Books:
Raising a Sensory Smart Child

The Out of Sync Child

The Explosive Child

The Highly Sensitive Child

Websites:

Leading Edge Parenting

Child Mind Institute

The Inspired Treehouse

Growing Hands-On Kids

Sensory Smart Parent

Sensory Processing Disorder Parent Support

Other SPD Parents-  I cannot thank the other parents and mothers I have talked to enough for calming me down, encouraging me and opening my eyes to the beauty of having a Sensory Processing Disorder Child.

Online Groups- Because when you’re about to lose your mind at 2 am, there is always someone else up to chat.

This is Part Five in the SPD Series
Read Post One Here: The Day My World Came Crashing Down
Post Two Here: Trying to Move Forward and Getting No Traction
Post Three Here: A Spark of Hope
Post Four Here: Okay, So What is Sensory Processing Disorder

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Kids Clothes Don’t have to Cost a Fortune

I don’t know about you but I don’t like spending a boat load of money on clothes.  I used to work in promotional products and if you knew how much profit they make selling you a $20 t-shirt with a snazzy logo you would rarely buy one again (unless it’s to support an awesome cause).

Also, my child grows like a weed.  We bought him a pair of cowboy boots in October to go with his Cowboy Halloween costume and by November he had outgrown them.  I bought my son a handful of pants for the winter a few months back because I thought it might be cold, but our Texas winter only lasted a couple of days before the weather warmed back up making long pants unbearable.  I went to his drawer to grab him some shorts only to discover that most of them were not going to fit and his swim trunks for his swim lessons were getting a little snug.  I knew I would be having to make a shopping trip for him.

I went to my favorite kid’s resale store during my lunch break the next day and I scored.  I found 10 pairs of shorts, 2 pairs of swim trunks and 4 shirts for right around $50.  That’s less than $3.50 per item average and I got him practically a wardrobe of clothes that should last well into summer as long as he doesn’t grow too much more… Two of the shorts still had tags on them, I always find superhero wear and all the clothes still have a lot of wear in them.  I have to say I’ve found some of the most awesome shirts at the thrift stores, All the SuperHero’s, Disney’s Cars, Monster Trucks, Dinosaurs, Curious George and Dr. Seuss.  I don’t think I ever would have found those last two anywhere else, and definitely not at less than $5 a piece.  I have a rule that I won’t spend more than $5 on an item of clothing for my child unless it’s a specialty piece like a jacket or shoes.  Unfortunately, the weather just took a turn back to cold, but thanks to my $50 fall wardrobe purchase he has plenty of warm pants.

If you’ve never been thrift shopping I encourage you to give it a try, and not just for the kiddo’s.  I am currently wearing a pair of Express Jeans I scored in a thrift shop two years ago for $20 because I refuse to spend more than $20 on a pair of jeans.  Sometimes it can be frustrating because you find something you love in the wrong size and they don’t have the correct size, but sometimes it’s awesome and you find exactly what you’re looking for. There are so many brands all in one place, you don’t have to wait and shop the sales and you won’t find something you absolutely love, look at the price tag and have to hang it back up.

A Spark of Hope

I tried a third school, a church school, with no better luck.  He continued to have problems, I kept getting phone calls, I kept having to leave work to come get him.  He lasted three days before I decided I couldn’t leave him in that place.  I watched the “teachers” putting some children down for a nap and how they were interacting with the kids appalled me.  I knew I wouldn’t bring him back to that place.  There had to be another option, my sister had used an in home daycare with my niece, but they lived across town.  I had a flash of asking to move in with her so we could use it also but I knew it was unrealistic.

I started looking for in-home daycare’s with fewer children and therefore less sensory overload.  I literally started asking every person that I knew, in hopes I would find a lead.  I interviewed a nanny and was prepared to pay more money than I could really afford, but in the end, she wanted even more money than I could pay.  I found a lady willing to watch him, I wasn’t totally comfortable with her but I felt like I had my back against the wall.  I was having to leave work too often and I didn’t want to get fired and I could keep looking for someone better.

While I continued hunting for somewhere to leave my child that I liked I also reached out to a mother in my Mom’s group.  She is a Physical Therapist and I turned to her for advice since I thought his behavior was sensory related.  She said I could bring him in for a free unofficial evaluation.

I met with her on a Friday and told her Nate’s story.  How he was a head banger when he was a baby.  How he crawled at 4 months and walked at 9 months.  How he was always go- go-go.  How he chewed his shirts and pulled off little pieces of his diapers when he was in diapers.  how he would spit out a mouthful of food if I happened to miss that there was a tomato or onion mixed in.  How he wouldn’t try new foods.  how he only wanted to wear “comfy pants.” How he would literally have a meltdown if I didn’t dry my hands after washing the dishes if I turned to help him and touched him with wet hands.  How he never wanted to sleep even when you cold tell he was exhausted, even when he had been a baby.  How he struggled severely at school.  How he struggled with transitions.. . . I went on and on.

She listed to all I had to say and she told me, “Oh yes, He has Sensory Processing Disorder.”

I was relieved to have an answer.  I felt hope.  I had a diagnosis.

Now, what the fuck is Sensory Processing Disorder?

Finally, a step forward on a very long, very hard and tearful journey towards helping my child.

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This is the Third Post in SPD Series.
Read Post One Here: The Day My World Came Crashing Down
Read Post Two Here: Trying to Move Forward and Getting No Traction

Trying to Move Forward and Getting No Traction

I frantically searched for a new school to place my child in.  I found a Montessori school with a huge outdoor space and a low child to student ratio.  It looked like it could be a nice place so I decided we would give it a try.  I thought 17 students for 1 teacher was way too many so I specifically sought out a place with a lower student to teacher ratio.

I knew my son struggled with transitions so I warned the teachers and school personnel about it.  To say adjusting to the new school was a struggle is an understatement.  His first day was rough, but he survived. . . barely.  I got called on Tuesday to come get him because he had hit another child.  When I came to get him I was swarmed by the entire staff.  We talked about my son and his history.  I talked about how he was a head banger when he was little and how after a certain teacher had left his previous school he started to fall apart.  He struggled with transitions, and on and on.

They gave me some advice and I left feeling a little bit better.  I had known the first week was going to be a rough one.

It didn’t get any better.  The next day he continued to struggle.  He hit the teacher, he ran outside and then lost his outside privileges, he hid in the reading corner and tried to hide behind the bookshelf, he cursed.  They separated him from the other kids to calm down and he ate lunch with their behavioral specialist.  This behavior continued through the week.  He was not adjusting at all.

Then it came again… on the following Monday, this school told me that my child was too disruptive and that they thought I should look somewhere else.  They told me my child’s behavior was defiant and the fact that he couldn’t look the adults in the eye when they were trying to talk to him was atypical behavior.  They made me feel like a shitty parent with a deviant child who had behavioral issues.  I knew my child had some issues, but I didn’t believe they were behavioral.  As I slowly pulled pieces together from his experiences in school together, I began to believe my sons’ issues were sensory related.  I felt he became easily overwhelmed by all the transitions and switching of teachers and activities. I felt like he went easily into sensory overload.

In the week he had been at the school I had tried to make him a flip book of the different transitions to try to help him and I was surprised at how many there were.  Start off in the main room with all the children, move to the classroom, circle time, snack time, outside time, lunch time, nap time in a different room, snack time again, circle time again, move into the main room for pick up.  That is an awful lot of transitions for a child that doesn’t do well with transitions.  And honestly, I was just figuring out exactly what that phrase “struggles with transitions” meant.  Actually seeing how many transitions our children make at school kind of floored me, I could only imagine how all the transitions made my child feel.

I called my therapist friend.  We talked, she reassured me that most of his behavior was normal child behavior.  I recalled a conversation we had had previously about eye contact. and how we had talked about how some children don’t look at adults in the eyes because it can feel very threatening, but it’s not atypical behavior, she remembered and agreed.  Together we ruled out a diagnosis of Autism, even though using some techniques that work well with autistic children all worked well for him.  She agreed he probably fell into the category of Highly Sensitive Children and we talked about sensory overload. . . We decided a lot of his behaviors could be classified as normal, but you could definitely tell there were some issues there somewhere.  She didn’t feel like it was behavioral related, we kept coming back to sensory…I felt less like a shitty parent after our conversation, but my stress level was through the roof.  What was I going to do with my son?  I couldn’t quit my job because we need the income.

This was the second stumble of a step on a very long, very hard and tearful journey towards helping my child.

To be continued. . .

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Second Post in SPD Series
Read The First Post Here:  The Day My World Came Crashing Down

The Day My World Came Crashing Down

As I sat in your office crying after you told me my son could no longer attend your school you had the gall to ask me “How are you feeling?”  It still bothers me to this day that you asked me this question.  Of all the things you could say, what possessed you to ask me “How are you feeling?” The question made me feel like I was in therapy.  I almost blurted out “What kind of fucking question is that?  How do you think I’m fucking feeling?” but instead I let the rage spiral around inside me and between the sobs and the tears I managed to say “Devastated”.

After I got that one word out I was able to continue some.  “Is there any way he could stay?” I asked because the maternal instinct said I should fight for my child even though somewhere in the dark corners of my heart I knew that he hadn’t liked it there in a long while.  She said No.  She said that they had tried to work with him, but that other parents had also raised concerns about my child.

WTF?  As if I wasn’t already angry “Why am I just now hearing that other parents are concerned about my child? Isn’t that something that I should have been told?” I asked and then I continued “I feel like I wasn’t communicated with honestly about my son’s behavior in school.  I feel like the teachers focused on the positive things instead of the negative so I wasn’t getting an accurate picture of what was going on. I feel like only one teacher (who wasn’t even his teacher but was with him here and there) actually had been telling me the truth about him.”

She agreed that the communication could have been better not that it made a difference at this point in time.  I had asked the teachers and the director on numerous occasions what they thought was going on, why my child seemed unhappy at their school.  The best I got was they thought he was just a very sensitive child and that when you tell him “No” it just cuts straight through to his little soul and brings him pain. I didn’t quite buy the explanation and felt there was more to the problem.

The director then told me a story about the only other child they had kicked out of their facility and how he had moved passed his early childhood issues especially when he became involved in sports.

She meant to tell the story to make me feel better.

It didn’t.

I was still devastated and I was still pissed off.

“Happy Early Fucking Birthday to me,” I thought.  My 3.5-year-old was kicked out of school for pushing and kicking another child because you know, kids don’t do things like that.. .

Months later it still bothers me that she asked me that question, but I no longer bear a grudge towards the school or the staff.  This was the first stumble of a step on a very long, very hard and tearful journey towards helping my child.

To be continued. . .

Dear 2017

Dear 2017,

Together we are going to rock this year.  I feel like I am laying a foundation for many positive things to come. Positivity doesn’t always come easy for me so I am trying my darndest to make it a part of every day.  Yes, I talk to myself, I write things down, I make myself all sorts of notes.

I am also trying very hard to practice gratitude.  I am grateful for the beautiful day you provided us with yesterday and a chance to take my son to a new park with super fun slides.  I am grateful that even though you got my blood pumping and gave me near hysterics as I watched my son fall while climbing (as I frantically tried to get to him in time but couldn’t) that he was not injured.

I am grateful that while driving home I was paying attention and was able to maneuver my vehicle out of the way and avoid becoming part of the three car pile up that happened in front of me.  I am thankful none of the people that were part of the accident were injured.  They all hopped quickly out of their vehicles while I sat in mine trying to stop shaking so I could get out and make sure they were okay.  The man I talked to was positive.  “I am okay,” he said, (in all honesty he looked better than I felt he was even smiling.) “It was about time for a new car anyway.” His was the car in the middle.  Watching that man was inspiring to me.  I wish we could all take things in stride like he seemed to.  I am very grateful for the experience of having met him for the brief time I did.

And while I didn’t accomplish every tiny little thing I wanted to yesterday, I made progress and that is all I really want.  Progress every day no matter how small or large, just a few steps forward.

Peace and Blessings,

Lisa

The Things We Carry

Most of us carry around some sort of baggage from our pasts.  Did you know that if you carry around an emotion with you from a thought or an event and you do not process that feeling that it can build up within you on a cellular level and make you sick?  Until more recently, neither did I.  I’ve been learning a lot over the past year about health and wellness and healing.  How it’s not just what we eat, how we sleep and how we exercise that keeps us healthy, but also what we store within our subconscious, how we think and even how we act that can lead to feelings of stuckness, or even sickness.

When I’m looking and listening to the universe I often find that the same topic will repeat itself in various places.  It will literally pop up on my Facebook in the form of a quote, or it will be the topic of the next podcast in my queue, or it will be mentioned in a casual conversation with family or friends.  When I notice these topics I try to take a look and a listen to see what is going on within me that needs to be addressed.

Forgiveness has been a hot topic in my reading material and podcasts as of late and when my writing prompts led me to write about “the things we carry” I put all the pieces of the puzzle together.  I feel as if I am carrying around a burden that needs to be lightened .  I feel like my subconscious is asking me to forgive something.   It could be a person who was done wrong to me, maybe I need to ask for forgiveness from someone I have wronged, perhaps I need to forgive myself or maybe it’s a combination of all of the above.

So I delved into some of my feelings and really listened to my multiple podcasts on forgiveness.  I figured out which category the forgiveness belonged to and I made a plan of action on how to forgive.  I’ll tell you forgiveness does not always come easy and honestly it goes against human nature.  There is a little part of me that still wants to hold onto certain events, but I the urge and want to grow outweigh the need to hold on to the past.  I want to move forward, I don’t want to stay stuck and to accomplish this I must throw out a little forgiveness.

I challenge you this week to look within yourself and see what you are carrying around with you.  What is leaning on your subconscience and weighing you down?  What do you need to do to lighten the load your subconscience is carrying so that your hands and mind are free and open to accept something new and wonderful?

 

 

 

Animals of the Homestead-Chevy Update

I was hoping a Coworker would adopt our little Chevy, but when I probed him for an answer he was unsure he wanted to add another animal to his home.  The chaos in the house was becoming overwhelming for me.  The dog barking anytime the cats fussed, Chevy pouncing on covers as I tried to get my child to sleep… I felt as if I was going to break.

I decided to play the social media card as I know a LOT of animal loving people and was hoping one of them might make a good home for her.  The same day I reached out a friend contacted me and said she wanted her and would come pick her up THAT evening.  The answer was a blessing.  My son knows the people and can get regular reports on the baby kitty when we see them and she didn’t care when I told her, “I do want to warn you she’s into everything.”

I have gotten updates that Chevy happily chases their dog around the house and snuggles with them at night.  I am so thankful this little kitty found us and we were able to find her a kind and loving home.  The house is almost a little too quiet, but much more peaceful.

Animals of the Homestead-Chevy

It was a Thursday when she came to us.. . . because we couldn’t have a normal week.  My husband had just taken out the trash and told me “We have chickens at our gate”.  I seriously thought he was messing with me, but no sure enough there was a rooster and a chicken at our gate.  Smudge took care of that and ran up on the fence scaring them across the street.  I threw him in the house to keep him from getting any ideas about chasing them across the street and went back to my morning routine.  I was strapping the boy in the car seat to take him to school when I heard the crying meow of a kitten.  I turned around and started scanning.  Sure enough, there was a baby kitten under my husband’s work truck.  I picked her up, brought her inside, showed her to my husband, made a makeshift litter box out of a box added some food and litter and stuck her in the bathroom to deal with when we got home.

When I did rescue I fostered 8 kittens at once and I had promised myself after that I would never have another kitten again.  Now I remember why.  Kittens are a little on the crazy side.  They are full of energy, that want to play all the time, with everything that moves, including the covers at bedtime.

The dog took to the kitten immediately adopting her like she was her own offspring.  Playing with her and protecting her from the older cats.  I’ll be honest.  I didn’t want another cat.  I was more than happy with our 3 cats and dog, but here she was and what are you supposed to do when they show up on your doorstep?  I thought if it doesn’t work out she’s little and cute and we can find her a home.

Chevy is a pistol.  She has no fear.  Not of the dog, not of the cats.  She is a brave explorer of anything she can climb.  She even had the privilege of being looked in the lazy susan pantry due to her curiosity.  She is already an excellent bug hunter and would probably flourish outside, but with as many snakes as we’ve had at our property lately I would never let her out being so small.  When she is not being a wild huntress, she also has a softer side.  You can pick her up and she immediately starts purring.  You can hold her like a baby and she likes to get right up next to you to cuddle at night.  She is quite a character.  I’m just not sure she is the right character for our household.

We got her spayed this week and I talked to my friend in rescue about putting her in the adoption program.  She is driving poor Boo nuts with all her antics, and the dog has been too aggressively protecting her baby.  I can’t take all the barking every time one of the cats makes any type of sound that sounds like fussing.  I have a co-worker who’s interested in her.  I think he’s going to take her home this weekend or next week.  I hope so, it would be nice to know where she ends up.  It’s a little heartbreaking caring for a creature and then having to part with it, but we have to do what’s best for the whole homestead.  I just hope the boy, as sensitive as he is, takes it ok.