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Finding Comfort in the Calendar

Jasmine is disorganized at times, yes. But that doesn’t mean she doesn’t yearn for order and organization. We made this startling discovery recently when we introduced a weekly menu calendar for the family — and her response was nothing short of transformative.

We’re getting ready for school and Jasmine asks, “What’s for lunch today?” Then her eyes light up with excitement. “Oh, nevermind! I’ll check the menu on the refrigerator!”

She races to the kitchen and starts dancing with glee. “Today we get to have lunch at school! And, Daddy, guess what?!” She flashes a huge smile and her eyes are bulging. “I’m choosing salad!!!”

Now that school is in session and football season is raging, Laurie and I have to plan meals in advance, then grocery shop for only what we need for the week — all without running out of money by Tuesday. To pull this off, we post a menu on the fridge each week. It’s nothing fancy: just each day’s breakfast and dinner plans on a piece of scratch paper. The unexpected side effect is how this has impacted Jasmine.

Perhaps I unfairly believed the stereotype that people with ADHD are disorganized. While my three kiddos with the diagnosis certainly support this stereotype, what I’m learning with Jasmine is that they don’t necessarily LIKE disorganization. In fact, my daughter seems to respond positively to organization, even if we’re having a meal she doesn’t like. If she doesn’t know we’re having a meal with cooked carrots, which are her archenemies, her hyperactivity gets triggered. However, if the menu says we’re having cooked carrots, it allows her time to process and get over it.

Jasmine loves reading the menu out loud in its entirety, and does so several times a day. Plus, she’s delighted each time she reads it. “Daddy!” she shouts. “I can’t wait for Thursday, when you’re gonna grill hot dogs!” she says several times a day every day until Thursday. Her siblings quickly tire of her constant announcements, who huff and say, “Yes, Jasmine, we know!”

[This Sample Schedule May Just Save Your Sanity]

But I can’t get enough of it, especially now that she’s writing her own calendars. Last night when I tucked her in bed, she grabbed a small notepad off her nightstand. “Look, Dad,” she said. “This my schedule for which stuffed animals are gonna sleep in my bed.” She points to a chart in seven segments. “M is for Monday and that’s when the owls are gonna sleep in my bed. T is Tuesday and that’s going to be Kendall’s turn. W is Wednesday…”

She’s just too stinking cute, especially when she forgets all about the calendars and I get to see her face light up when I remind her. She comes to me with her shoulders slumped and an annoyed look in her eye. “Daaaaaddyyyyyyyy,” she whines. “I’m soooooo hungry.” Then she throws herself on the couch for dramatic effect. “What’s for dinner?”

I don’t encourage her little act. I just say in a monotone voice, “What does the menu say?”

She perks right up. “Oh! I forgot!” Then she gives a maniacal laugh, and runs off to the kitchen. “Yay!” she shouts. “We’re going out for pizza!” She runs around from room to room announcing, “We’re having pizza!” And from every room, we can hear each of her siblings shout, “Jasmine! We know!”

[ADDitude Readers Recommend Their Favorite Calendars and Planners]