“We Live in the Upside Down Now. Grace Is Pivotal Here.”
“As a parent with ADHD and possible additional mental health challenges, your world – by being turned upside down with school closures and pandemic fear – just got infinitely more difficult. Therefore, tremendous amounts of grace are granted. In short, managing your home and your children with rules that are ‘good enough’ is good enough.”
I sit here in my robe on a weekday mid-morning with my kids sprawled on the couch nearby watching ridiculous cartoons they’re way too old to find entertaining. Oh, and it’s snowing outside.
But this is not a “snow day” or “ski week” at school. It’s not a weekend or holiday. It’s not a planned break at all.
This is life under the crisis caused by the new, frightening respiratory disease.
We got the notification last night that our local school system would be canceling all classes for an extra six days tacked on to the kids’ already-planned Spring Break starting now, and I’m not thrilled about it.
Here’s why: I have ADHD and an anxiety disorder, and I’m smack-dab in the middle of a flair up. I’ve been doing well to organize my days when they are at school for seven hours. How am I supposed to manage all these people, plus myself while we are existing through this unprecedented, mostly-home-bound, wacky time?
I have no answers; I’m not sure anyone does. But I’ve put together a few reminders for myself. If you’re anything like me, maybe you could use them, too.
Get Lax with The Rules
Now is not the time to tighten up on the normal rules. Everything else about you and your kids’ norms have gone out the window, so a rule or two might have to go, too.
Lunch might include no veggies or fruits. Dishes might hang out on the counter a lot longer. Siblings might be allowed to argue for longer periods of time before anybody intervenes. Screen time might become a primetime entertainer. Kids might have to sift through their dirty clothes to find something not-too-stinky.
Remember, as a parent with ADHD and possible additional mental health challenges, your world – by being turned upside down – just got infinitely more difficult. Therefore, tremendous amounts of grace are granted. When in doubt, adopt the “good enough” mentality. Managing your home and your children with rules that are “good enough” is good enough.
Make A Schedule Only When You Can’t Not
In light of these days we’re unexpectedly spending at home, I was reading through a site that coaches homeschool parents on how to make their days successful. A major theme was to make and keep to a schedule.
I don’t know about you, but I’d rather run around naked in the snow than think about making a schedule right now (even when I know it’d be beneficial); planning taxes my brain. So here’s what I’ve decided to do: I’m gonna avoid scheduling my days out until I can’t anymore. If you’re trapped at home with no plans like I am, we can probably get through a solid day or two or maybe three without breaking down our time into planned-out chunks.
The kids will begin by loving the novelty of mindlessly hanging out. And then they won’t. That’s when you develop a plan.
What Sort of Plan?
I guess it’s nice to know that the plan — when we devise it — doesn’t have to be completely up to me. Since my kids are beyond the toddler years, they can voice their opinions. Maybe we start each morning over breakfast with a touch-point meeting where we seek their creative genius. Involved in this is some education: you’ll need to explain that, due to the respiratory illness, certain entertainment options are no longer available to them. That will be hard, but kids are often more resilient and creative than we expect.
I’m thinking of sectioning out the day into three groupings: Morning, Early Afternoon, Late Afternoon. Then, we will dump an “activity” into each timeframe. Boardgame marathon? Playdates? House scavenger hunt? Play-Doh creativity? Reading session? Afternoon room time? In-home movie and popcorn? Friendship-bracelet-making? A progressive lunch? Mandatory bundle-up and go-outside time? Individual free time? Jigsaw puzzles?
If you have more than one kid, getting consensus will not always be easy. But it’s better to fight about the day once over breakfast than at a million junctures throughout the day.
There’s something soothing about writing down the schedule and posting it. Do that.
And remember about the first piece of advice… be lax. If the schedule breaks down, it breaks down. At least you tried.
Don’t Beat Yourself Up
I’ve tried to include a shred of this advice in each of the others. But it bears repeating outright. This is going to be hard. You can do hard, but you may not do it particularly perfectly or particularly like others will. I always like to remind myself that my expectations of myself as a woman and parent with ADHD must be different than others’ expectations of themselves. Now is a time to double up on this message to ourselves.
When you want to lock yourself in the nearest bathroom just to take a breath without interruption, lock yourself in the nearest bathroom and do just that. When all your efforts to section out your day result in bickering and bratty attitudes, it’s OK to resort back to the screens. When you need a nap, take a nap.
If everyone is alive and somewhat well, you are not failing. You are doing the best you can with the brain you have and the situation you have. Smile, give yourself an inner pat on the back, and put a little wish into the universe that this nutty pandemic will flatten out soon and, with it, your sanity.
Updated on March 26, 2020