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Our After-School Routine

Any change — even changes for the better — can be stressful for our kids with ADHD.

I know that kids need consistent schedules. But doesn’t that apply mostly to preschoolers? That’s what I thought. But, at age 8½, Natalie still reacts negatively to changes in her routine. I suspect that Natalie’s need for consistency is intensified by her ADHD.

I’m in my third week of stay-at-home motherhood, since quitting my part-time job. Nat’s last day at daycare coincided with my last day of work, and now she rides the school bus home to me, instead of going to daycare.

Natalie claims to be happy about this change (“I hate baby daycare!”) but you’d never know it, based on her behavior.

She bursts through the front door each afternoon in full-throttle Natalie mode, drops her backpack (she’s supposed to throw it in her locker) and then…goes nuts. Some days she demands that I make a friend appear, instantly, out of thin air, for her to play with. She acts crabby — I interpret that as hungry — but she refuses to have a snack. For the first few days she had big ‘ol out-of-control physical fits within minutes of coming home.

Wait a minute. Being home for my children — wasn’t that supposed to be a good thing?

I’m working on developing an after-school routine. I meet Natalie at the door, and remind her to put her backpack in her locker, not just dump it on the floor. I have her go potty. I offer her a snack. If she doesn’t want the snack right away, I tell her that I’ll offer it again soon. Then, it’s time to play — the more actively the better, preferably outdoors — until suppertime.

Each day gets a little better. After three weeks, I think that both Natalie and I have adjusted to our new routine. Yes, having Mom home really is a good change. This transition just served as a reminder to me that any change — even changes for the better — can be stressful for our kids with ADHD.