Mummyhood

The world of SPD never goes away

I’ve been posting a little bit about how the juggle of returning to work part-time was quite an adjustment for our family….

Initially, this mostly revolved around trying to accommodate drop-offs & picks-ups amongst terrible local traffic & a husband who has a completely irregular & all-consuming schedule in the land of our own start-up versus my not-an-inch-of-flexibility work schedule.

But as the weeks past, & we got more into the swing of a new routine, we realized there was another side effect to me working that we did not anticipate. Nor, did we manage very well.

As it turns out, my return to work, albeit part-time, did nothing but exacerbate Mylo’s struggles & SPD (Sensory Processing Disorder) symptoms. I began working again sometime around April this year & now that October is approaching, Mylo is finally finding a place where he can cope a little easier with life.

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Once I returned to work & when summer vacation & the absence of school hit, poor Mylo just turned into a big ball of distress & frustration. Seeing him now much happier & more able to self regulate on occasion, has made any qualms I had about being at home, disappear in an instant.

Mylo is so much more secure & stable when I am home & that in itself is a huge blessing to witness as a parent.

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Anyone who has a kid struggling with SPD will attest to the fact that it takes many different shapes & can vary in degree. And just when you think you’ve got a strategy down… a new issue arises or an old one takes a new spin.

For Mylo, we’ve always struggled with shoes – over summer it could take us 40 minutes of massaging his feet & trying many different socks to find a way to leave the house without pain in his feet. And to his credit, he tries so hard to make himself comfortable, he really does (which in itself is naturally heartbreaking).

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He also suffers from a sound & smell sensitivity limiting our surroundings at times. So once out, he often wants to immediately return home.

He is easily overstimulated when his little body can no longer process the sensory input he cannot avoid and this tends to manifest in tantrums & bouts of rage where everyone around him can suffer. Socially inappropriate & the flying judgments are painful.

Another result of this, if Mylo isn’t consumed by frustration & rage, is a high. He can become so high in his behavior that trying to communicate becomes almost impossible. Sometimes he’ll fall asleep in the moment. But sometimes not.

Reasoning & trying to communicate logically is becoming more a part of routine as kids approach 5. They may not agree, or like the way things are, but unlike with a 2 or 3-year-old, they can form a much greater understanding & thus acceptance of circumstances & reason out a means of coping. Mostly.

Mylo though has delayed development & interacting with him currently, requires the recognition that he is more often than not, needing a 3 1/2-4 year old level of communication as opposed to a 5-year-old. But as he is very tall, no one else gets this fact.

There are many more issues that affect Mylo, resulting from SPD but for the most part whilst I was working, getting through the day was actually a challenge for all of us. Both Kevin & I had to constantly check our patience & empathy; I needed time out I wasn’t able to get & Ethan, the big brother, really has to adopt a much more mature stance in that living with Mylo requires flexibility, understanding & acceptance not usually required of a 6-7 year old. He is a trooper that kid. One I am so proud & also inspired by.

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Currently though, I’m pleased to say, we are all truly enjoying the here & now. It is like taking a deep, satisfying breath, as Mylo comes down a few levels of intensity post summer. He has always been the most personable, quirky & popular kid I’ve known. You cannot do anything but adore Mylo.

Back in OT, back in school & me being available for drop offs, pick ups, sick days & everything in between – means we can enjoy those parts of Mylo more & more often. And that is making our family unit, much more, a family unit.

We are coming back together again rather than feeling like we are splintered apart & barely holding on.

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Categories: Bigger Issues, Family Life, Life as it is, Mummyhood | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

How do people pull this stuff off?

As you may have read, I spent the final 3 months of the 2012-2013 school year in a teaching assistant role in my son’s elementary school. In my “Should I even be going “there”?” post (I fear posting this may have me tarred & feathered or at the very least have me NEVER hired by the District again!) I expressed my concern about both the state of school management itself but also where my perspective on that state comes from.

I began my writing with the intention of posting more about the power of leadership….but actually I think it was more about how I felt working there.

I did help me open up to some questions & self-reflection that are always useful though.

Now when I talk about “going back to work”, I have to be honest & admit, I was essentially “working” for possibly the shortest stint ever.

So why did it have such a significant impact?

I guess because until now, while I’ve done various projects, I’ve certainly not worked part-time or full-time, on someone else’s clock since the kids (& Ethan turns 7 in about 10 days so it’s frighteningly longer than it feels).

Thus for us, it was a major change in many ways:

For the first time, Kevin’s schedule wasn’t all about Kevin’s schedule. He actually had to be available for pick ups & drop offs, for the random sick days, for the odd kid appointment. He had to have Mylo sometimes whilst also trying to work from home & he had to do a little more around the place to keep things ticking over as I wasn’t as hands on as usual (and for the record, I have an amazing hubby who takes on a lot around the house in terms of chores – even when I’m not working, it’s often been 50/50).

The kids, had to put up with a more tired Mummy initially, who was also sometimes a bit over “kid stuff” after a long day with Kindergartners….or more often than not, was totally in love with her kids, appreciating them & their great behavior & loving ways after a long day.

I had to acknowledge a number of things: how much I treasure alone time as I no longer had any (!); how much I missed friends…while I consider myself more of an introvert & often quite a loner, I also realize I treasure some very special friendships, ones that feed my soul so to speak. Women that offer so much value to my life & not spending time with them on the odd hike or the odd coffee date really affected me.

We also felt the time pressure in the weekends which was unexpected – getting housework done, catching up on laundry, the gardening, getting groceries & meal ingredients prepared….

I realized that working part-time definitely has its bonuses – I got time with the kids in the afternoons & time to get some things done….

But working part-time as a TA has its disadvantages too – the pay does not justify a cleaner, after-school babysitter help, a gardener – any of the things that would help to ease the weekend load. So once I went back to work not only were the days full with work, homework, activities & daily chores, none of which I could complete in the hours without the kids (seeing as I non longer had any)…but the weekends became loaded with those particular chores.

All in all there was almost no balance & the pay barely covered childcare. On the days Mylo was not in preschool, a sunk cost, I only broke even for the child care we needed.

Didn’t really make it feel worthwhile given the experience I was having as detailed in my previous post.

It did open my eyes to all working parents – I feel like working parents do not at all get the empathy or support they so deserve. More often than not, they just get a lot of judgement. Their workload is not at all acknowledged in a realistic way… I barely touched on what many working friends do so I truly have no idea how they pull it off AND do so, so successfully!

Super women is one way I can put it. They really go that extra mile in all aspects of their lives & deserve not just respect but admiration.

And the Dads too… I don’t know many Dads these days that work 9-5, come home to a cooked meal, put their feet up with a beer (or perhaps as martini Don Draper would?) & read the paper… Dads are just as or almost as involved in chores, pick ups, drops offs, school activities & the daily kid-routines as Mums are.

Parents juggle a lot these days & I think are often our own harshest critics (or am I only speaking for myself?)…. I just want any working parent out there that may read this to know you are amazing. You are very likely pulling this whole kid/work gig off beautifully even though most days it doesn’t feel like it & I for one am giving you a huge pat on the back.

For now I’m no longer back “on the clock” so to speak… I’m on my own clock though as a friend & I work toward launching our online accessories/restored furniture store so right now that consumes me & I hope it continues to in the way outside work would…. here’s hoping or I might just be back to being on the clock & trying desperately to pat myself on the back for a job I believe being poorly done!

 

Categories: Family Life, Life as it is, Mummyhood, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The end is nigh

Today I looked at the calendar & realized that my kids finish school NEXT WEEK… not the following as I thought.

A week may not seem a big difference unless you are a full time, stay-at-home mum.

As I am.

A week is one step closer to insanity. One less barrier between the me I have been through most of the school year & her (aka my scary Mum self – the one I try to pretend doesn’t exist whenever we’re in public).

This morning though I admit – as we rushed out the door on the morning school run, I did think how nice it’ll be to be home at this time; to be still in pajamas, or even still snuggling in bed… to take a leisurely walk to the cafe for coffee, whip out the bikes for an early morning ride….

And then the kids arrived home this afternoon & I VERY quickly recanted those thoughts (it’s a bit like when you have your first baby – you have visions of this darling little bundle, all swaddled tight into your arms, looking up at you with those big innocent eyes & connecting your souls…. only to find your left shoulder permanently covered in vomit & the screams of hunger tearing the house down at 10pm, midnight, 2am, 5am & 7am to be chipping away at any sense of cognitive thought abilities you once thought you possessed).

But moving on…. So, the kids came home from school today & I had great intentions of making our teacher thank you cards for the year. Suddenly realizing we have only 10 days to get these puppies done (don’t forget we work at kids pace… it’s slow… & messy) I thought we should get a kick start… so out comes the glue gun, fabric, pretty card, glitter etc etc.

Within minutes, all 25 glue gun sticks are rolling on the floor (our house is on a slight lean believe it or not, so drop anything & it slowly rolls from one end of a room down to the other); pieces of gorilla cereal & strawberries have been mooshed into floor around said glue sticks; the glue gun is being toted about as a real gun, cord swinging dangerously close to eye level & 2.5 packs of glitter are gently descending upon the table, bench seat & floor…not to mention, children & myself.

Outside, I note, the ball bucket has been unceremoniously dumped; balls are EVERYWHERE & numerous. However the game or intention was dropped as soon as the bucket was.

I walked past their bedroom on my way to escape to this very post & noticed the pool bag also upside down (this seems to be a theme) with kick boards, towels, swim kit, flippers & all other paraphernalia associated with swimming, dribbling it’s way from bag to doorway.

We are & never were going swimming this afternoon I might add.

One (child that is) is now swinging in the hammock – on a scooter. Yes, this can only go badly.

The other just shouted from a tree to get him down as “I’m too little to jump” (at least he has some sense of self preservation).

 

Ethan has actually been home since 12pm thanks to an ENT appointment & I’ve heard nothing but whinging about food, being tired, being bored, wanting a playdate, not wanting that fruit, that yoghurt, that sandwich… “but can I have a cookie? I’m starving….”

His voice has become like a vortex – it sucks me down into the depths of despair as the same conversation & same tantrum of disappointment play out over & over & over again – intermittent only based on odd distractions (or threats).

It’s taken approximately 15 minutes since arriving home with Mylo from preschool for carnage to descend. It took me approximately 7.4 minutes to raise my voice in frustration & about 12.3 minutes to feel my anxiety rising as I assess the damage.

My OCD tendencies quickly kick in & I embrace with dismay the understanding that my quiet sanctuary has been destroyed almost at the rate of a drone strike.

Why on earth did I relish any fond anticipation toward summer vacation?

It’s only 15 minutes post pick up & I’m already counting the hours until drop off.

 

* One note to add in happy ending…. as I finished this post I noticed an odd sense of quiet had descended upon the house. Panicking that they’d left for the streets I whipped out only to find both boys & their “bestie” from next door, quietly creating lego ships on Ethan’s bed.

Perhaps there is hope for the summer yet.

 

Categories: Mummyhood, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | 5 Comments

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