Managing a Household with Neurodivergencies (ADHD, ASD, etc.)

Earlier this week my friend Sam posted on Facebook, “Neurodivergent Friends what are some tools you use with others that help you with daily life, communication, relationships?”

A few friends posted that they needed help with meal prep, day-to-day stuff, and as y’all know, that’s my bag, baby!

Both my kids are Neurodivergent (ADHD/ASD and ADHD), and their dad has ADHD (combined type/ C) and because of that, we’ve had to make some adjustments to our daily life and how we function. And while our processes and schedules may not work for everyone, hopefully, these tips give you some idea and hope if you need it.

Some of these directly affect/benefit the kids, and some make my life easier, which in turn makes their lives easier.

Having an accurate(ish) pantry, fridge, and freezer inventory. I have made my own sheets in the past (using Canva), but the ones from Organized Home are great.

Meal Prep and meal planning (this includes using Dream Dinners once every few months). This frees up time each night to read, hang out, bathe, and get kids ready for bed.

Meal Prep can be as easy as cut up veggies, fruit, pre-portioned foods, and easy meals or side dishes prepared in advance that only need to be heated up to avoid wasting money eating out because “there is nothing to eat”. Also having one night for take-out. And I have a whiteboard that lists our meal plan for the week- I try and post it weekly on Instagram.

The Snack Box- I also organized our fridge and pantry to be more ND-friendly. Stuff that should be eaten (healthy food like fruit, cheese sticks, yogurt, etc.) is at kid eye level in clear packaging and is labeled (I use expo markers on my Rubbermaid containers), and I have a “Snack box” in the pantry that is available 24/7 for hungry faces. It’s got individually portioned shelf-stable snacks and meal components. And on days when I am too tired/rushed to cook we have “Meal of snacks” where I serve a variety of snacks on old-school sectioned cafeteria trays- fruits, veggies, crackers, cheese, cookies, and a drink (juice or iced tea is a hit).

We have a list of snacks on the fridge so the kids know what there is to snack on. It is a visual list (I drew it), and when we are out of specific items, I cover the picture with a piece of posit note.

Calendars– in the kitchen, and one in each bedroom. I update them weekly, plus the grownups use the calendars on their phones and we have a shared family calendar. Kids get reminders each day in the morning and afternoon of any appointments or events that will take place during the day. The visual and auditory reminders really help cement the appointment in their mind.

Visual reminders– next to the front door at eye level there is a sign that reminds us we need: cellphone, wallet, keys, and garage door opener. It’s laminated.

Visual schedule– this is mainly for the kids. I drew up a daily schedule using words and pictures. I wrote a post about it here.

Lists– Everyone has a “Care tasks” list each week that includes appts, returning borrowed items, and tasks to do throughout the week. You can read about my weekly Care Tasks here. 

Larger font digital clock with day of the week, date, and what part of the day (morning, afternoon, evening, night). The kids can read a clock, but it can take time to engage their brains and count by 5’s, but the “old people clock” as it was marketed on Amazon helps them instantly and helps a lot with the “is it time for xxxxx yet?!?!”

Using your phone to stay on top of details- I saw this on Facebook in a group and I’ve started doing this. If you have an iPhone, there is a notes section in each contact. I’ve seen them used to keep track of favorite fast food at various restaurants, favorite foods/drinks, clothing sizes and brands, favorite colors, birthdays, and anniversaries. It’s such a game changer.

The fidget/stim box– we have a plastic box full of fidget/stim toys for everyone to grab when they need to focus. And everyone has some in their room too. This includes headphones to cut down on loud sounds (I buy the landscapers kind from harbor freight). We have 3 pairs in the house and two pairs in the car. For those not familiar- fidget toys can help calm the body so the mind can focus.

Some favorites include pop-its, hand strengthening eggs, fidget cubes, fidget spinners, stretchy tubes, pop tubes, and stress balls (the kind with Orbeez are super satisfying). Amazon sells really great fidget toys mutli-packs.

Medication Boxes- We refill our medication boxes each week (both AM and PM).  The three of us take our meds together each morning at breakfast time. Our medication boxes live on the kitchen counter, along with our pill minders: Jon Cena and Skeletor.

Stuff has a place– The kid’s shoes and backpacks are always by the door during the school year, ready to be cleaned out and refilled each night. My car keys and purse live in the same spot, the pool key has a special spot. The extra toilet paper and paper towels are always in the same spot (under the front bathroom sink). These are just a few examples of the ways that we remind ourselves and create routines. Creating routines can give us a sense of normalcy and be calming.

The Family Binder– One last thing that doesn’t directly “help” the kids but helps the family, especially in times of emergency is the family binder. I’ve had one since 2010 in various incarnations. I have a really old post about it here.  It’s basically my brain in paper form. It’s got all of our important papers, insurance info, important phone numbers, policy numbers, warranty information, receipts for expensive/valuable stuff, copies of most recent IEPS, copies of diagnosis paperwork, lists of everyone’s meds, doctors info, etc. Think of it as all the info you’d need if you lost power for an extended period, your house burned down, or there was a tornado.

There are a lot of other things that we do in our home to help the kids- keep them safe, regulated, and happy. The stuff listed above is just a small sample. Everyone’s home runs differently. And this was and continues to be a lot of work. The examples above are continually changing, and evolving in our home, and are a combination of 11+ years of hard work, learning, and failing. Some of this stuff I did to try and get organized in my late 20s, even before I was married and had kids.

 

 

Daily Schedules for Kids (with tips for ADHD Family Members)

Recently, I posted our daily schedule for school days on Instagram.

Because the littler kiddo is still learning to read, I do a combination of words and pictures. I find that it also helps as sometimes when kids become disregulated, reading can be a little too much for our brains.

The Afternoon/Night section doesn’t have times because while bedtime is at a fixed time, it is important to grant the kids some freedom in the afternoons to relax and decompress from school. After being “on” all day at school, I like to give them 30 minutes to an hour after school to have a snack and relax without any kind of demands put on them.

There are of course times when that is not possible, for example when we have appointments immediately after school. Having a schedule for them to see really helps them organize and be aware.

Having two neurodivergent kiddos, it’s important to have visual reminders of schedules, family rules, appointments, etc. around the house. Each kid has a calender in room that is updated monthly with upcoming appointments, days off school and holidays. Updating those each month is something I do the first day of each month. I use stickers in addition to writing to help remind the kids of upcoming events on the calenders.

With Neurodivergency sometimes comes what we call “losing time”. The concept of time can be hard for kids to grasp, regardless of their neurodivergency. Another way that we help keep the kids on schedule is to use the old theater trick where we give them a one hour “call”, a 30 minute call, a five minute call, and then a time to go call. Grown ups call out, “One hour until X”, and the kids answer back, “Thank you one hour!” Making them repeat the amount of time they have left until we leave or transition activities puts it in their mind that whatever they are doing/playing/watching will come to an end.

Talk Back: I’d love to hear about the tips and tricks you use to keep your family on schedule!

 

 

 

New Years Resolutions: Are We Even Doing Them for 2021?

Seriously… Can we skip them?

I know a lot of people who feel like they have to do them because of traditions, or it helps them feel like they are in control. If that is you, awesome! You do you.

If you are on the fence, feel like it might cause you more stress than it’s worth, it’s ok to skip New Years Resolutions or anything else that causes undue stress. We all have enough stress right now.

If you want to do them, I did a round-up of the top ten NYR in 2018 (for 2019) here. Some of the links within the articles may be outdated, but if you are looking for something specific, please feel free to reach out to me either via email or via Instagram or Facebook.

The one end of year/new year tradition that I do is to buy 4 new calendars: One for the kitchen, one for my bathroom (next to my vanity), one for each of the kid’s rooms. I update them all monthly with appointments, birthdays, and holidays. I usually buy a calendar with the daily silly “holidays” on it for the kitchen. I bought this one for 2021.

You will probably start to see more posts from me (and my helpers), as one of my plans (not resolutions) is to start posting more now that I am able to have a pretty solid daily and weekly routine.

If there are topics that you would like to see or learn more about, drop me a message. I’ve got a lot of fun and good stuff planned (like quarterly Amazon Gift Card giveaways), and I’m going to continue sharing savings tips and deals, and of course crafts and recipes!

 

 

 

 

5 Ways to Maximize Your Routine!

991d001cb11fbb9af4e45d3b104865ea.jpgParents know that kids need a routine- It gives them stability and a sense of security. But, adults need a routine too. Working from home, routine is absolutely needed to keep me productive. I was talking to a lady at the gym today after yoga. She said it must be nice to work from home- all the free time! But really, today was my busiest day this week. After the gym, we had errands, then home to start dinner, school pick up, and prep for tomorrows tie-dye session while Bitty is at preschool.

Here are my 5 Tips for Maximizing your Routine:

Update your calendar: I sit down on Saturday night and go over my calendar for the next week. I take my paper calendars (Yes, I have one next to my bathroom vanity, and one on my desk), and make sure they match with the calendar on my phone. That way I’m not dependant on my phone all the time and everyone in the house can be on the same page.

Take Notes: I keep a spiral-bound notebook and pens in my purse at all times. I make notes about all kinds of stuff: Ideas for blog posts, appointments (Which I later put into my phone), shopping lists, etc. I sometimes use my phones note feature for this too, but there is something about putting pen to paper and writing.

Lay it out: Before bed, I lay out my clothes and the kids clothes for the next day. I also grind the coffee and set up the coffee maker. I put the kid’s lunch bags out of their backpacks and set them on the kitchen counter. It makes the next morning so much easier.

Look Ahead: Before you go to bed, take a look at your next day.  What kinds of activities do you have? Work, school, gym, meetings? I feel more at ease knowing what is on deck for the next day.

Give yourself Grace: You are only human. If you can’t get everything done in one day, it’s cool. Tomorrow is another day (literally). There are so few things in this world that positively need to be done on a specific day (bills and doctor’s appointments are a few things that come to mind). Push your tasks forward to the next day, and make a conscious decision to work on those items or tasks the next day as priority items.  No one is perfect (or insta-perfect).

 

Talk Back: How do you get the most out of your daily routine?