Super Busy at Home

Family blog about homeschooling, autism, saving money, mom blog, travel, vacation, budgeting.

Learning Time Management...even with Autism and ADHD!

Y’all. I’ve got to tell you. I love my kids. I think they are the coolest, most amazing kids ever. This is how moms are supposed to be, right? We all think this about our kids which I think is so amazing about mothers and motherhood. We all have these rose-colored kid glasses on and we think our kids are great and we know that our kids can do anything they want. This is how love should be. This is what love looks like.

I say all of this in the midst of the early morning while they both are snoozing upstairs. Yesterday was a peaceful day of laundry (on my part) and playing (on their part) and we all ended the day being snuggly and wonderfully happy. Summer days are wonderful for this kind of relaxation in schedule and in losing track of time.

But…

Not all days are like this. So many days are hard and painful. Difficult and stupid. Those are the days when things do not go as planned and when all of our expectations are not met.

As I have done this for years now, the ebb and flow of life itself, I have taken the time to step back and evaluate what makes the bad days bad in an effort to correct and tweak. Any corrections can make bad days better. That is what life is about.

One of the biggest things that I have discovered makes our bad days horrible is a lack of time management. We are all given the same amount of time in each day and no matter what we do, there is no way to obtain more time. There is no rollover plan. We can’t take hours from a lazy day and use them on a day when things are hectic and crazy. It doesn’t work that way. The only thing we can do is to figure out how to manage our time to make the most out of our days and to get the most done or to do our best with the time that we have.

We all have different ways that we manage our time. I know that I am obsessed with my planner and am even more so when times are hectic. However, not everyone works that way.

Emma tends to have a lot of the same brain wiring as I do. Some things are different though. For Calvin, things are a lot different than me. Which isn’t a bad thing but for me I have to work actively to come up with things to try to help him manage his time better. Some things work well and others do not. Like life, it is all trial and error. Thankfully after being a mom for 13 years I’ve figured out some things that work.

5 minutes, 3 minutes, 1 minute remaining

Since my kids were little I’ve done this. I’ve noticed as they have aged they’ve been able to start doing feeling this on their own. When I tell them 5 minutes are remaining they can pretty well gauge when that time is up. When I tell them one minute is left they can feel when they need to be done with their time and move on.

Enter the visual timer

Especially when the kids were younger and couldn’t tell time very well (or at all!) we used this all of the time. Now we enjoy using it for things like piano practice and other things that they may not particularly enjoy doing every time and therefore the time seems to forever drag on. I enjoy that there is a feature for the light to turn to from green to yellow to red so there is a middle time and they can kind of gauge their time remaining using those.

Magic Toothbrush App

So this is of course for teeth brushing only but we like it to manage time spent on teeth brushing. This is an app where you push the go button and a toothbrush starts to clean foam from the screen to reveal a picture. Where the brush on the screen is brushing shows you were you should be brushing in your mouth. We love it! I love that I can know my kids are spending enough time brushing their teeth when they use it rather than 22 seconds and then they try to be done.

A Planner

This one is only for Emma…so far. I might try to get Calvin on the planner train but right now I think it would be more work than it would be helpful.

Emma on the other hand LOVES her planner. I surprised her when June camps were over with a new student Happy Planner. She uses it all of the time. It is a fun thing that her and I do together. We like to sit down and put stickers in our books and think of all of the ways to decorate. It’s an outlet for our creativity and it forces us to think of what is coming up in the upcoming days and to really focus and plan for things. It also has helped us to live intentionally through our life which I love. For time management it has helped her because she writes down all of her homework and activities to do and can visually see what all she needs to get done. It has helped her to not put things off until later that night and then forget she had plans and become frustrated.

Emma struggles with ADHD. With girls it is sometimes so hard to discern. With Emma her struggle with time management manifests itself in her becoming so, so frustrated with herself. It is hard to watch her beat herself up about missing deadlines or over committing herself to projects. The planner has really helped her and has helped me to aide her.

The Old School or Cell Phone Timer

Just a classic timer has helped us so much. Before things could take the kids forever. Now I will put a timer on for, say 30 minutes, and whatever math they get done in that time is what we get done. If I feel they didn’t put much effort into their work then I will start doling out homework but for the most part they work hard and stay diligent in their tasks. This gives them the peace of mind to only have to do math for 30 minutes and doesn’t make them frustrated when math takes them 2 hours and they still have a whole day of work to do.

Garmin Vivofit Jr.

We purchased one of these for Emma for Christmas. She had been begging for one.

We finally caved and I must say that we have been really happy with it. It has a stop watch feature and a timer She uses the time feature all of the time and I love that is has an alarm.

We will have her set it when they have electronic time so they know when their time is up. For her classes in homeschooling I will give her an amount of time to work on something and she sets the timer.

It also has reminders for chores and other things which helps her to keep on task and to remember what she needs to be doing.


So those are the things that our family uses to help us stay on task and help our kids with time management. Who am I kidding? And us! I use the cell phone timer ALL of the time!

If you have pointers or tips for things that help your family manage time better, please let me know! I am always looking for things that will help us to live more intentionally and use our time the best we can!

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Helping Kids to Manage their time in school and throughout their day to live intentionally.













The Other Shoe Has Dropped

Well it is here.

We are back to where we started from and yet somehow wondering how we got here.

A while back I wrote about how great things were going. How well we were doing with Cal’s behaviors and how it was all sunshine and puppy dogs.

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Well throw that out the window because those days are over.

To put it mildly things have been horrendous. Please let me state that life with autism has been horrendous. As hard as it is to understand the differentiation that does not mean that Calvin is horrendous. Our Calvin is great.

I always wonder and contemplate if things truly are worse than I remember them being before or, if it is because we had the good time and so now comparing the good times to the now not so good times exasperates the bad to make it seem magnified in its badness.

Does any of this even make sense to you?

I don’t like to say Cal is bad. Because he isn’t. I mean, the kids no Charlie Sheen or anyrhing. But… Ornery, perturbing, and not meaning to be rude are also words we can say.

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There’s this small part of me that thinks that maybe this is just adolescence but if it is then I want my money back because this is a horrible show.

There are so many extremes in life where I am thinking “life is such a gift” and then other times where I’m on here saying “life’s a crap shoot, here ya go. It stinks right now. Bye”.

I am sure you all love the inconsistency of our life here.

But that is the reality of life, isn’t it? And here’s to truthful.

I have found in this autism journey that it sucks being a parent on this journey.

Can we all stop the platitudes about how life is so wonderful and honestly talk about how hurt my feelings are 1000 times a day by a little boy who sometimes is just a prick and doesn’t seem to care.

Can we all talk about how the moms and dads need some support and understanding

And for God’s sake if I hear one more person ask me if I’m sure, like really sure, that Cal is autistic I am going to scream.

Yes, we’re sure but thanks I guess for thinking I’m out of my mind.

In case you’ve wondered that other shoe I was waiting for to drop when everything was blissfully peaceful, has now dropped. And here we are. Again trying to figure out new medicines to make the lows a little more not so low and the behaviors something we can manage and parent through rather than a trauma situation over the wrong olive placement at the pizza place.

Who even eats olives on pizza.

Gross.

The Hard Autism Days

I wrote this last week, enjoy:

Today was a bad day. 

Don't get me wrong, we've had worse.  But this was definitely one of our dark days. 

For those of you who may be new here, our son Calvin has Autism.  At times it is high functioning, "I never would have known he was autistic!" Autism, but nevertheless, Autism.  If you're interested in reading more about our story, you can read an article in the Family Magazine about us here.

For the past few months I've been in more or less a fairyland.  We've been doing great as a family in terms of dealing with one another.  I was feeling like we had accomplished some major social feats and we were making great strides in the world of autism. 

In fact at our last appointment with Cal's "special doctor"  I had explained it somehow like this: "He's been doing so great...do you think he even has autism?"

I'm pretty sure if she had been drinking soda it would have come out of her nose, "yeah, he still has autism" our doctor reported. 

And today, our carriage turned back into a pumpkin and I was transformed out of fairy tale land. 

The reality is this: I can plan a day of fun like we did today and then I can watch it fall apart when Cal can't handle whatever it is he can't handle.  Our reality is that frequently autistic kids have very concrete things that push them over the edge but Cal many times has lots that are inconsistent.  And when these days happen he goes non-verbal, so there's not a lot of communication that occurs to help us help him. 

Today, MLK Jr. Day we went to Indianapolis on a road trip to go to a ton of activities that were free today.  Chaching!  You know this Momma likes to save some money!  I even had contacted a friend from youth group and was so excited at the idea of being able to meet up for a quick chat and hug! But after the first stop (to the Children's Museum which I thought he would LOVE!) I could tell that this was going to be a no good, very bad day. 

To some it would seem like we should just pack up and go home.  I mean, if we know that the kid is having a bad day why stay there and continue to make a mess of the day?  Well friends, there is this one little girl who is our daughter and she was very excited to be going to these things. 

It's always a catch 22 with being a parent of an autistic child.  I've come to see that through Emma's eyes, she gets the short end of the stick so many times.  I'll say that again, so.many.times. 

So we stayed and tried to make the best of the day. 

The more momming I do I find that I struggle with writing these posts.  As Cal gets older I don't want to embarrass him or make him feel awkward.  But I write these to show you: 1) it's not all fun and games over here like so many people think it is (how you would ever think that is beyond me!) and 2) I want to encourage other Momma's that are in the midst of this.  I think we need all of the encouragement we can get!

There was once a season of my motherhood that regrettably, I made autism all about me...how I was not cut out to be the mom of a special needs son, how hard my life was, how unfair all of this is.  How life sucks sometimes. Pity party, pity party.

This starts to put me back in the same feeling.  I feel like I want to just pout about how this ruined our day and how we're going to backslide.

But I'm not going to. 

Because ever so slowly I'm learning to recognize a bad day for just that and not a bad life. 

And if Cal makes me have a hard day then that means he's having an even harder day than I am. 

Surviving those Hard Autism Days.  Super Busy at Home

We have great days too and I need to remember those.  Cling to those.  Hope for those. Expect those.  I was blessed to have a photo shoot with the renown photographer, Katie Whitcomb.  She captured some really beautiful moments of our life together as a family.  When things seem bleak these photos help me to remember that a bad day is just a bad 24 hours.

God has put me on this path to be this sweet boy's Momma.  I say "sweet boy" now and repeat it because those are the words that are hard to come to me as he's smashing his skull against my face while I try to comfort him...

The Lord has put me in this path to comfort you that, if you are in the season I've passed through, where it seems like life is against you, the cards are stacked in someone else's favor, it's never going to get better, I can tell you, it's just a bad day, week, season, month, year, whatever. 

It's going to be get better. 

It doesn't have to be forever. 

So I am sure if I wake up tomorrow thinking it's going to be another bad day then it is in fact going to be another bad day.  But I know that the Bible tells us His Mercies are New Every Morning.  Meaning, I get a fresh start! 

So I am choosing to chalk this off as one of those bad days, I probably had WAY too high of expectations for today anyway. So I will choose to wake up expecting nothing but the best from myself, my son, and from our God. 

Because Hard Autism Days are just that...hard. Autism.days.

And even though that's my reality, I wouldn't trade that for anyone else's fairy tale for anything.

Anything.