I have two sons who have ADHD (and one who is on the Autism Spectrum) and we have a lot of TOO MUCH in our days.
Too much energy.
Too much silliness.
Too much talking.
Too many fake burps and farts.
Too much wrestling.
Too much energy (It’s worth mentioning twice, especially since I have twins).
Did I mention, too much energy?
I’m probably getting judged out in cyberland for saying my children are “Too Much.”
Kids are silly!
Kids do have lots of energy!
Some kids do talk a lot!
But the thing is, some children take a LOT to parent, and it’s easy to get worn out and worn down, especially if they have special needs like ADHD.
The “H” is strong in our house (Hyperactivity) and I need a lot of tools in my parenting tool belt to help me manage the “Too Much” my kids offer on a daily basis.
Here are 6 things that work for us (sometimes…!):
Run around the house:
My twins’ favorite activity is wrestling. But wrestling goes from “all fun and games” to “I’m going to bite your face off!” in about 3.2 seconds.
One of my sons actually got Bell’s Palsy from getting knocked in the face by his brother while wrestling. Yep, half of his face was paralyzed for about two weeks. #truestory
As much as I wish that hollering “STOP WRESTLING!” works, it doesn’t. Instead, I make my boys go outside and run around the house about 10 times. Sometimes we have to repeat 2-3 times before they actually understand that mom wants them to “stop wrestling!”
Because wrestling is a constant in our house, finding productive outlets for my boys’ energy is also a constant. Many days, I channel their energy into chores and make them work: Loading and unloading the dishwasher, sweeping, wiping the table, cleaning the bathroom sink, putting clothes away, etc.
Yes, they hate this. There is whining and complaining but at 9 years old, they do a B+ job at chores and redirecting their energy into helping take care of the house (instead of destroying it—or each other!) is always a win in my book.
We recently joined the YMCA (we got 50% off of a 6-month family membership!) and I am kicking myself for not doing this years ago. The Y has a great Kids Gym time (plus child care for my two little boys) where my kiddos can let off steam while I take a mental sanity break, like a yoga class.
We’ve also been utilizing the Y in the evenings when our family life seems to dissolve into mass chaos after dinner. Even 30-45 minutes of exercise (away from the kids!) helps us regain our sanity as parents.
One on One time:
As a mom of four boys, sometimes I think what I need most is alone time (thank you, YMCA). But really, I’ve found that the best thing for my relationship with my kids is one-on-one time.
Yesterday, one of our sons was driving us nuts, but I took him grocery shopping with me for over an hour (my husband whispered Thank You to me as we left). We had a really nice time and we ended the shopping session with a Reeses Peanut Butter Cup.
Yes, it would be easier (and perhaps more pleasant) to go to the store alone, but I really do value the one-on-one time and the rest of our day got better after we got home.
The hours from after dinner to bedtime are usually insane at our house. The kids are literally bouncing off the walls and Aaron and I are exhausted and cranky; we are just counting the minutes till bedtime (sometimes it comes 30-40 minutes early).
I’ve been striving for better evening solutions, ones that promote more calm, less yelling, and better family time. (The YMCA has been a good solution some nights).
For our at-home evenings, I’ve started doing yoga with the kids. I found this really fun youtube channel with yoga routines just for kids. I am looking forward to doing more videos with them to help them use their energy in a productive way (other than paralyzing each other’s faces) and help them wind down for bed.
When all else fails, make yourself a cup of coffee, right mama? And make one for your kids while you’re at it.
I got this tip from a friend who also has a child with ADHD.
I had staunchly avoided giving my kids caffeine at all costs so when she suggested giving my boys coffee, I was like “What the WHAT?”
The thing is, the brain of a person with ADHD is wired differently; blood flow, nerve communicators, and certain hormones don’t work in the brain in the same way as a neurotypical person. Stimulants, such as caffeine, often have the opposite affect on an ADHD brain and actually help calm the person down.
I was skeptical when my friend told me all this but I was like, “heck! I’m trying it.”
And it works.
I often give my boys 4oz of coffee (with lots of creamer) after school to help them calm down and focus during homework time.
I don’t do it every day but on the days I really need it, coffee is a life-saver (for all of us).
I remember a dinner time recently where the energy had reached a fevered pitch. I put a soothing blend of essential oils in the diffuser, turned my Pandora station to Soundscapes, and tried to make our evening as calm and welcoming as possible.
It didn’t work. We had a terrible, awful, no-good, yelling, go-to-bed-30-minutes-early evening.
Sometimes nothing works when your kids are too much, even with your best efforts.
But I keep trying, putting new tools into my tool bag and pulling them out (sometimes frantically) on a daily basis.
My kids have a LOT of energy, but I have a lot of creativity.
You do too.
Keep moving forward and finding what works for you.
Share your solutions.
Especially your Happy-Calm-Evening ideas.
I need them.
All photos by Sabrena Deal of S. Carter Studios.