Just Relax and Enjoy Spring Break

posted in: Large Family, Special Needs | 33

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Enjoying spring break as a family

Spring break is upon us. Spring break didn’t mean a whole lot back when all the kids were homeschooled. Now? It means a change in structure, routine, adjusting to What Do I Do All Day Without the Structure of School. It’s usually a bit rough on everyone. I’ve been a mom for twenty years and I’d like to think I’ve learned a few things along the way.

I decided to sit back and just enjoy my kids being home. I have been enjoying the fact that I don’t have to worry about school assignments or their education. I can sit back and just enjoy my kids. I just be mom, not teacher.

Day 1: Monday we hung out around the house. I did a ton on laundry. I got as caught up as you can be in a large family. The kids played and watched movies, relishing their freedom. I hung new light-blocking curtains in the boys’ room and hung some posters. Tilly took the kids to the library to stock up for the week on new books. We had ham and mashed potatoes for dinner. I made yogurt in the Instant Pot (you can watch our review here). It was good day.

Day 2: I accomplished nothing on my to-do list. I didn’t even worry about it. I determined to be present with my children. We played together. I pulled out the LEGO Friends Heartlake Mall that I recently got for a steal of a deal ($54 at Walmart). The kids worked together to build the set then played with it. They watched movies and played video games. I made pizza for lunch, since I had only six kids home and I could get away with just one batch of dough. We narrowly avoided a violent outburst when I dared to tell a child he could not have a PBJ ten minutes before dinner. And by narrowly avoided, I mean, I let him make the sandwich and he hid in his bedroom for the rest of the night.*

Day 3: Kids woke up and lounged on the couch reading books. Avi immediately began playing with the Heartlake Mall. I made coffee and blended it with heavy cream, passing it out to anyone who was interested (several were). A certain child came up stairs, took one look at the kids playing  quietly with the LEGO set and began grabbing pieces; some right out of their hands. When the kids began to object to him grabbing pieces (and purposely knocking down their creations) he got mad. He kicked over another child’s LEGO bins. He took pieces and ran downstairs to hide. He came up and took more pieces. He knocked over a chair. He destroyed more creations.

Our only saving grace was the kids themselves who came up with a  solution. They took the instructions and retreated to the girls’ room to make the Heartlake Mall with pieces from their own sets. The angry child sat down and played LEGO himself, having “won” this round.

Once everyone was safe and calm, I started making phone calls. I am dealing with the most ridiculously infuriating insurance/medical situation right now. It is unreal, but I am waiting until it resolves to mention it publicly. Then mention it, I will.

My blood pressure is skyrocketing due to adrenaline caused by a raging child and unyielding bureaucracy that always seems to win. Oh, and long phones waits, transfers and “can you hold a minutes”.  

Enjoying spring break as a family.

My Let Things Go and Just Be Present With the Kids, Enjoying Spring Break, philosophy only goes so far. Like in my imagination.

On the (literal) bright side, the sun is beginning to peak through and it is supposed to be sunny and warm tomorrow and the next day.

Tomorrow is another day. Am I right?

* if you consider me a bad parent for “giving in” and think I am contributing to the problem, you are welcome to come visit and coach me…or better yet, call Super Nanny.

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33 Responses

  1. I always read your blog just when it’s most needed, on Easter holidays with my 3 children in a freezing, icy rainy caravan in Scotland with my wild child 3 year old. I want to be the parent I read about in “becoming the parent you want to be” and mindful parent etc etc etc and then I spend too much time shrieking and feel a failure. Always good to read your blog which shows me even the mega big parent families have the tough days!

  2. Hang in there, Renee. You’re doing a fabulous job. No easy solutions (I wish there were!)

  3. Elizabeth

    Aren’t the pictures in our mind of what our day will be like with our children always so different than how they actually turn out? I’ve seen so much about Instant Pots lately. Are they as wonderful as the internet makes them out to be? Is yours big enough to feed your crowd a meal? I think I may get one later in the month when the new 8qt size is available. I’m sure worried it will be too small as my family grows and children’s bellies get larger. I’d love to hear your thoughts. Thanks!

    • bakersdozenandapolloxiv

      I use the Instant Pot all the time and it is big enough for our family. I have made so many things in it. Did you get a chance to watch our review? It can cook enough rice to feed my crew, make a gallon of yogurt, cook a whole chicken…

  4. Sometimes you have to pick your battles. Seems like a sandwich in return for a peaceful safe night is a good trade.
    I’m sorry that you still aren’t getting the help you need because things will get more and more difficult to keep everyone safe as children who can be violent get bigger and stronger. I hope things gets resolved soon.

  5. I think you pick your battles. I used to work for an agency that provided care for children with behavioral difficulties. They can be dangerous and overwhelming situations. You pick your battles because you have a house full of children. You don’t have a 2:1 ratio to care for a child whose struggling.

    People shouldn’t ascribe normal parenting techniques to children with abnormal psychology, but I’m sure you get unsupportI’ve comments all too often.

    • YES! YES! YES! This happens in my house all the time. I hadn’t had much time with my husband and after we finally got everyone settles a certain child was banging train pieces on his door and the whole house was shaking. After we removed the train pieces this led him to screaming and crying at alarming decibels. We have 4 other young kids and so keeping him quiet at bedtime is important(that and our sanity) Eventually said child wanted a piece of bread and butter. Something he requests most nights even though we always have a nice size snack of fruit and pretzels before bed. So yes he got the bread and butter. The kids got to sleep. I got time with hubby. Win. Win. Win in our house.

      • bakersdozenandapolloxiv

        Thank you for sharing a bit of your evening as well.

  6. For me, the loudest unsupportive comments actually come from me-15-years-ago in the back of my brain. The policy was always once you’re in bed you are in bed. You get up for the toilet or if you have a bad dream and need a cuddle, but we do not do “One more drink”, “One more cuddle” etc. It’s a policy that served me well when I had 5 under 6. They had me all day, my husband and I needed time and they needed limits. Then I had #6, I came home after 2 months of hospitals, open heart surgery, and Very Bad Things. I’d been home a few weeks and put my kids to bed and my son yelled out for a drink. Calm refusal. Melt down, for 15 minutes before I “gave in” and took him a drink of water. In the back of my head me-from-15-years-ago was tut-tutting about setting limits, that the older kids would have never have gotten away with that, that the kids needed as much structure and normality as we could muster with a blue baby on a tube 24/7 in the house, that kids need limits etc.

    That me was not parenting kids with trauma. I am older, wiser and less opinionated now. But me-from-20-years-ago still tut-tuts and comments from those outside the situation cut twice as deep when they use her words for some reason. I am not the Mother I planned to be. Sometimes I am much better, sometimes I am much worse. But I am doing the best I can with situations that I could not have imagined in their full complexity 15 years ago. The PB&J is not a symbol of defeat as some people would interpret. It’s a PB&J that got you through a tough situation to a new dawn. It’s doing what’s needed and what it takes. It’s adapting and choosing a way that is best for that situation – even it if isn’t one that was in the plan of how you’d parent when you started out. And if Super-Nanny, me-from-15-years-ago or the fresh, newly homeschooling mother with 5 well groomed, well behaved kids under 6 who is full to the brim with parenting philosphy and judgyness has a problem with it they need to blow it out their ear.

    After all, if me-from-15-years-ago was actually here I’d be thinking “Aw honey, you have no idea what’s in store do you?” I was so cute when I knew everything….

    • I have a friend with a brand new baby being judgy about the teen years. I always think, just you wait!
      We are all perfect parents before we have kids! πŸ˜‰

  7. Some days never work out like you imagine. I find some days are a complete write off. All you can do is try again tomorrow. Take care Renee. Xx

  8. I totally understand giving in on the sandwich to keep things calm. I need to do that more often with my 18 year old. I need to post a sign in front of my brain saying ‘He is not like the other kids!”

    • bakersdozenandapolloxiv

      Yes. I am trying to hard not to compare him with anyone else….

  9. I understand these issues. Is there a family councling center you can take him to and start without the hospital diagnose? I would start with OT, emotional regulation therapy, and bonding. I see a councilor for all three with mine. I thought since I had him from birth bonding wasn’t an issue. But it is. The behavior sounds very similar to my kido. What you can do for now is very contrary to what you want to do. Ignore the behavior and concentrate on other wins. Like the sandwhich, a win for you is having him ask instead of directly making it. Then you congratulate him on asking. If/when my other kids complain I tell them I am trying to help him learn to stop being mean, so can I try something new? Can they have a good additude while I do. Normally it’s fine.

    Or with the Legos you can follow him down stairs with a bucket of Legos and say, ” I noticed you wanted to play so I brought some down. Next time you can ask me to help you get Legos and I will. May I have the Legos you took?” Then, if he says no you say, “That’s to bad. (INSERT NAME of absolute favorite toy ) will need to go to time out (a promenade place like the counter) until you bring me the other kids legos.” When he comes and asks for it back remind him how to get it back. When he rages (and here I would STRESS he has his own room) say, “I can see you are upset by the way you are crying and screaming. Please go to your room. I will check in 10 minutes to see if you are ready to trade.” And then, you begin the long haul of every ten minutes (maybe 20). Checking. He will submit. Eventually. I have an alarm on my child’s door so I know if they come out. They also hate the sound and stay in. πŸ™‚

    • Sarah, I think your ideas sound very reasonable and appropriate for basically any child — but if a child is dealing with FAS, they literally don’t work the same way other children do. Renee has fourteen kids! I’m sure she knows how to be firm, redirect, reward.

      • Kate, I assure you when I spent over 20 minutes writting suggestions that have been helpful with my own DRUG effected kids I was fully aware she has 14 kids. Thank you for taking the time to point out how inadequate you felt my comment was. In the future I will try to align my intended helpful suggestions to meet with your approval. πŸ™‚

        • bakersdozenandapolloxiv

          And I truly appreciate your thoughtful answer. Unfortunately, his verbal skills and processing skills are low. I think this is where our major issues come from. There is NO talking to him when he is upset. He does not have the ability to process language then.

        • Sarah, I wrote my comment hastily and realize now that I was unkind. I am sorry.

          • bakersdozenandapolloxiv

            I’m not Sarah, but don’t feel bad. We are all on the same side. Parenting kids with special needs is a different world than typical kids…

      • bakersdozenandapolloxiv

        Nothing works twice with FASD, it seems.

  10. All input is helpfu, no need to argue πŸ™‚

  11. Oh, I burst out laughing when I read the PBJ “incident” (and that was BEFORE I even read your little * at the bottom of the page!haha ‘coz you know that there will always be at least one person! πŸ™‚ ) Although it probably wasn’t funny to you at the time, it sure brightened up my afternoon πŸ™‚ Some battles are best left well alone, knowing that you made the best choice for you & that child in that moment is what counts.

    • bakersdozenandapolloxiv

      Yes, when I relayed the story to Chuck, he was surprised I said no the sandwich in the first place…our new method is to pretty much let him eat them whenever he wants. But we were within TEN MINUES of dinner. Ah, well, lesson learned. Just let him have the darn sandwich in the first place. Once he has that in his head, nothing- not a steak or hamburger, will do.

  12. the Toddler Wrangler

    “My blood pressure is skyrocketing due to adrenaline caused by a raging child and unyielding bureaucracy that always seems to win. Oh, and long phones waits, transfers and β€œcan you hold a minutes”.”

    Oh Renee. Big ((((((((((())))))))))))s. If we were in the same time zone, I would make you a cup of coffee and share some of this excellent dark chocolate bar I’m enjoying right now. This morning it took both me and the pediatrician in a full-on wrestling match vs. my 4-going-on-1-year-old to get a quick view into the back of her throat to confirm/rule out any issues. (Nope, but we have a “pee bag” to paste inside the diaper tomorrow morning before therapy. Hoping that goes better than last time!) After that it was race home, nurse the baby, try to get rid of repeated daily robo-nagging calls from an insurance plan WE AREN’T ON ANYMORE, reminding me that annual checkups and scheduled vaccines are good for my child…ok whatever. We got the checkups and the vaccines covered out of pocket before you guys even came into the picture, but would it kill you to hurry up and approve the walker he’s been awaiting for MONTHS now? Then ten minutes late to the dentist for an emergency repair on a filling I just lost. Without novocaine so I could hurry it up and get home for naptime, as my (chronologically anyway) older two will not sleep for any other human on the planet. Then the 2-going-on-5-year-old was awake before big brother was asleep, so I’m not sure the big guy ever DID really sleep, which may have contributed to the almost-meltdown at dinner…which sets my blood pressure soaring as well. Because this kid is super sweet, until he is super violent. And I’ve recently had the misfortune to have an extended family member (who rarely comes over and does NOT understand) witnessing me trying to protect him and others from himself during a tantrum, and decide she didn’t like it, and accuse me of abuse behind my back. That’s super calming too!

    Oh well, I’m sure adrenaline has its good applications some days, right? Like having fast enough reflexes to catch the 8-month-old BEFORE she back-flips out of Mama’s lap at dinner? Most nights I’m fast enough. Tonight wasn’t one. Tomorrow IS indeed another day, and we’ll both survive that one too somehow!

    Good call on the PBJ. I almost snorted the coffee out my nose at the asterisk. Yep, let’s see how long Super Nanny would last with this stuff…

    • bakersdozenandapolloxiv

      Thank you so much for sharing your story! It is so nice to know I am not alone. Your story brought a smile to my face. Misery loves company…or at least the comfort of another human who understands.

  13. No judgement here! You are doing a great job, mama!!!

  14. When I had my own classroom, I had some kids with some extra needs in class. My rule was “Everyone gets what they NEED.” I felt like that removed my pressure to keep everything “fair” to the 3rd and 4th graders standard. It created a compassionate atmosphere instead of a jealous one.

    Thank you for sharing your reality! I see your love for your kids as you fight to support and give them what they need!

    • bakersdozenandapolloxiv

      That is brilliant! I will definitely be using that and teaching it to my kids.

  15. http://bringinghomeholland.blogspot.ca/2016/02/gyrostim-hope-or-more-heartache-day-1.html

    i wonder if gyroism would help with M or A
    this is a link to one mom’s journey with her son. she has a couple more posts after this one giving progress and updates.

    • bakersdozenandapolloxiv

      Thank you for linking that. It was helpful to read. I don’t have a lot of hope for this working with M because he never had a “normal” brain to start with, unlike that blogger’s son. His was damaged as it was developing…very different than damage done later. But thank you, any/all resources are ultimately helpful.

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