Well this holiday is almost over so I don’t know how much help I’m going to be today. But the topic for today is practicing self-care on holidays. Holidays tend to be the days when we spend a lot of time doing for everyone else. This can make a rough situation worse if you’ve got a RAD kiddo to worry about as well. Whether you’re at your home or at friends or relatives, making sure everything is going right seems to be the norm for us super-parents. So a RAD kiddo fiasco or getting to the end of the day feeling like you’ve run a marathon shouldn’t be surprising. Let’s dive into how we can make these holidays a little easier on us and make sure we are practicing self-care on holidays too.
Say NO. I wish there was more options in WordPress to allow me to turn that word red and make it blink or light up or write it in the sky. It’s a perfectly acceptable word. And used way too little by people in our situation. Particularly if our family and friends don’t really understand what our situation truly is. So when you’re asked to bring your apple-crumble-whatever that has 27 steps and 19 ingredients and takes three days to make…say NO. Your presence with a store-bought Kroger apple pie should be welcome enough.
Manage expectations…yours, I mean. I went to a lot of family and church and school gatherings with my hopes high that this would be the one where August wouldn’t steal something. Or mouth off. Or say something embarrassing about the food or get into it with his father. And most of the time I was disappointed. And why? What kid did I think I brought? What possible reason was there to think that this time would be any better? My love for my son is boundless but my expectations have to be realistic when it comes to his abilities in certain situations. And when I learned (I’m still learning) to do that, my anxiety level doesn’t get so high. And then my frustration level isn’t so great when things go wrong.
Make sure you find some time to be alone and get quiet. My preference would be outside but whatever you find that works for you is great. Some centering time is essential on busy days like holidays when it seems like noise is coming at you from all sides. Maybe you want to do it first thing to try and steel yourself for the day ahead. Or perhaps in the middle of the day to take a much needed break from the chaos. But at night when you’ve survived and everyone is in bed and you can celebrate that you got through can work too! Whenever you choose, take in deep breaths and just be you for a few moments.
I looked for some practical self-care advice to share and this really spoke to me. It’s less practical but it also wasn’t as focused on the “big” holidays as the other articles I found. I hope you enjoy.
Yes, Labor Day is Monday. Another holiday is upon us with all its potential pitfalls and disasters surrounding gatherings with friends and families. And while we don’t like to expect the worst, of course when you have a RAD kiddo you have to stay on alert for “which kiddo” is going to show up at any holiday function. So with that, good grief, another holiday!
Labor Day is generally the last big party of summer. The time to close down the pool, put away the patio furniture (depending on where you live) and for some children the last hurrah before school starts (if it hasn’t already). Sometimes it’s a cookout with the family. Maybe it’s a block party with the neighborhood. It could be a pool party at the country club. Whatever it is, it could be a crowd of people that may or may not be up to speed on your RAD kiddo’s behaviors.
So it’s Monday afternoon and you’re at the pool and there’s hot dogs and hamburgers on the grill and things are going fairly smoothly. All of the sudden, there’s a shriek and you see that your RAD kiddo has ripped a pool noodle away from another child and whacked them with it. And now you’re in damage control mode. You’ve got to make sure the child is OK. Then, you’ve got to apologize to the parents. You’ve got to figure out why this happened. So you talk to your RAD kiddo. And if it’s like the other times, the answer makes no sense.
Now what? Do you go home? Can you recover from this and salvage the day? Will the parents trust your child with their children now? If you punish your RAD kiddo for what they did, will they accept the consequences or will there be rage? Do you want to take the chance? And…good grief, another holiday!
There are no simple answers to these questions. If your RAD kiddo is like August, it seems like every holiday is a brand new challenge. I couldn’t look back on Independence Day to consider how he might act in this scenario as evidence. In a perfect world we could know whether our RAD kiddos could handle themselves in these situations but unfortunately that’s not our situation. We live in the world of the unpredictable, on edge and ever-changing.
What’s the answer? Ditch the Labor Day festivities in order to avoid the potential explosion? Could there be a way to run interference? Well I don’t have a definite answer. I don’t think you should ditch the party unless you can do something way better like fly to Hawaii. And I think we all know there’s no way to prevent the blow-up if it’s going to happen.
But here are a couple of ideas that might help calm the potential storm:
Do something with your RAD kiddo over the weekend prior (may just the two of you if possible) that they want to do and talk about the upcoming party and what you expect
Keep your RAD kiddo close by at the party. If you keep them engaged with you and show them what you’re expecting of their behavior, they will have less chances to forget!
Make sure they have their own toys, pool equipment, etc. You don’t have to go crazy but jealousy is a RAD kiddo’s kryptonite.
Make sure you’re praising their good behavior often during the event. The more you catch them doing good, the more likely they will continue!
After Labor Day it’s less than two months until Halloween when we start the holiday dance all over…with buckets of candy! Ack! Have a great weekend!
Tomorrow is Independence Day or Fourth of July. I was chastised not to call it that by a friend who reminded me that it’s also the Fourth of July in France and Italy and Nigeria tomorrow but not a holiday. We don’t call Christmas December 25th; why do we call Independence Day by the date and not the name? I have pondered this and he’s right. Now I’m trying to get better. But I digress. But it is a big day for getting together with extended family and friends. This for many of us RAD parents is sure to send our blood pressure into the stratosphere like a bottle rocket. So, how to handle the over-stimulated, over-sugared, over-peopled family get-together?
Since no two RAD kiddos are alike, there’s no cut and dry answer. Every child has a different trigger. The key is managing expectations and making sure you are as much as possible not creating a situation destined for failure. There may be some things that are just not in your control. But there is a lot that is. Here are some tips and tricks that I have found useful in the past to keep my sanity and help keep the peace. Also some other ideas I found helpful in my research.
Pay attention to the food going in your child. My grandmother had chocolate EVERYWHERE. All at the height of your average 5-year-old. Her theory was if you don’t say no, then it isn’t a forbidden thing and children won’t be begging for it all the time. Yeah, that doesn’t work with a RAD kiddo. August can eat his body weight in candy without getting sick but it sure would wind him up. Which for an already hyperactive kid seems impossible but isn’t. It may be tough to socialize but it’s definitely worth it to keep a close eye on the sugar and caffeine intake.
Make sure you know if there are will be any triggers in attendance. August’s grandfather collected state coins. And had several small pocket knives. Their house was like walking into a diamond mine. His impulse control (what little there was) went out the window at their house. His grandparents had a house full of antiques and collectibles and it was hard to know where everything was stashed. In the chaos of a large group of people it was easy for August to slip away and go snooping. We missed it early on but once we knew his affection for shiny things we made sure he was searched before we left.
Have an exit strategy. “Expect the best, prepare for the worst”. Heard that before? When August was very little, transitions were the worst. He’d get caught up in playing with friends or playing a game and when it was time to go, all hell broke loose. He would launch into a tantrum of epic proportions. The wailing and screaming and kicking were something to see. All the 10 minute, 5 minute, 2 minute warnings did nothing to stop the exact moment of terror that occurred at that time of departure. We enacted what we referred to as “scoop and run”. This meant making sure everything else was in the car, all the good-byes had been said and nothing else needed to be done before we literally scooped him up and ran for the car. Faint cries could be heard in the distance as we drove away. Make sure you know how your child deals with transitions and plan accordingly.
As awful as it sounds…host the event at your house. It might seem like I’m suggesting the worst possible pain for you but truly it might be the easiest situation for your child. Keeping them in their comfortable space with their things where there is no transition time to deal with and you have better control over food. It may be best. While it seems like more work on the front end to have all the people in your house, set strong time boundaries, hire a caterer or make sure people help with food. This may create the best day for your child and ultimately you.
The big thing to remember is your RAD kiddo is wounded and some of what they are reacting to at the holidays is coming from a hurt place deep, deep inside. This article is a great explanation of how all that connects and manifests during the holidays and may help us keep a grip when we might want to explode!
Since I just saw August last week I won’t be able to go see him tomorrow. I will be consoling my dog who is deathly afraid of loud noises. And I have 15 family members coming for the weekend. August will call and get to talk to them and we will miss him terribly. Hopefully we will have him with us for Independence Day next year.
And all I was told was, “Something happened.” I was afraid to go downstairs. But there were three yogurts and the three of us laid in bed and ate yogurt together and had a great breakfast. It was wonderful.
Of course I did have to go downstairs eventually and I found this:
But the fact that they tried this hard made my heart melt even more.
August will never understand how much Mother’s Day means to me. That for seven years I didn’t think I’d ever be a mother. That getting the call with his court date the week before Mother’s Day in 2001 (and finding out I was pregnant two days later) was the most amazing 48 hours of my life. I wish he could feel how full my heart is when I think about being his mom. And how much it breaks that he can’t. If he could I know his life would be so much different.
Mother’s Day is a time for celebrating our mothers, or those who have served that role. Remembering the mothers we’ve lost and acknowledging what a vital role mothers play in the development of every human. Understanding Reactive Attachment Disorder brings the role of mother to a whole new level of importance now for me. I have been robbed of much of that bond with my child but nevertheless I would not be a mother without him and for that I am truly blessed.
Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers and mother souls out there. Thank you for caring.]]>