Monday, September 09, 2013

Morning Madness

Image from Kozzi.com
Are you a morning person? Do you wake up all wide-eyed & bushy-tailed every day?

Well, I don't want to hear about it.

No one in this house is a fan of mornings, and it's just not a pretty picture around here when we're all trying to get ready for school or work. All of my boys know to stay out of my way before my first coffee. 

And that's really one of the key pieces to getting through. We've all learned that it's best if Mom gets up before the kids at least, and has that first cup of precious coffee in peace. It gives me the strength and focus to get everyone else on track. Or mostly on track at least.

You see, we face the additional challenge of special needs. Little Boo is an amazing kid, but when you combine his difficulty waking with his ADHD and ODD (Oppositional Defiant Disorder), you get some extra challenges. We must have a set routine in the morning. And we must be careful to keep certain things out of that routine, based on what we know to be his triggers for misbehaviour.

Routine is important for lots of kids (and grown-ups) but it seems even more so with ODD kids. They are wired to disagree and be argumentative. They are easily annoyed and quick to anger. Little Boo has always relied on routines, and we've always had to give him lots of warnings around transitions. So, if he knows what to expect, what comes next in the morning program, he'e more likely to comply without a tantrum.

Image from Kozzi.com
He gets up (lots of time is built in to the schedule to accomplish this one), washroom, breakfast, clothes, washes up, shoes, etc., out the door. Knowing he's difficult to wake, and that he gets distracted really easily, I budget extra time into the routine each day to accommodate. And knowing (from miserable experience) that he can't easily disengage from electronics, especially in the morning,
these are forbidden before school. He will ask regularly, especially if he for some reason wakes up earlier on his own, if he can play on the Wii or watch some YouTube, but the answer has to be no. What we've learned is that these activities are too entrancing for him, and the transition out of them is too difficult. After school he can play for a while, and then disengage without too much hassle with timed reminders of a coming transition to another activity. But the morning is different. His coping mechanisms are in no better shape than mine at 7am!

So for us, through some difficult learning steps, we've come to understand that the keys to conquering our morning madness are a caffeinated (i.e., able to cope) mom, and a set routine. The bottom line I believe is understanding your child and what makes him or her tick, what are their particular difficulties in the morning. I'm definitely not saying that our mornings are all sunshine and unicorns now - there's still outbursts (of mine as well) that I'd prefer to forget. But things are getting better.

We're getting the hang of this morning thing.

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