Our First Day of Thanksgiving “Break”

So, for all of you who have children at home this week…you can understand my play on words in the title of today’s post. To say that we are on Thanksgiving ‘Break’ is to suggest that there is something relaxing about having your school-aged children home all day. Now, I will say, it was nice to not have to roll out of bed at 630am this morning to drive my son to the bus stop but I actually look forward to those mornings because it’s 10 minutes that I get to myself while he is busy putting his shoes on and fussing with his jacket. I get to sip my cup of coffee, let the steam reach up to my face and slowly read my devotional to get me armed and ready for the day ahead.

Today, my youngest woke up at 630am. This is much earlier than her normal 730/745/8am wake up routine. My middle child rolled out of (my) bed around 7am only after she peed all over it. And my oldest woke up about 10 minutes after that. We ate breakfast, I chugged coffee and we piled into the car and headed to the gym. It’s the only place I can think of where I get an hour to myself to work out while they play with other kids their age.

So, our ‘break’ is going okay. My son has some behavioral challenges so it’s been a bit of a trying day for me. I am used to the dynamics of only his sisters and myself during the day while he’s at school so we are readjusting to having him back home for this week. Some of the things I have found myself saying today:

“I will wash your mouth out with soap if you don’t go outside and play.”
“I don’t care if there’s a spider out there. Go play.”
“Get off the deck and go play or you’re grounded.”
“Stop being loud and go swing.”

Now, come on, you know I’m smarter than this. I’ve been through years of therapy with my son for his behavioral stuff and I know that these typical discipline techniques don’t work and won’t work on a child who has ADHD, ODD, SPD and anxiety. So why do I say them? Because I’m frustrated. I’m tired and I just want him to listen like my other two kids do. I know some of you will get this. I know many of you will know exactly what I am talking about. When you have a child who has special needs – the same rules do not apply. One size does not fit all and sitting still is unheard of. So, now that I’ve had some time to pull myself together and put on my mommy-armor, I will share with you how you can turn this Thanksgiving “Break” into a real “Break”.

1. Have low expectations. Strive to do one thing today. That’s it. If you make it to two things – great. Keep things simple in your home.

2. Have an arsenal of sensory-type activities ready. I knew this week was coming so I stocked up on playdough, construction paper, markers, crayons and stickers. This stuff keeps my son busy for long periods of time and he enjoys doing them. It’s a win-win.

3. Again, I knew this week was coming so I went to the store and purchased extra gum, tic tacs and Jolly Ranchers. Sucking on a piece of candy or chewing a piece of gum helps children focus and stop stimming (self-stimulation).

4. Tell your child the plan for the day. I think everyone knows this tool by now but if you don’t, that’s okay. Kids like routine. It makes them feel safe. Especially kids with special needs. Tell your child what you’re doing for the day so he knows what to expect. Be sure to explain that plans change sometimes so that he’s set up for success should something fall through at the last minute.

5. Think before you speak. It’s easy to get overwhelmed in the moment. There’s so many things that go on in a day and there’s only one you. Go from overwhelmed to in control by thinking about what you’ll say before you say it.

You’ve got this, mom! Rock this Thanksgiving “Break” and enjoy all of your children this holiday season.