Saturday, October 22, 2011

Routines Routines Routines

In my efforts to work out what is going to help my son when we transition into a 3 child family, I have been looking at what helps my son feel comfortable. It has been quite revealing when I look at how simple shopping trips can affect his emotional stability. Generally Holidays are quite a trying time for us, we spent the first week dealing with meltdowns and stress from dealing with misbehaviour and then the second week, things get easier and then it's back to school when the meltdowns increase again. Needless to say we are not a huge fan of these times.

As an example when we started the holidays I come up with some ideas on how to help the boys behave better and did up some simple activities for them to do once each day. Mind you this was just one hour. I managed this for the whole week. The boys loved the attention, loved the activity and I learnt a lot about how well my son is really doing with his learning (of course I through in some language worksheets). Virtually we stayed home for most of the week besides weekly shopping and a few activities. However when we did go shopping I noticed how much he felt safe at home as when we went to the shops he retreated into himself and even struggled to talk to us.

Second week even though I did have things set up we struggled to do as much activity and routine as the first week. The change in my son's behaviour was amazing. The amount of meltdowns increased dramatically naturally the fighting did too. Overall he was not coping as well as he did the first week, his anxiety out and about increased also. The whole experience was quite an education.

What I felt that was almost alarming is that for my son being at home was a safe haven, he was better behaved, overall was an easier kid to parent and be around. It also got me wondering how much of a stress is going out the front door going shopping on the sensory front as well as the emotional front. The challenge is when bub comes how do I keep things as routine as possible, when he is staying with relatives, or when I come home and he is home with me and the baby and his brother. As parents I have realised that we do have our lives pretty routine orientated and this really makes a difference to our kids and how they cope, whether or not they have any other issues.

Next up I will chat about how I am sorting out some routines to help with the changes and using board-maker to help me with that. I will also show you some examples of what I am doing so you can see what I am talking about, I have completed one but I have a few to go.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Using technology to make our life easier (Part Two)

In my last post we discussed how we can use Google to create calendar's share with others and how this can make life simpler just by seeing what is happening when and where and by whom. Ironically since my last post I have been very busy with the some online activities and life. So next I will discuss some great systems that exist online that you can use either with your smart phone or just online. All of these systems I have actually signed up for and do use frequently, some are for the parents/care givers and some are for the children fancy that? and some are for both! First up I will discuss the systems and then include notes on how to intergrate them into your computer, smart phone or other system as available.

The name is not quite explanatory, but a basic run down is that Flylady exists to help people who suffer from CHAOS (Can't Have Anyone Syndrome). The system starts with what is called baby steps and day by day you implement a new routine into your life over a whole month which works on setting your life onto auto pilot so keeping your house clean is easier. It can be quite involved but once you are up to scratch on the terms it is really helpful in making your life easier and more streamlined. The benefit of this is that you can work with this system without your computer once you get started and set things up. But they also utilise other apps and computer tools to keep you inspired. There is a lot I could write up about Flylady but the best idea is to try it out. I discovered this when I was pregnant with my eldest, I don't do everything perfectly however it has made such a difference to being a Mother, a wife, how I feel about my home and keeping things less chaotic. It is worth a try if you struggle in this area.

What is fantastic about the Flylady they have generously worked with two other organisational systems which can help make your life easier and they use technology to do this:

Cozi (Facebook, Web Page, Apps for iPhone, Blackberry and Android N.B Not available in the Australia as far as I am aware)
This is a online organisational website that uses technology well. They have apps for most smart phone's and tablets they also sync in with Google with your current calendars as well as with Outlook and you can download a widgit so that you can view your calendar via Google on your desktop. Without creating a separate calendar (which still can be useful) like Google you can set up schedules for each member of the family, there are facilities to add school, therapy and sport schedules into each member's personal calendar. You can set up routines for each person or for the whole family. Nifty little features the apps have are the ability to send a family member a shopping list before they come home from work. Small note: If your calendar is imported from another source you can't edit the event (eg. Google).

Home Routines (Facebook, Web Page, Itunes (HomeRoutines)
This app has been designed as a stand alone app, however since it's creation different organisational type groups have adopted it and now use it for their systems, Flylady is one of these groups please check out their how to guide to help you to get your app on your device in sync with Flylady. Home Routines has now advanced their setup and you can edit your routines online which then sync to any other devices that your family may be using, which is ultra handy and much more user friendly. The App has a simple screen layout with the Routines, Accomplishments (tasks you have completed), Focus Zones (this is inline with Flylady) and To Do Lists for tasks outside of the routine. The Routines can be set to certain days, every day of the week and other settings. This developer Wunderbear is operated from NZ which is great for us Aussies and NZ readers.

One for the Kids

ChorePad (Facebook, Web Page)
This app is great for kids, it has a great layout and uses pictures words and great graphics to encourage your children to complete what they need to do. There are basic rewards you can set up for completing tasks. Each task has a value that you set, once completed these tally up until your child wishes to trade in for a reward which is up to you what they reward is. This app I believe is suited to Primary Aged children (6+up) but children younger would be able to use it because of the pictures and clear text.

These are the majority of apps and systems that you might come across, please drop me a line if you would like me to explain anything further for example setting up anything, I am a bit of a techy nerd sometimes so I might just be able to help you.

The reason why I have written these last posts, is I realise that the majority of us as parents/caregivers/partners and family members lead busy lives then add the complexities of any special needs that we may have. The worst feeling is feeling that we are drowning under the load of therapy, appointments and to do lists as long as your arm and then the house work still needs to be done, dinner cooked and the list goes on.

Take the time to simplify your life however that appears to you and whatever works for you and do it. I found using Flylady, Google, Cozi, Home Routines and Chorepad it has made my life easier. Knowing that I can enter appointments my hubby his work schedule and then my son's therapy and we can all access it on our phones or the computers, means that things will get done I won't forget things as much (with two reminders) and we all know were we stand. So do something for yourself, get rid of the excuses and the thoughts that are telling you this is too hard and do it.