Managing a Household with Neurodivergencies (ADHD, ASD, etc.)

Earlier this week my friend Sam posted on Facebook, “Neurodivergent Friends what are some tools you use with others that help you with daily life, communication, relationships?”

A few friends posted that they needed help with meal prep, day-to-day stuff, and as y’all know, that’s my bag, baby!

Both my kids are Neurodivergent (ADHD/ASD and ADHD), and their dad has ADHD (combined type/ C) and because of that, we’ve had to make some adjustments to our daily life and how we function. And while our processes and schedules may not work for everyone, hopefully, these tips give you some idea and hope if you need it.

Some of these directly affect/benefit the kids, and some make my life easier, which in turn makes their lives easier.

Having an accurate(ish) pantry, fridge, and freezer inventory. I have made my own sheets in the past (using Canva), but the ones from Organized Home are great.

Meal Prep and meal planning (this includes using Dream Dinners once every few months). This frees up time each night to read, hang out, bathe, and get kids ready for bed.

Meal Prep can be as easy as cut up veggies, fruit, pre-portioned foods, and easy meals or side dishes prepared in advance that only need to be heated up to avoid wasting money eating out because “there is nothing to eat”. Also having one night for take-out. And I have a whiteboard that lists our meal plan for the week- I try and post it weekly on Instagram.

The Snack Box- I also organized our fridge and pantry to be more ND-friendly. Stuff that should be eaten (healthy food like fruit, cheese sticks, yogurt, etc.) is at kid eye level in clear packaging and is labeled (I use expo markers on my Rubbermaid containers), and I have a “Snack box” in the pantry that is available 24/7 for hungry faces. It’s got individually portioned shelf-stable snacks and meal components. And on days when I am too tired/rushed to cook we have “Meal of snacks” where I serve a variety of snacks on old-school sectioned cafeteria trays- fruits, veggies, crackers, cheese, cookies, and a drink (juice or iced tea is a hit).

We have a list of snacks on the fridge so the kids know what there is to snack on. It is a visual list (I drew it), and when we are out of specific items, I cover the picture with a piece of posit note.

Calendars– in the kitchen, and one in each bedroom. I update them weekly, plus the grownups use the calendars on their phones and we have a shared family calendar. Kids get reminders each day in the morning and afternoon of any appointments or events that will take place during the day. The visual and auditory reminders really help cement the appointment in their mind.

Visual reminders– next to the front door at eye level there is a sign that reminds us we need: cellphone, wallet, keys, and garage door opener. It’s laminated.

Visual schedule– this is mainly for the kids. I drew up a daily schedule using words and pictures. I wrote a post about it here.

Lists– Everyone has a “Care tasks” list each week that includes appts, returning borrowed items, and tasks to do throughout the week. You can read about my weekly Care Tasks here. 

Larger font digital clock with day of the week, date, and what part of the day (morning, afternoon, evening, night). The kids can read a clock, but it can take time to engage their brains and count by 5’s, but the “old people clock” as it was marketed on Amazon helps them instantly and helps a lot with the “is it time for xxxxx yet?!?!”

Using your phone to stay on top of details- I saw this on Facebook in a group and I’ve started doing this. If you have an iPhone, there is a notes section in each contact. I’ve seen them used to keep track of favorite fast food at various restaurants, favorite foods/drinks, clothing sizes and brands, favorite colors, birthdays, and anniversaries. It’s such a game changer.

The fidget/stim box– we have a plastic box full of fidget/stim toys for everyone to grab when they need to focus. And everyone has some in their room too. This includes headphones to cut down on loud sounds (I buy the landscapers kind from harbor freight). We have 3 pairs in the house and two pairs in the car. For those not familiar- fidget toys can help calm the body so the mind can focus.

Some favorites include pop-its, hand strengthening eggs, fidget cubes, fidget spinners, stretchy tubes, pop tubes, and stress balls (the kind with Orbeez are super satisfying). Amazon sells really great fidget toys mutli-packs.

Medication Boxes- We refill our medication boxes each week (both AM and PM).  The three of us take our meds together each morning at breakfast time. Our medication boxes live on the kitchen counter, along with our pill minders: Jon Cena and Skeletor.

Stuff has a place– The kid’s shoes and backpacks are always by the door during the school year, ready to be cleaned out and refilled each night. My car keys and purse live in the same spot, the pool key has a special spot. The extra toilet paper and paper towels are always in the same spot (under the front bathroom sink). These are just a few examples of the ways that we remind ourselves and create routines. Creating routines can give us a sense of normalcy and be calming.

The Family Binder– One last thing that doesn’t directly “help” the kids but helps the family, especially in times of emergency is the family binder. I’ve had one since 2010 in various incarnations. I have a really old post about it here.  It’s basically my brain in paper form. It’s got all of our important papers, insurance info, important phone numbers, policy numbers, warranty information, receipts for expensive/valuable stuff, copies of most recent IEPS, copies of diagnosis paperwork, lists of everyone’s meds, doctors info, etc. Think of it as all the info you’d need if you lost power for an extended period, your house burned down, or there was a tornado.

There are a lot of other things that we do in our home to help the kids- keep them safe, regulated, and happy. The stuff listed above is just a small sample. Everyone’s home runs differently. And this was and continues to be a lot of work. The examples above are continually changing, and evolving in our home, and are a combination of 11+ years of hard work, learning, and failing. Some of this stuff I did to try and get organized in my late 20s, even before I was married and had kids.

 

 

4/13/2020 Weekly Meal Plan

0a5e9dab796cea8a07eabe4eb4795b9e.jpgI went to the grocery store on Friday to stock up on essentials. I was hoping to go two weeks between trips, but the kids found the snacks. This time I’ve done a much better job of hiding them.

For those of you that are new to meal planning, I’ve got an easy 101 style post here with super easy tips and steps. After you get that down, here is info about batch or freezer cooking.

I’ve gotten a pretty good inventory of the pantry, freezer, and fridge done (I update it after every shopping trip), so I’m able to plan meals and use up what we’ve got with little waste. If you are looking for kitchen inventory printable, I like the kitchen inventories here. They are great printables.

I only post our dinner plans for the week, because our other meals are usually the same each day: Right now our local school district is serving lunch for a drive-through service for kids 18 and under M-F. It’s great because it helps stretch our budget and it gets the kids out of the house for a few minutes. They also include a cold lunch (usually cereal and milk and a piece of fruit) for the next morning. Often times, the cereal ends up being a snack for late afternoon.

Breakfast: Coffee with 1/2 and 1/2  for me, and pancakes or something along those lines for the kids (they love the Kodiak Cakes Mix).  I also keep sandwich Ziploc bags of other frozen fruit on hand to make the kids smoothies when they request them (a few times per week). Berries, peaches, and mangos are pretty popular. recently the Big Kid has been on a protein shake kick in the AM.

Usually, I do a crockpot meal on Mondays, but now that we are home all the time, we’ve been having an odd combination of fully home-cooked, scratch meals, and frozen entrees and veggies. I have been posting our meal plans on Instagram too- As well as pics of stuff we are doing to keep busy.

The Big Kid is starting distance learning this week, so I’m trying to use the downtime I’ve got to do food prep and keep up on household chores.

  • Monday: Italian Feast Night (I’m making a batch of meat and veggie sauce, that I’ll be serving with pasta, as well as garlic bread, steamed veggies, and leftover pizza for the big kid since he doesn’t eat meat)
  • Tuesday: Baked Potatoes, Soup/Salad
  • Wednesday: Frittata and Fruit
  • Thursday: Pizza Night!
  • Friday: Frozen Entrees & Veggies
  • Saturday: Leftover fiesta!
  • Sunday:  Baked Pasta & Veggies

Please stay safe you guys! The sooner we flatten the curve, the sooner life can go back to normal- whatever that means.

Talk Back: What are you cooking for dinner this week?

School’s Out… for 4-8 Weeks!

alphabet letter text on black background

For us, school has been canceled for the next two weeks, and then we are having our regularly scheduled 2-week spring break.

Big kids school sent home a big ol’ packet of worksheets (about 50 pages), which would be most of the work they would do in the classroom. Little kids preschool has been cancelled, so I did a quick google search for free preschool printables so she can do “homework” alongside Big Brother. But I’m not stressing too much about worksheets.

There have been a lot of schedules and ideas posted on social media.

I changed up one of the super colorful schedules going around, included stuff that we like to do, and more relevant activities, and posted it here on my google pages. You can copy it and change it as needed for you.  And I made it black and white to save your printer some ink.

There are tons of free educational activities online for kids to do. Here is a Google Doc with tons of links that has been making the rounds.

Scholastic set up a ‘Learn From Home’ website with four categories: PreK and Kindergarten, Grades 1 and 2, Grades 3-5, and Grades 6+. Each section is already equipped with one week of content for students with 15 additional days on the way.

I’m not too worried about keeping the kids busy. Big dude brought home his school iPad and has access to his math and reading stuff, plus we have craft supplies and toys to play with.

girl wearing multicolored dress making bubbles
Photo by John Cahil Rom on Pexels.com

And failing all that- Frozen 2 is on Disney+, and we’ve got Minecraft. If you don’t have Disney+, you can score Hulu, Disney+, and ESPN for a pretty low monthly price.

And sooo many bubbles. I’m not sure why, but kids love bubbles.

Don’t forget that March is National Craft Month! There are kinds of freebies and deals here.

Talk Back- What are you doing to keep yourself and your family from going stir crazy?

Simple Things You Can Do To Make Your Stay Indoors Easier

file9831347376219.jpgA lot of people are posting about stocking up on essentials, or ways to make your own hand sanitizer in the face of the COVID-19 outbreak.

I don’t want to freak out or spread any misinformation, so instead, I’m going to focus on how you can get your home ready in case you have to quarantine, either because of illness/exposure or because of a government mandate.

What can you do to prepare your home?

Make sure that you have a well-stocked medicine cabinet. I don’t mean a years supply, maybe just enough to get you through an illness (like you would buy if someone in your home came down with a cold or cough), or in the case of #4, enough menstruation supplies for 1 period (most of us with periods have that in our homes anyway).

  1. Enough of your daily prescription meds for 14+ days.
  2. Pain relievers- Tylenol, Motrin, Advil.
  3. Cold /cough remedies- Sudafed, Mucinex, cough syrup. Don’t forget to have kid versions too!
  4. Menstruation supplies- Pads, Tampons, Cups, period panties.
  5. Any other OTC meds that you and your family use regularly.

Food– This is a tough one because each family is different. I recommend doing a pantry, fridge, and freezer inventory and make notes on what you have. I’d pick up a few extra things that are “must-haves” in your home. For us, that’s bagels and cream cheese. Bread products can be frozen, so I tossed a few extras in the freezer, as well a few extra quarts of milk.

I also picked up some of the shelf-stable milk quarts, like these. They are great for camping, as they don’t have to be refrigerated until after they are opened. They are also great for cooking.  I have also picked up some pantry staples so that we can have homemade baked goods (it gives us an activity and food!).

If you are worried about not having enough food because your budget doesn’t allow for an extra stock-up trip to the grocery store, there are food resources to help you. Check out this page for San Diego County food resources. If you are in Northern SD County, there is a list here. If you live outside San Diego County, but within the US, call 211 for assistance.

Cleaning Supplies-I cleaned out under our kitchen sink and organized all of the cleaning supplies- and I also have been cleaning the house. It was originally because we were hosting a birthday party, but, now it will be nice to have a clean house in case we are stuck inside.

A few of the cleaning supplies that are good to have on hand include:

  • Bleach
  • Ammonia (but never mix it with bleach or any other cleaning chemical)
  • Pine-Sol or Fabuloso
  • Spray bottles for bleach/water mixtures, Ammonia/water mixtures
  • sponges
  • Magic Erasers
  • Paper towels
  • baking soda or Comet/Ajax (to scrub sinks/toilets/bathtubs)
  • White vinegar
  • Oxi-Clean
  • Laundry Soap
  • Laundry stain pre-treater

These are what we keep on hand all the time. I am pretty old school. I use ammonia as a degreaser to clean the stovetop, range hood, and mop the kitchen floor.

Something to do- I think this is something that most of us are forgetting about. Without school, work, the gym, clubs, or other outside activities, Netflix is going to get really boring really fast.

I did a craft supply reorganization yesterday and pulled together stuff for a bunch of different crafts the kids can do. If you have crafty kids, but not a lot of craft supplies, a quick trip to Dollar Tree with $20 can hook you up with a decent selection of supplies. If you don’t have a chance to go, Dollar Tree has “Pick and Pack” service. They have some craft supplies that would be great- canvases, construction paper, glue sticks, etc.

I will be finishing up the basket of UFO (Unfinished Outlying Projects) sewing, and probably start on a few new things that I’ve been planning (like curtains). I’ve got plenty of fabric and thread. No trip to the store will be needed.

We’ll be hitting up the library today or tomorrow for some books for the kids. But we’ve also got Epic on the iPads, and well as some other educational apps (I’ll be posting a list of free apps later today).

I went through all of our games and pulled out some newer ones that the kids haven’t played, or haven’t played in a while. I foresee lots of family game time.

Some government officials and municipalities are telling people to keep a 6-foot distance from others and no handshakes/hugs. That’s is great to control the spread of illness, but I can’t keep my kids inside all the time. Which is why we’ll be playing in our outdoor space/patio, and the green area outside our home, while carefully avoiding others. I may also take them hiking- many of the trails that we frequent are not heavily used. It is rare that we see other people. The fresh air will do them good. If you have a yard, send your kids outside to play or read outside. We want to avoid others to contain the spread of disease.

file801244167702.jpgAnd my final bit of advice: WASH YOUR HANDS FOR AT LEAST 20 SECONDS OF SCRUBBING. Use soap. Dry your hands with a paper towel. Use hand sanitizer as needed, but it is not a substitute for handwashing. Try not to touch your face (This is super hard, I know). 

Please be safe!