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.

 

 

2021 Summer Lunch Programs for Kids (And Other Free Food Resources in San Diego)

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I have been working on this post for weeks, making phone calls and researching. I wanted to get this post up as soon as I could. Unfortunately, there are still some areas that haven’t posted their plans for free summer meals for kids.

Santee School District will be providing summer drive-thru meal distribution from June 14 through July 30, Monday-Friday, from 10:00-10:30 am, at Pepper Drive and Rio Seco schools.  Extended school year (summer school) and students attending Project Safe will be provided with food.

San Diego Unified School District has partnered with San Diego Parks and Recreation to have food available at neighborhood schools and Recreation centers throughout the city of San Diego. The complete list of locations can be found here. Times vary by location.

Grossmont Union High School District will be providing lunch for kids 2-18 all summer. Kicking it off, they will be giving out meal boxes on Monday June 7 from 11:30 to 1:30 on a first come first serve basis in the same area where lunches are distributed.  Summer meal distribution starts on June 14th 11:30-1:30 Monday through Friday.

Other school districts may be offering free lunches this summer, but currently there isn’t much information available.

If you don’t find any facilities near you offering free lunches, I recommend contacting 211, they may have more updated information.

And the San Diego Food Bank is continuing their neighborhood distributions– Lots of produce and goodies are available each week. No proof of need or residency requirements.

There are all sorts of organizations looking to help families in need.

Even if you are not in dire need, if you need help stretching your budget, these resources are here for you!

Talk Back: How are you stretching your food budget this summer?

Summer Fun on a Budget with Dollar Tree!

**Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links. I may earn a small commission if you click on links or make purchases

Summer is coming! Here in CA, starting in Mid-June more places will re-open. I’m planning on taking the kids swimming, go to the beach, going on hikes, picnics, and lots of outdoor fun. As more activities open, I will be posting about frugal adventures in San Diego.

One of my favorite places for summer goodies is Dollar Tree. Water guns, bubbles, bubble accessories, sand toys, pool/water toys– all of these are great deals at Dollar Tree. Even though they are just a dollar, we’ve had the same water guns/squirters and pool toys from Dollar Tree for over 3 years!

One of the hot toys in our house is sidewalk chalk. Regardless of the time of year, it’s fun to draw outside!

If you are looking for some fun craft ideas, Dollar Tree has tons of fun craft supplies in-store and online. And they have some great craft project ideas as well:

 

 

 

 

2020 Summer Lunch Programs for Kids (And Other Free Food Resources in San Diego)

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I am usually sooo much more on top of these free lunch posts, but…well, life has been a little crazy around here, and all over the world.

Better late than never, so, here we go. In past years schools, libraries, and community centers have hosted these free lunches, this year, however, the list of facilities has decreased.

GUHSDIf you don’t find any facilities near you offering free lunches, I recommend contacting 211, they may have more updated information.

table of hopeAnd if you are in need of food for your entire family, but you find yourself not qualifying for P-EBT or other social services, I recommend that you check out Facebook. There are tons of local groups of neighbors getting together setting up Tables of Hope. In San Diego, there are several. Tables of Hope are small groups of neighbors that have set up food distribution tables within neighborhoods to help those who might be experiencing food insecurity.

Churches and community organizations are offering free food distributions that require no proof of need, like Faith Chapel in Spring Valley. They are offering free produce each Friday through mid-August. You can find out more info here.

And the San Diego Food Bank is continuing their neighborhood distributions– Lots of produce and goodies are available each week. No proof of need or residency requirements.

There are all sorts of organizations looking to help families in need.

Even if you are not in dire need, if you need help stretching your budget, these resources are here for you!

Talk Back: How are you stretching your food budget this summer?

School’s Out… for 4-8 Weeks!

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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.

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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?