I always loved mornings, even as a child. My alarm would go off, a few minutes early so I’d have time to rub the sleep out of my eyes while still snuggly warm under the covers, and I would get out of bed and get ready to start the day. After eating breakfast and brushing my teeth I’d go to my bedroom, close my door, crank some tunes and dance around my room while deciding what to wear.
Music was always a big part of my morning routine. Anything from The Andrew Sisters to AC/DC , from The Rolling Stones to Enya could be heard emanating from my room. In the mornings I usually chose upbeat, fun, happy music with the belief that this type of music would encourage me to have an upbeat, fun, happy attitude which would in turn, make for an upbeat, fun, happy day. Alas, my morning music ritual is no more.
As it turns out, music, although wonderful for everyone, isn’t so great for my kids when they need to focus on getting ready for school. Alexi doesn’t make out too badly but if it’s one of his favourite songs he forgets to do anything else but listen to the song – including putting on his pants. Rian, on the other hand, cannot block out anything so having music playing while I’m trying to direct her in the morning is like torture to her – she’s being pulled in too many directions at one time.
This causes her to become overwhelmed and can lead to a T.R.M. or Tantrum, Rage, Meltdown. (please note: This term is one I read in a book about a young girl with Aspergers Syndrome called Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine. No medical professional has referred to my daughter’s outbursts with this term but I think it accurately describes her behaviour.) These outbursts raise the stress level in my home exponentially and I go to great lengths to avoid them including cutting music out of my morning routine.
Unfortunately, my children aren’t the only ones with ADHD in our household, I was diagnosed with ADHD just a couple of years ago (we also have a dog and a cat who, I believe, both have ADHD but I’ve been unable to prove my theory). The psychiatrist who diagnosed me believes that my mental health issues are not a result of genetics but rather the result of trauma suffered during childhood and intensified by trauma suffered during my young adult years. Since I was undiagnosed for most of my life I’ve developed my own coping strategies and I deal with my ADHD symptoms very well, in my opinion anyway, with the possible exception of routines.
I’m really bad at routines and structuring my time, or the kids’ time or any time. I prefer to just go with the flow and do, or not do, whatever strikes me in the moment. I have, of course, made the necessary adaptations so that I can function in the workplace and most public spaces but when I’m home, in my own space, I don’t feel the need to keep up the pretenses of a routine.
Regrettably, children who have ADHD require routine and structure, even if they don’t like it, and even though I don’t like it I do try. I must be honest though, most days, my efforts at structure are pretty lackluster. Even my best efforts at creating a routine for household chores fell to the wayside when I became bored creating the chore chart. So, even though we’ve been doing the same thing every morning for 9 months out of the year for the last, let’s see, 9 years, it’s still a struggle.
The morning routine is meant to go as would be expected in just about any home in North America. Wake up, stretch, yawn, climb out of bed, eat breakfast, (in my house insert “take meds” here), get dressed, brush teeth and hair, pack lunch, leave for school.
Pretty basic stuff and it should be down to a science after 9 years but it’s not. An average morning at my house is more like a Looney Tunes skit starring Daffy Duck and Bugs Bunny with the Tasmnian Devil thrown in for good measure. One day I know I will look back at it and laugh, I may be wearing a straight jacket at the time, but I will definitely laugh.
As an adult, I dread mornings the same way I dread taxes and shopping for a bathing suit. My alarm goes off, at least a half an hour earlier than I really need it to, not so I can have some snuggly warm time under my covers but so I’ll have the time to drag my kids out of theirs. After eating breakfast and making sure everyone, including me, has had their morning meds, I fight for room at the bathroom sink so I can brush my teeth. I go to my bedroom, close my door, say a quick prayer, throw on whatever is clean and check on the kids’ progress and if, on the off chance, we’re all ready, and there’s enough time, sometimes I crank on the upbeat, fun, happy tunes and we all dance around the living room.