Updated: Jul 6
Three times in the last three months, I have received a text from my daughter that made me drop everything...
"The school is in lockdown, and there are supposedly police outside the school."
I raced to my friend's house, who lives across the street from my daughter's high school.
I peered from the window, my eyes glued to the building and the school driveway, watching from a safe distance as police patrolled and watched from the school roof. I kept telling myself, "No ambulances is good news. "
As the helicopters circled and new stations arrived, police reports and emails slowly informed us about what was happening. The previous incidents were bomb threats, but this one was an active shooter threat.
Let's just say I did not take for granted picking my kids up on those days. I hugged them tight and told them how much I loved them.
This last time was especially difficult, coming only two days after the elementary school shooting in Texas. Our local elementary schools, special day programs, middle schools, and high schools went into lockdown for two long, arduous hours over lunchtime.
It was a gut-wrenching time waiting and hoping it was a hoax. When the kids were finally released from school, it was eerily quiet. Silent, stunned students, replaced the usual chatter. The whole neighborhood was in shock.
What we went through does not compare to what the families from Robb Elementary school experienced and are still feeling. I was able to hold my children again. Many of them did not. It is hard not to cry thinking about it. For this and many more reasons, I am so ready for this school year to be over.
And although it doesn't feel right to celebrate, our children's efforts deserve recognition. I believe in a small way; we will honor those brave teachers and children by continuing to build memories with our families.
END OF THE SCHOOL YEAR
Some of our children are finishing the school year strong, while others are limping across the finish line. Regardless of the result, we believe it is crucial to CELEBRATE with them. So often, the kids who passed with C's worked just as hard, if not harder, than the kids with A's, and they are ALL ready for some summer fun.
While some families have the last day of school traditions and enjoy the same activity each year, other families do different things; we fall into that category. I've met my kids with balloons, enjoyed ice-cream treats, played on the beach, and splashed around at end-of-the-school-year swim and pizza parties.
Whatever you do, please take a few minutes to reflect on how much your children have changed and grown and appreciate them for who they are. Encourage them with a handwritten note or special voice mail message. It will be something they save and treasure.
How do you celebrate the end of the school year with your kids?
As kids get older, it becomes harder to plan activities the whole family enjoys. Have you noticed that certain activities our kids consider fun are a lot of work for us? Or something we think they would enjoy triggers a whole lot of grumbling and complaining?
Spending a few minutes reviewing past fun family activities can be a great starting place. We have discovered the best path to get everyone excited is to ask each person to make a list of what they enjoy and then find the activities we have in common. Sometimes someone comes up with something entirely unexpected, and the whole family gets excited.
Here are Five Key Questions to Ask Yourself When Planning Family Fun:
1. Is Everyone Interested?
When something is interesting, it is much easier for an Adhd brain to get on board and take action. Resistance is often the first sign that something needs adjusting. If your child is not expressing interest, curiosity, or excitement, it could signify that this is not a suitable activity. Finding something everyone will enjoy relieves stress on the day of the event, and kids are more likely to get up, get ready, and participate. Making it more enjoyable for everyone.
2. Can Everyone Participate?
Are there age restrictions?, Physical, emotional or sensory considerations? For example, we could not watch Disney Princess movies as a family because my daughter found the "villains" too scary, and when we go on family vacations, we need to plan "rest days" so certain family members can recuperate.
3. Do you Need any Additional Equipment?
Sometimes, having to right supplies makes all the difference. Here are some examples: Lila always resisted singing at camp until she told her parents it was too loud. Once she was able to use her noise-canceling headphones, she was able to participate. Alex could not sit for long while his parents were driving; he got easily bored. Giving him a small basket with a book, fidgets, and word search puzzles helped him pass the time, and he looked forward to car trips.
4. Are Your Expectations Realistic?
I always find myself asking, "Is that realistic?" So often I have lofty expectations of my kids that are not realistic at all, and then I wonder, "What happened?" For some of our kids, the ability to participate for the whole day is too much. I have learned that we can even enjoy errands as a family if we don't push our kids past their threshold. Knowing when to "call it" is a skill I have developed over the years, and it has saved us from many meltdowns. Our kids will tell us if we are listening.
5. Does it Allow for a Flexible Schedule?
" Expect the unexpected" has become the "golden rule" for ADHD living in our home. When planning anything, remember to keep this rule in mind. This requires us to "go with the flow," adjust the plans, take extra breaks, change our minds, and abort the mission if necessary. More often than not, even when all the prep and planning is done well, it doesn't always go smoothly.
Preparing for the "unexpected" relieves the pressure and helps you stay calm, be present and enjoy your kiddos. If you are looking for ideas this summer, here are 100 Summer Fun Ideas from VeryWell Family.
SUMMER FAMILY CALENDAR
And if you're ready to wrap your mind around planning the rest of your summer, how about creating a space in your home where everyone can see what to expect.
When I was 15 years old, I can vividly remember walking into my friend's home. I was fascinated by the massive chalkboard in their kitchen. I had never seen anything like it before; it was the command center of the house.
All the appointments for the family were listed for everyone to see. It was mesmerizing. Having a visual board or calendar where everyone can see the summer schedule helps our children understand the sequence of events and prepare. It alleviates the constant barrage of questions like "When are we going to the park" and "What day do we leave for grandma's house?" and it builds independence.
We invite you to share fun activities in the comments below.
We hope your summer is filled will family, friends, and fun!
Coco & Vicky
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