DIY Themed Kids Bedroom: Woodland Series-Mountain Wall Painting

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I love themed rooms, especially when it comes to rooms where kids roam. Bedrooms, playrooms, bathrooms, doctor rooms, dentist rooms, all of it! In fact one of my favorite themed rooms as a child was my dentists’ waiting room. They had raised, touchable creatures on the walls along with elaborate paintings of all imaginable sea creatures and the sky above. It was mesmerizing. So I always knew I wanted to explore themed rooms when I had a home of my own.

Little did I know that I wouldn’t get to explore this idea until my first child was nearly in grade school. Nor did I think my first project would be painting a mountain scenery. But it’s SOOOO much easier than it looks. You’d be surprised what a few coordinating paint colors and a pencil can do. But that wasn’t the only overhaul I wanted to do in the room. Check out all of the projects I created in this mountain themed room here! (Link will be added soon)

This is a progress shot. I still added one more mountain range and the sky color after this was taken.

Supplies

  • pencil
  • coordinating paint colors, 3 or more
  • paint brush for lines
  • paint brush for filling in large spaces (or roller)
  • painters tape
  • plastic or paper floor covering
  • latter or step stool

Tips

Depending on how many colors you use and the size of your wall, you likely won’t need a gallon of each color. I was able to get away with paint sample bottles from Home Depot. I had 6 colors including the hue I chose for the sky. I suggest using at least 3 mountain colors and 1 sky color. I also got 2 bottles each of the sky color and the lowest/closest mountain color since they had more area to cover.

Pick colors from dark to light. You want that fading feeling so it looks more authentic, like you’re really looking at some true mountains.

Draw out all your scenery first, all your levels of mountains. And don’t get too hung up on perfection, especially if you have textured walls. It actually makes for a rocky short of appearance, more authentic in my opinion!

Pull your tape off when wall is totally dry, preferably overnight. My started to peel the paint since it was a little gummy still. Oops

Primer is your friend, it prevents chipping especially in kids rooms. And get some paint that is washable and prevents chipping.

Directions

  • First prep your area to be painted. Line the floor with plastic or paper and tape in place. Use painters tape for the borders and edges and remove wall outlet covers or tape and cover them, whichever you prefer.
  • Next start priming your wall and planning how you want your mountains to look. Pinterest the heck out of it! I didn’t like the unrealistic look of straight triangle mountains so I decided on more bumpy gradual mountains. Plus, that worked easier with my walls texture!
  • After your primer has completely dried and is set, draw your mountains on the wall in pencil. You may need a ruler depending on what style you are doing. You can erase and reapply as much as you need! Focus on doing multi level ranges that hide behind one another and disappear in some parts.
  • Start with your line brush and the darkest color you chose. Follow your lowest pencil lines keeping the paint below them. Trace your lines all the way across being careful not to mix up your next set of mountain ranges.
  • Once the line is done, start filling in the space below with the same color. Do your edging and borders at the corners and baseboards.
  • When done rinse your brushes or use a separate set.
  • Then move onto the next, slightly lighter, color. You’ll do the top lines first, then come back and do the bottom line where the 2 colors meet. After that you’ll fill in the space. Watch out for dripping!
This is the completed scene! I don’t think this picture does it justice, it looks way cooler in person.

Give it a go, show me your skills and talents! Stay tuned for the other crafts in this mountain themed room!

Parenting a Person With ADHD: Chapter 2-Reward System

This post may contain affiliate links. Please view our affiliate policy and our terms and conditions here. I am not a mental health professional, all the opinions in this post are my own and reflect what has worked for me. None is of this is given as medical or professional advice. Please seek professional advice in the matters of mental/physical health should you or a loved one need it.

This is the 2nd chapter in the series “Parenting a Person With ADHD”. If you have not already, please read the prologue here and chapter 1 here.

Now onto the reward system and the correct way to do positive reinforcement. Because yes there is a wrong way…in fact I’d say there’s lots of wrong ways.

Photo by Anthony on Pexels.com

When we first tried positive reinforcement we did the typical sticker chart but we really didn’t have a true set system, let alone a successful one. Some thing we did implement (that was terribly wrong, at least for our kid) was taking the stickers back if he earned a negative consequence from poor choices. This was confusing for him because the positive choices he made weren’t getting fully rewarded and instead were getting wiped out by negative choices. So the focus still ended up on the negative, not the positive. On top of this, the rewards weren’t the most tangible or as instant as he needed at the time. He needed to be able to have literally instant results. A lot of kids who struggle with defiance need this approach as well.

When we started seeing the counselor, she had us use tickets (you could also use marbles, hence the photo ) that he gets to put into a jar and he can use them to earn prizes. The important part here is that the tickets need to have currency for the kid! They have to feel valuable to the kid in order to be effective. That value comes from the prizes or rewards they can get using the tickets or marbles!

Photo by Artem Beliaikin on Pexels.com

The prizes we did initially were coupons (homemade or bought, either are great, one is simpler ) with things like “Have a pajama day” or ” You pick dinner” or “Get out of one chore”. At one point, we opted to make an actual prize box that our kiddo picked items from, but it didn’t seem as motivating for him. Currently he uses his tickets for screen time and other special to him things: watch his favorite show, use his tablet, go to the park, choose a family activity or game night. He still enjoys the coupons for special occasions or once in a blue moon.

For older kids they can use their tickets for trips or treats such as a trip to the ice cream parlor or the beach or for a slumber party (if you do those) or whatever else they enjoy and is feasible for you to give/do consistently. Alone time with you can also be a reward they earn; they pick the activity for you both to enjoy and use however many tickets to do said activity.

Be cautious with how large you make the goals. They need to be attainable in a small amount of time when starting out (like 5 or 10 tickets for a prize) and you can slowly increase the number of tickets needed as time goes on and your child’s skills improve. You want them working for those rewards, not having them handed out like candy on Halloween.

It’s also important to really give tickets for EVERY positive thing you see your child doing in the beginning. “I noticed you stayed calm when it was time to go, here’s a ticket” or if you’re not there yet “You did a great job keeping your hands and feet to yourself when you were upset” or, my personal favorite “Thank you for not peeing your pants while on time-out, you made a good choice. Here’s your ticket”.

Photo by Hannah Nelson on Pexels.com

Yes I’ve said every single one of these and more. So. Many. More. Eventually you will get to the point where you work on specific things you want your child to do differently. Like brushing teeth without yelling, or listening the first time (I still have my hopes up for this one), or not talking back. As time goes by they will have to work harder to earn the tickets to get the prizes. Just start small and find the positive, no matter how little it may be.

Next time on Parenting a Person With ADHD: The Calm Down Corner

Parenting a Person With ADHD: Chapter 1-Ignoring The Negative

This post may contain affiliate links. Please view our affiliate policy and our terms and conditions here. I am not a mental health professional, all the opinions in this post are my own and reflect what has worked for me. None is of this is given as medical or professional advice. Please seek professional advice in the matters of mental/physical health should you or a loved one need it.

This is the 2nd part in my new series “Parenting a Person With ADHD”.

In the prologue, I went over how we as a family got to where we are today and briefly discussed some of the tools we used. In this chapter I will be going over in detail the first tool: ignoring the negative nonsense.

Photo by Madeline Bassinder on Pexels.com

To actively ignore someone takes skill, patience, and practice. To actively ignore your own offspring while they are attempting, very hard, to REGAIN your attention….well that takes the above things and some direct, frequent support. Either from someone who’s been through it or a professional skilled in managing cases like this. Someone whom can give you reassurance. Because this one skill is probably one of the most important and effective.

We started living by the rule: if it wasn’t hurting someone or something, and wouldn’t lead to undesired behaviors later, it could be ignored.

To achieve this can sometimes be tricky. There’s a lot of behaviors/actions that fall into a grey area. I’ve found the easiest way to sort out some of those in between things was to ask ourselves “Is this an actual problem or do I just have a problem with him doing this?”. For example, he used to love being upside down on the couch. I had to readjust myself and learn to be ok with him having his legs up in the air. My only rule was his legs had to be still-no kicking or squirming as that becomes dangerous to others. Now, he doesn’t sit like that anymore. I let it go, and so did he.

Photo by Keira Burton on Pexels.com

You may be familiar with the saying you get more of what you pay attention to and that is quite true. Especially for a child with ADHD who is defiant and/or has ODD. They like to know they can get a rise out of you, it gives them a sense of control in a world where they have very little control. They like being in control (I don’t blame them, so do most of us) and have a hard time when they are not. Ensue melt down.

The way to break this cycle is to take your own control back…by not giving into the cycle in the first place. When you actively ignore your child’s negative behavior they will (eventually) see they no longer effect your mood/actions with how they choose to act. So they will stop, because the norm has changed. Then they will learn to re-set their brain into active choice making rather than instant response.

Now, keep in mind this will take time. Sometimes a long time. And you cannot, I repeat CAN NOT, give up anywhere in the middle of this transition period. Otherwise you will have just reinforced all over again that they can get a rise out of you, and it will be that much harder to get them, and yourself, to make lasting and meaningful change. This is really a time when consistency counts.

Photo by Ketut Subiyanto on Pexels.com

This is usually the most exhausting part of parenting a defiant child for many. You don’t have room for many mistakes and you don’t have the luxury to throw in the towel. For our son we still have to do this every so often! He’ll be turning 7 this year and we started this when he was 5, just to give you an idea of the road ahead. But he rarely ever needs this now, and he never throws fits like he used to. But the reality of raising a person with ODD or defiant ADHD is that these issues will never fully go away; these skills will always be needed.

Stay tuned for the next chapter: Reward System

Parenting a Person with ADHD/ODD and Anxiety

This post likely contains affiliate links. Please view our affiliate policy here and our terms and conditions here. I am not a mental health professional, all the opinions in this post are my own and reflect what has worked for me. None is of this is given as medical or professional advice. Please seek professional advice in the matters of mental/physical health should you or a loved one need it.

When I held my son for the first time I new it was going to be an adventurous journey to raise him. However I never expected the 3 year old him to be hitting walls, slamming doors, physically fighting us, and yelling louder than I thought humanly possible. I blamed it on the poor examples at his daycare (he was fine until he moved to the 3 year old’s room and came across some VERY out of control examples). We even moved schools to follow a teacher we really loved…who ended up not being his classroom teacher.

But things started to get worse. He was biting (and being bitten) and spitting at his classmates and teachers. One day I went to take him to daycare and he started crying, begging me not to leave him there. I was devastated. During the conference with the director and teacher, his teacher informed us that she had to “Bear Hug” him two separate times when he would just not cooperate and she felt he would hurt himself or others. This was the first time I had heard anything about this situation occurring and needless to say, I was livid at the lack of transparency from a professional childcare agency. We pulled him out that very day.

After 2 other day cares, countless issues and getting no where with the advice the “child care professionals”(they may have a degree but I don’t see any clinical practice going on in these places) had given us, we decided to keep him home until kindergarten. There were multiple factors leading up to this decision but it seemed like the best option: keep him home and try to undo all the damage done while he’d been in daycare. Which meant I left my career to become a stay at home mom…while having a complicated pregnancy and a child who constantly defied me. Oh man do I not miss those days. Any time I would ask him to do something, anything!, he turned into a tiny dragon with a big furious temper. So naturally I suited up in my battle armor and put him on time-out….endlessly….and to no avail. I felt like I had no idea what I was doing, but I couldn’t just do nothing! I kept asking myself over and over…

Why is this happening? What am I doing wrong? I’m following what the articles and people are saying to do but it’s just making things worse!

And it continued to get worse, until we hunted down a mental health professional. By that I mean a counselor. One who specialized not only in “problem” aneurotypical children but the only one in our state who was trained and actively using CPP (Child Parent Psychotherapy). I found her on my own; not through a referral, not through my child’s pediatrician office, BY. MY. SELF. I did the leg work. And I found that incredibly frustrating and…well just wrong!

Why hadn’t my son’s doctor sent us to therapy from the get go when we came to him with problems? To his credit he sent a developmental pediatrician referral but we wouldn’t get in there until over a year later for our first appointment! We needed help now before my child seriously hurt someone, which he very nearly did when he kicked a child in the head at school! Yes that really happened. I know, I couldn’t believe it either.

Also why had NONE of the day cares given us a name, ANY name of someone who could help us deal with our child’s issues? Are they not in the position to write down a name and number and say “I think this person might be able to help”. They are in the field of child development so what the hell? Even the school counselor in kindergarten had questionable methods. “Throw them in the trash can” referring to my son’s emotional upset in an attempt to teach him to let things go….I still roll my eyes thinking about her saying that. I felt so alone trying to find help for my son, and for myself.

What I learned, the hard way, was this:

  • I will always need to be the advocate for my child, it’s my responsibility to push the bolder (sometimes up-hill) towards the goal
  • I don’t have to push that boulder alone, nor should I!

Finding my son a specialized counselor was literally LIFE SAVING. She gave me my sanity back and tools of how to deal with my child when he was being defiant. She was the one who figured out he not only had ADHD but ODD and a sprinkle of anxiety to top it all off. She helped me to understand where my son was at mentally when he was in the midst’s of a large fit….he was hurting, he was lost, and he was scared. He didn’t understand what was happening to him and he didn’t know how to handle those really big emotions rolling around inside of him, let alone actually being in a state to talk about those emotions. I learned how to help him through those scenarios in the way that HE needed me to, not how I thought he needed me to.

Our counselor also helped me to recognize and deal with my own past traumas, such as my son’s biological father being abusive and the sort of coping mechanisms I was auto-piloting to when handling my son. I came to realize that his behavior was essentially triggering me because it was so similar to my ex’s behavior. Yaaa…that’s about as fun as it sounds..

So what tools did we gain and how did we apply them in real life?

  • We (husband and myself) actively ignored the negative nonsense
  • We swapped our sticker chart for tickets and made a reward system using those tickets
  • We saved time-outs for those severe outbursts and created a calm down corner with special toys
  • We used deep breathing A LOT, and everyone participates-even the baby!
  • We had the school join in with the tickets for a seamless continuation of the reward system

Over the next few weeks I will be going in depth into each of the tools listed above, explaining how we practice them in our home and what changes we’ve seen after implementing them.

I can say though, if you told me 2 years ago that my son would now be making friends, not hurting others at school, and keeping his temper controlled at home…I would have laughed you straight in the face. I didn’t think that we would be where we are now. I certainly didn’t believe we could have gotten here so soon! But with proper guidance and some serious will power, we achieved a level of functionality that I hope my son will be able to keep going for his whole life.

Stay tuned for the next episode in the series “Parenting A Person”.

6 Holistic Ways I Help My Hyperactive Child Calm Down

This post may contain affiliate links. Please view our affiliate policy and our terms and conditions here. I am not a mental health professional, all the opinions in this post are my own and reflect what has worked for me. None is of this is given as medical or professional advice. Please seek professional advice in the matters of mental/physical health should you or a loved one need it.

Evenings in ADHD households tend to be well…kind of wild. I don’t know why but there’s some sort of common phenomenon with kids who have this condition. They get a crazy second wind just as it becomes time to wind down for the day. This is very true in our household as well; roughly 5pm my little dude will start to turn rambunctious: running, jumping on the couch, trying to pillow fight EVERY body, and just generally squirreling around. All of this is simply not allowed in the house because it only escalates things with him.

I’ve had to implement some regular go-to tactics to help him ease into the evening routine. I can say that even if you only do ONE a night, it will make your life a lot easier! Check out the list below.

  • Calming tea

I’m a big fan of tea and surprisingly both my boys also really love this comforting drink! My son’s favorite so far is this Lavender Chamomile blend, it’s light and fragrant and a good way to introduce kids to tea if yours is new to it. They also have a probiotic formula too! Taking the time to sip some tea also helps to slow down and mindful practices.

  • Mindfulness

Another great way to practice mindfulness and to keep calm is by reading. We enjoy this book “Mindful Monkey, Happy Panda” quite a bit in our home. It explains how to be mindful in a very easy to understand way so it’s great for beginners (including adult beginners).

  • Aromatherapy

I invested in diffusers early on, knowing how much of a difference aromatherapy makes in health. I have one in most of the rooms of our house including both boys bedrooms. The baby has the larger one, while my big guy has this smaller one. After you fill it to the specified amount with distilled water, add a 3-5 drops of essential oils. You can do lavender or make your own blend using a few different calming kinds. I personally love the blends Serene and Solace from this oil set. I add 3 drops of each, turn on the diffuser before story-time or songs, and let it work its magic. He always says it smells so nice and I can visibly watch him start to melt into the bed. It’s GREAT! If I can’t do anything else on this list, I will always make sure to do this! It makes the biggest impact on my son’s energy levels by far.

  • Journaling

This has been mentioned in my other posts about successful skills for kids with ADHD and briefly mentioned in my son’s daily lists. It falls into a similar category as mindfulness and we usually alternate between the two through out the week, but for older kids you might be able to achieve doing both on a nightly basis. I find as they get older, the journaling becomes a great tool for getting out those inner thoughts and feelings that sometimes are difficult to verbally discuss. It helps to get those emotions in order so that they can process them, and heal if needed, before moving on. We dedicate about 15 minutes for journaling time and this is the one my kiddo is currently using. And if your child isn’t big on writing, here’s some pretty awesome coloring books to get creativity flowing out and zen vibes in.

  • Lullaby

It may seem a little old fashioned or worn down but this is the ONLY thing that guarantees my kid gets to sleep without fail every time. Everything above helps to ease his busy-ness but if he’s struggling to actually go to sleep, I sing him a few songs and he’s set until morning. It’s also a time that just he and I make for each other; it’s a nice and peaceful way to finish off the day. If you’re musically challenged (no shame) this CD by Jewel is one of our favorites. It’s played in both my boys nurseries so it’s very sentimental to me and my husband.

  • Meditation

I’ll be honest this is one we don’t do very often right now. It’s extremely difficult for him to lay down and listen to guided meditation when he’s so full of energy at the end of the day. But he DOES love meditation in book form! This book focuses on a multi-muscle relaxation technique but it feels more like a game to a kid. It’s story-time, meditation, and bodily control all in one! Also, YouTube has a ton of great free guided meditation videos for those kiddos who are ready for the challenge!

All of these items on this list are things we do at bedtime as part of our daily routine but you can (and should!) absolutely do them at any time of day when your little needs to chill out or unwind.

Are there any things you do at home that aren’t on this list?

My Son’s Daily List’s

This post may contain affiliate links. Please view our affiliate policy and our terms and conditions here. I am not a mental health professional, all the opinions in this post are my own and reflect what has worked for me. None is of this is given as medical or professional advice. Please seek professional advice in the matters of mental/physical health should you or a loved one need it.

My older son has a rough time taking direction well (you can read about why here). That being said, we’ve had to come up with some creative ways to get around this. One of the best ways we’ve found so far is making a list of the tasks he needs to accomplish. And it’s not just one list but three: morning, afterschool, and evening. I’ll get into the details of each below. Here’s some of the other tactics we use at home to help our son be successful.

Each list has the daily tasks that need to get done at that time of day written down under the corresponding time frame. So brushing teeth is under both the morning and evening columns, while cleaning out backpack is only in the afterschool column. In addition to this, I put a sort of open category in the afterschool section for an extra chore. Its important to me that my kids participate in household duties that are more than just their self-care duties. I want them to have realistic expectations of what life is like both on their own and in a family of their own or with roommates.

The additional chore is something of my choosing and is typically stuff he’s done many times and something he can confidently do solo. If it’s ever a new chore, I will do it with him a few times to help him feel comfortable. Then I yeet him to the wind because he is one who will learn best if he solves problems on his own with supervision and support as he needs it, but without interference.

Now without further ado here’s the lists in chronological order

  • MORNING
  1. Get dressed
  2. Take pill
  3. Comb/Style Hair
  4. Brush Teeth
  5. Wash Face
  6. Sunscreen/Chapstick
  7. Fill Water Bottle
  8. Gather Backpack, Lunch, & Water Bottle
  9. Eat Breakfast if not already done so
  10. Shoes & Jacket
  • AFTER SCHOOL
  1. Clean Out Car
  2. Hang Jacket/Shoes Away
  3. Empty Backpack
  4. Clean Lunch Bag
  5. Wash Hands
  6. Take Out Compost & Recycle
  7. Help Mom With Chores
  • EVENING
  1. Make Lunch
  2. Shower
  3. PJs
  4. Clothes For Tomorrow
  5. Take Pill
  6. Read/Meditate/Journal
  7. Brush Teeth
  8. Wash Face/Chapstick
  9. Go Potty
  10. Songs/Stories & Bedtime

As you can see these are really just daily living self care sort of tasks. But my son will NOT do them unless prompted and WILL throw a fit when told to do them one by one. So now all we have to say is “Go do your list” and he does. At first it was an adjustment but in less than a week he was going to do some of the tasks without me even having to say anything. It helps him (and me) stay on a routine too, which is really important for most kids but especially those who are aneurotypical.

My son is almost 7 and is able to read well. But prior to this we did a chart with hand drawn pictures, cut half the page in wide strips that could be folded over, and Velcro tabs to create an interactive type of chart that could be flapped open or closed depending on if the task was completed in the AM or the PM. If all the tabs were closed, it meant he had done everything he needed to in the AM. If they were all open it meant the same but for the PM. This worked great when he was in preschool and even into kindergarten. I also labeled all the pictures so he would learn what the words meant.

Having these lists has made our household a whole lot calmer. My son doesn’t feel like I nag at him and I don’t feel like he’s ignoring me anymore (at least when it comes to this). It’s allowed us to regain the peace in our relationship that we were so craving.

What are some of the things you use for your kiddo to help them?

Sanitation in Cloth Diapering and Wipes

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So you want to cloth diaper but aren’t sure about the germ factor or the cleanliness of your washing machine? Many people don’t realize a vast majority of sanitization for laundry occurs during the drying cycle, not the washing cycle. Yes you can use water 120℉ to help but most of the germs are still going to be killed in the dryer. HOWEVER this isn’t necessarily true if you don’t have that dryer set to high heat, which most fabrics can’t tolerate, especially not PUL cloth diapers. *PUL is polyurethanelaminate which is what most diaper covers use to keep moisture in the pad, not leaking through.

So how do you get them sanitized?! Well there’s a few methods

  • Solar Sanitization

This (and the next) is the method I use, even in winter. Hang your liners and pads on the line in direct sunlight and let them dry. UV sanitization is a great resource from our nearest star and it’ll cut down on your electricity. In winter, hang them on hangers clipped to one another and put in your sunniest window! Ta-da!

  • Dryer

You can put your pads and wipes in the dryer on high heat, just not your liners. You need a minimum of 25 minutes of heat but my pads don’t dry that fast anyway. If you have all-in-one diapers you’re better off using anther method.

  • Lysol Added to Wash

I have not personally tried this, but I if I smell bacteria build up I think I’ll give this a go over a bleach bath if the vinegar doesn’t do anything (vinegar hasn’t let me down before). First, verify that the Lysol you have is laundry appropriate. Then add 1/4 to 1/2 c to your laundry and wash like regular. For cloth diapers I would do this in your last wash so you already have clean diapers and the sanitizing can get in there and do its job.

  • Bleach

This one is iffy with cloth diapers. Some manufacturers will void the warranty if you use bleach so do your research and be warry. You fill your bath tub half way with cool water, 1/2 c to 1c bleach, and CLEAN diapers. Stir them around and let them soak for 2-4 hours, stirring occasionally. Then you drain the water and rinse with HOT water and put the diapers through another wash cycle. There’s lots of variations on this method throughout the internet.

  • Vinegar

One of my personal fav’s and a go to if my baby’s diapers start to get that stink caused from bacteria build up (it just sorta comes with the territory of cloth diapering until you get your wash routine down). I do my first 2 washes and then add white distilled vinegar to the fabric softener chamber until full. I set the setting to extra rinse with fabric softener and voila!

Always check your manufacturer warranty and what they recommend using. Also, cloth diaper groups on Facebook can be helpful when solving wash problems.

Also if you’re interested, we use these diapers and these diapers and here are the main pads we use, plus these heavy duty pads as our little got bigger. We use planet wise for wet bags and have NEVER been let down. Love them, love them, love them! Plus you can use the wet bags as swim gear holders and water protection when the kids are older!

Which way do you sanitize your laundry?

Normal Is Overrated

This post may contain affiliate links. Please view our affiliate policy and our terms and conditions here. I am not a mental health professional, all the opinions in this post are my own and reflect what has worked for me. None is of this is given as medical or professional advice. Please seek professional advice in the matters of mental/physical health should you or a loved one need it.

Today I watched a Pixar Short titled “Float” with my son. I’ll give a brief description so *spoiler alert*. It’s the tale about a father and his little boy, who is quite special. The child is able to float in the air, completely of his own accord. At first, the father is amazed and just looks at his child in wonderment; then he sees neighbors and rushes to hide his boys gift. Of course that doesn’t pan out and he ends up hiding inside the house with his child. I’ll end my recap there, you can check out the film for yourself on YouTube but what started as a whimsical lil’ clip I was sharing with my eldest kiddo turned into a very personal realization moment.

After the film itself ended, they posted “Dedicated with love and understanding to all families with children deemed different”*. Reading that was almost like a forehead slap. It made me go back in my mind and replay all the moments that other characters were staring and glaring at the boy and his dad, and the dad is apologetically chasing after his child only to end up yelling “Why can’t you be normal!”* in desperation. How they spent a lot of time indoors more or less hiding from society and the dad has to prep the kid before they can even go out for a walk.

It made me wonder…have I ever felt that way about my child?

I already knew my answer…

It’s hard not to feel shame saying this but yes I have wished my child was “normal”, I have wished my child was simpler and easier to handle. I don’t mean to, but I am guilty of comparing my son to other children in his age group and even family members. It never feels good to say that I have done those things; all I can do is give myself grace and always do better each day. This got me to thinking “What the hell is normal anyway? Why do so many people (if not most) want to be considered normal?”

Like, real talk. Tell me if this sounds familiar: it’s good to stand out-but not too much. You should be yourself and authentic-as long as you still fit into the “norm” and aren’t too far off that spectrum. You can have fun and be silly-but don’t look crazy or sloppy. Maybe it’s just me but I’ve certainly felt those pressures in my daily life. We all want to fit in, that’s part of human nature. But this notion of “normal” is something intangible. Normal can and does mean SO many things! What’s normal for one may be way weird for another. We as humans seem so adamant on putting ourselves and others into pre-packaged boxes. Then, how do we prevent it happening (and doing it) to our children?

Acceptance. Accepting our children exactly as they are and learning to see the beauty in the conditions they may have. Letting them just BE; be themselves and be free. At the end of the film the father accepts his son for who he is and enjoys him as he is. No pressure, no chains or ropes, just pure love. Here’s the kicker though, everyone is staring! I thought this was really important because in typical films we usually see everyone accept the outcast, but here it was just the son and father having their moment; and the dad stopped caring what other people thought. Which brings me to my second realization.

Don’t let the opinions of others get inside your head, especially with your child.

It’s hard to do and can be kind of a gray area because you want to listen to professional advice and make adjustments where needed when working on behavioral issues. But if you let those facts and knowledge through while keeping opinions out, I feel like that is key. People can have their opinions. They can also have them to themselves and it’s ok (in fact it’s good) for you to tell them so. I know firsthand how hard that can be, and how people can take it the wrong way but that’s on them-not you. Plus professionals don’t usually take things personally.

You have a right to keep as clear a head as possible when being a parent, and if that means telling family members, friends, or otherwise “Thanks but we know what works for us” then by golly, more power to ya! Raising a person is hard enough without dodging all the crap that others think you should do.

I was really impressed by this little film. It got my heart and mind stirring. I hope you will take the time to check it out and see if you can gain something from it as well.

My Child Also Has ODD

This post may contain affiliate links. Please view our affiliate policy and our terms and conditions here. I am not a mental health professional, all the opinions in this post are my own and reflect what has worked for me. None is of this is given as medical or professional advice. Please seek professional advice in the matters of mental/physical health should you or a loved one need it.

Because why not!? Hahahahaaaaaaa*laughing turns to crying*

I’m kidding. I’m fine, seriously. But yeah, at one point I was dreading this diagnosis. We already suspected ADHD to be a factor but it just wasn’t accounting for ALL of the push back we were receiving. When we finally got into a psychiatrist he said something along the lines of “Oh yeah it definitely looks like he’s got ODD as well” and I just….sorta felt my heart sink and my stomach drop.

I hate that even I got caught up in the stigma a diagnosis can create, but I knew from all of the reading and research I had done that ODD was what I call a heavy diagnosis. It’s typically not given easily by practitioners and usually coincides with ADHD or…conduct disorder. The latter of which can be dangerous. Thankfully, our son didn’t have conduct disorder and his counselor chalks that up to us being so involved during his early years and working with him on a constant basis to get through those really rough patches. My gray hairs would have to agree!

So he has ODD….now what?

Well there is a chance (however slim it may be) that he will outgrow the ODD symptoms. Experts say by roughly age 8, this could occur. We still have a little over a year to reach that bench mark and I have high hopes! He’s come a long way with the therapy and medication, and he seems to be calming down and handling his anger a lot more productively. Everyday I see more and more improvements in his self-regulation skills. He does a lot of it on his own too which is just so gratifying. I have to say I am very proud of all the personal growth he’s done in such a brief period of time .

So the plan is we continue medication, we continue therapies (we’re gonna give equine therapy a go next!), and we continue to build upon lifestyle improvers like mediation, self-reflection, journaling, and seeking life outside of screen-time (because screen-time makes his symptoms worse). Maybe in a year or so he’ll need less medication, or none at all, to help him manage his symptoms. Maybe he’ll need the same dose or more. Either way I’m ok with whatever comes because we will handle it together, as a family.

Are you someone who has ODD or know someone who does? What has your journey been like? Leave a comment below.

My Child Has ADHD

This post may contain affiliate links. Please view our affiliate policy and our terms and conditions here. I am not a mental health professional, all the opinions in this post are my own and reflect what has worked for me. None is of this is given as medical or professional advice. Please seek professional advice in the matters of mental/physical health should you or a loved one need it.

I feel like there’s a lot of misinformation out there regarding ADHD and it’s symptoms. I was guilty of it myself. I thought it just meant the person was full of energy and had a hard time sitting still. Boy was I wrong. ADHD can present itself in a number of ways, only one of which is the hyperactivity it is so commonly associated with. There’s also time management, distractibility, defiance, difficulty controlling emotions, difficulty in school, difficulty in making and keeping friends, low or zero impulse control, and so many more. Just like each person with ADHD is unique, so is the ADHD itself.

I also feel like there is a lot of stigma against those with ADHD. You get pegged as difficult to work with, hard to be around, and troublesome. None of this is inherently true. Those with ADHD want to do well and be accepted. They are great people, who do not always have control over something they did not choose for themselves. As the parent of a child with this condition, I find that sometimes other parents aren’t so keen to view my child with understanding eyes.

On a typical day, with medication, you wouldn’t know my son has ADHD and ODD (his teacher literally just told me this earlier this week). He listens, plays pretty well with others, is intellectually engaged, and overall well behaved. If you are a new adult to him, he will listen to you and show you respect. However, without medication or if he’s having an off day, the tables are completely turned. He’s defiant and mouthy, he throws fits at literally every possible moment, he struggles to be kind to others, and he tries to manipulate the situation, so you can forget about even trying to do anything that’s out of the normal routine for the day.

I have to remind myself in those times that it’s not him, it’s his condition. It really can be easy to forget that he doesn’t truly hate me when he’s yelling it as loud as his vocal cords will let him. However I also know that he makes choices, and the only way to guide him into making better choices on a consistent basis is to have appropriate consequences-both negative and positive-for his choices. So no, I can’t let him get away with anything-like EVER. It’s a fine line between “pick your battles” and “don’t let him forget who’s in charge”. A VERY fine line.

What makes it all the harder is that he has ODD on top of the ADHD. This was a diagnosis that…..scared me…half to death, if I’m being honest. I still have the unsettling fear that my son will follow in his biological fathers footsteps*(this is an article I’m not ready to write yet), but I am working daily to let that fear go because it’s not mine to own. You can read more about ODD here but to simplify, it makes him push back against authority. AKA me. I am the main caregiver, parent, nurse, chauffer, chef, PE teacher, counselor, and maid to both my boys (and also my husband, shhh ). Meaning that my son and I are together whenever he is not at school or asleep.

This makes it harder, I find, for him to continue respecting me and my authority *said in a Cartman voice*. He pushes more against me than he does his dad (step-dad for those of you keeping track). He seeks time away from me frequently but as soon as I leave the house to do something solo, he misses me. I’ve come to realize that’s because I am his security. He pushes against me so willfully because he can count on me pushing back, reminding him just where those boundary lines are. And for someone with ADHD, ODD, and anxiety (because why not genetic lottery!) they need that reminder and consistency to feel safe; it helps him know his place in the world.

I have a long way ahead of me, being a parent of someone with ADHD, and a lot more to learn as the chapters in both our lives unfold. But I hope to those parents out there who like me, have a little something extra on their plate, you will discover that the struggle isn’t always a bad thing; and in fact can be what keeps you close with your child. Read more about the struggles here.

How Do I Parent This Child?

This post may contain affiliate links. Please view our affiliate policy and our terms and conditions here. I am not a mental health professional, all the opinions in this post are my own and reflect what has worked for me. None is of this is given as medical or professional advice. Please seek professional advice in the matters of mental/physical health should you or a loved one need it. *language warning

As a parent, feeling confused on what to do next when handling your child’s outburst is rather common; I’m fairly certain we ALL experience this at one point or another in our parenting careers. However, this feeling comes along way more frequently when parenting a difficult child, and at a tenfold strength that usually brings along with it some form of anxiety or depression. Sometimes those confusing moments can feel like life or death choices…and the reality is that sometimes they are. For those parents struggling with children who are suicidal and/or hurting themselves, those moments of question can truly be the end of your own sanity. Feeling like you don’t know what to do next because you don’t know what your child will do next is the epitome of being caught between a rock and a hard place. People who don’t have kids, will hopefully never have to suffer this sort of turmoil; and I envy them for that. At times it seems like parenthood is akin to some form of self-torture.

If you have an aneurotypical child you’re probably already very accustomed to the push back and the manipulation tactics that can (and often DO) occur. By default, you are also likely accustomed to the confusion that takes place in your own mind. Literally: “What do I do next? Is this like the last time? Should I try what I read about in that book? Or maybe what his school counselor said? Do we need to call the police this time? Or am I just wasting their time? Will it cause more fighting? More anger? More defiance? Will I get hurt? Will my child get hurt?”, and these questions can be terrifying and the fear overwhelming. Especially in those moments. You’re just trying to be the best parent you can be to your kid, and that becomes all the more challenging when said child just doesn’t want to be parented.

I think one of the biggest struggles about this is that each situation ends up being unique. So what you used last week to stop him hitting the washing machine while on time out, may blow up in your face when he’s spitting on the washing machine today. On top of this most parenting experts agree that consistency, consistency, CONSISTENCY is the all around best policy. But how are you supposed to be consistent when things change practically daily with your child? One minute they’re excited and happy and the next they are having a meltdown and yelling some really awful things at you. How on Earth are you, the parent, the guide, the guardian, supposed to be consistent with the human embodiment of Russian Roulette?! Well, the answer is: there is no one right answer. And as a parent to a difficult kid, I can tell you hearing that….is fucking exhausting. And I mean like EX. HAUST. ING. We are spent, we are soooooo past done, we do not have the time nor the energy nor mental/spiritual/physical capacity to pursue all the thousand billion possible ways to get our kid to finally listen!

But the struggle doesn’t have to be so difficult. The trick with this is you take yourself out of the equation, you decline to continue the power struggle (because lets be real that’s what it’s become). You know your child, you know them well (probably better than you even realize), and you CAN solve the mystery that is their mind! It really truly helps to enlist the aid of a therapist that is trained specifically for what your child is dealing with; whether that be ADHD, trauma, bipolar, autism, or any other neurobehavioral condition. A therapist can give you an insight to your direct relationship with your kid that frankly my bloggy pages cannot. They can see the dynamic, they can see where adjustments may be needed and help you figure out just what those adjustments are. They have tools and ideas you would never have thought about (seriously it’s kinda amazing all the stuff out there now-a-days for mental health) and they know ways to help pay for those services if finances is a burden (I’ve been there, I feel you).

My point is: yes, it’s hard being a parent to someone who has complications and yes, sometimes you wanna just tear your hair out and yes, sometimes you really fear for everything (them, yourself, the rest of your family) but you don’t have to go it alone. There are people out in this world who care, GENUINELY CARE, about your wellbeing and your kids wellbeing and the wellbeing of everyone involved.

You deserve happiness and peace-so please, don’t be afraid or ashamed to say “I need help, and I’m ready to receive it”.

What’s your biggest parenting fear? No judgements, only understanding and love please.

Helping Your ADHD Child Succeed

This post may contain affiliate links. Please view our affiliate policy and our terms and conditions here. I am not a mental health professional, all the opinions in this post are my own and reflect what has worked for me. None is of this is given as medical or professional advice. Please seek professional advice in the matters of mental/physical health should you or a loved one need it.

I think most parents would agree they want their children to be successful, whatever that may look like to each of us. However raising a person with ADHD comes with it’s own set of challenges on top of those that are already standard struggles for parents. There’s the disorganization, difficulty with time management, distractibility, defiance, and of course emotions getting “too big” and causing a meltdown.

These are some key points we utilize in our household to help manage some of those symptoms.

Make charts for daily tasks

This is probably my most favorite go to. This is what got me off my son’s back and gave us both some room for peace. He likes that I’m not reminding him to get his clothes on because it’s been 15 minutes and he’s still just dinking around on the floor with his jammies half off; I like that all I have to say is “Go do your list” and he does! Quite successfully and quickly no less. We keep on him about time management and got him a watch and regularly use kitchen timers as needed to help him understand what 5 minutes actually feels like. He also knows that he doesn’t get to move onto anything else more fun until his list is done and he will be redirected back to the list as many times as it takes. Me being able to say 4 words helps with not engaging him too much because that just becomes fuel for his defiance. Lists have done a lot for my household. He actually has 3 lists; one for morning, one after school, and one evening. They each have there own set of things and I made them in order to help him learn how to manage that later in life (you don’t get your shoes and jacket on until you’ve gotten dressed sorta thing) as I see him struggle with it currently. You can check out what all are on those lists here!

Plan ahead and do ahead

This ties into the list . Mornings are rough for everybody not just our family, but if he/we don’t do stuff the night before we will NOT make it out of the house on time. Part of my son’s list entails him to get stuff done ahead of time for the next day; i.e. laying his clothes out, making his lunch, prepping his backpack, planning for anything he needs to bring to school, ect. This also sets the tone for the evening and helps wind him down prior to bedtime. We’ve essentially created a very productive routine that tells his body “Hey it’s time to chill, bedtime is soon”.

Always allow an extra 15 minutes, better early everyday than late

I’m a type-A personality so not only do I live for organization, I feel my body tearing itself apart if I am late anywhere. Now because my darling child will occasionally have meltdowns in the morning while all the goings on are happening, I have opted to get him up a wee bit earlier so that it is now on him and less on me. By that I mean if we have extra time (because he didn’t loose his $#*!) then he can spend a little bit of time watching TV or playing with LEGOS or pillow fighting his younger brother. This helps ease my mind and helps take the stress off both of us and it’s literally only 15 minutes! This can also be applied to other functions. Kid hates going to the doctor? Just give yourself that 15 minute grace period. So what if you have to wait in the car or sit on the bench outside calmly while they scream. Let ’em. It doesn’t bother you until you allow it to.

Find a compromise for a task that is a struggle

My son hates making his bed. Like cries and tells me “You’re the worst mom ever” when I ask him to do this. And hey, I get it! He doesn’t like to struggle or feel unaccomplished and fitted sheets are the perfect storm for that, even as an adult (I haven’t told him yet that they don’t go away ). So we compromise. I help him with his bed and he helps me with my bed, or some other chore I’d like his assistance on. It has us working together as a team to achieve a goal, he gets the practice and gains some confidence and then he gets introduced to another chore and the theory “I’ll scratch your back, you scratch mine”. You meet him in the middle and he will kinda be forced to do the same if he wants the help. But skills still have to be used! No whining or being rude or I walk out and remind him when he’s ready he can come get me. And I wait until he is actually ready-not that half sneaky smile pouty face ready. Good ole’ manipulation attempts *sigh*.

Schedule down time and self reflection time

This one is something we still are working on. He finally seems eager to do this and gets excited about it on his list. I got him a gratitude journal awhile back and so far he really enjoys it. This one is geared for younger kiddos but they certainly have lots to choose from for all ages. I liked this one because it was simple, straightforward, and still had room for drawing about your day. Meditation is slooooowly coming along. I really love meditation myself but he doesn’t like to be still for so long (hmmm 6 year old with ADHD, can’t imagine why). However he DOES enjoy progressive relaxation in book form at bedtime. This is the book we use here. He feels like he’s just getting a story read to him and he gets to move his muscles a bit but it’s actually helping him to gain self awareness and control over his body. Plus its extremely calming. If you’ve never tried it, I highly recommend doing so. It’s beneficial for all ages.

Daily outside time, regardless of weather

This is huge for people with mental health conditions and frankly for ALL people. We need nature. I notice a night and day difference in my kid if he hasn’t been able to play outside. It’s centering for him, as it is for me. Even if he’s not “doing” anything in particular, just being in the fresh air and hearing the birds and feeling the wind helps his brain have multiple things to do with itself and thus calms him. I also feel it’s important to get your kids used to all types of weather. I believe it helps them become more resilient, because some days are crumby and some days are shiny but all days exist and you can make them into better days if you choose to.

“One task at a time”

This one comes straight out of his therapists mouth. And it seems so simple but sometimes I think we all need that reminder. When he’s trying to eat a snack and play on his tablet and talk to grandma on the phone or watch his favorite show, I remind him “One thing at a time, you need to pick one”. This also helps him learn prioritizing, which is the most important or what do I actually want to do right now. It helps him slow down and think in a world that gets so caught up with do, do, do!

Weekly clean outs for room, locker, backpack

I am ashamed to say I let this one drop recently. I put it on his list and thought he was doing it completely! Until I happened to put something in his backpack for his teacher and found pencil shavings, pencils, an opened sharpener, and his empty pencil box in there….So I helped him clean it out, no biggy. Until I tried to put the pencil box in the front pocket and found….FOOD! Old food from at least 2 weeks prior . There was a SB&J (S is for sunbutter) with the butter smeared around the inside of the pocket, and carrots that luckily weren’t growing a biology experiment, and stale pretzels. Thank goodness there wasn’t a funky smell yet! I had him clean out that particular pocket solo. Now I check on a daily that this task gets done so there’s no surprises. We also go through his room with him roughly once a week. I don’t usually put my foot down in his room as long as stuff is where it belongs but he likes to stash stuff under his bed. Including trash…and food. We’re working on it…

Responsibility in the household living duties

I may refer to chores as such on here since that’s what most people know them as but at home I prefer to use the term “living duties”. Why? Well because everyone who lives has duties unto themselves and the other members of their household. You like to eat? You learn how to cook and wash dishes. You like to be clean? You learn how to wash yourself properly and do laundry. Plus members of the family might throw a fuss if your personal fragrance is emanating from you at 3 feet away. I am a firm believer and supporter that my kids will one day leave the house and not come home for mama to wash their clothes. And I’ll be damned if my boys think it will become their partners responsibility. No. It’s on them, they need to know how to take care of themselves. And myself and my husband will be the ones to teach them. Make no mistake these baby birds don’t have instinct, they need skills before they can fly. That’s what I’m here for. I intend for my kids to know how to cook, clean, launder, sew, iron, fix, repair, wash, dry, screw, and unscrew just about everything for themselves by the time they are ready to leave my nest. It’s my responsibility as their parent to provide them the tools and skills they need to succeed and the knowledge of where to find the information if they don’t know it.

What are some things that work for your child to be successful?

This Is Me!

Hi! My name’s Mariah and I’d like to welcome you to my blog! There’s a little bit (or a lot a bit) of something here for everybody. While I started this blog as a way to reach out to other parents who have “difficult to parent kids”, I also really love being able to share some of my passions on here as well! So you’ll find some DIY, crafting, sewing, gardening, beauty/hair care, and travel on this site too.

I’ve included the links below for each category. You can also find these links on the home page. Go check ’em out!

Keep reading if you’d like to learn a little bit more about me.

So you may be surprised to hear I am actually a nurse by trade, not a blogger (is blogging even a trade??). I took a leave from my career during my last pregnancy just in time for the pandemic to hit when I was planning to go back to work…yay. With everything rather chaotic I found myself questioning the field I had chosen and the safety of being a healthcare worker. On top of that, childcare was not even an option at the time. So I became an official stay at home mom (I’d been in denial about this for awhile, not gonna lie). I started doing homeschool, which was really cool but just not what my kid needed. So when he started at a Waldorf charter I had a little more free time on my hands and wanted to start something new. Enter: this blog!

I have to say I’m surprised with how much of a creative outlet it is, not to mention it feels like I’m having an adult conversation even though it’s really just my inner monolog being poured out to the internet…eek! I’m really excited to see where this will go and what will change in a year from now!

Please feel free to reach out through comment or join the email list. I don’t spam and I probably won’t send emails more than a few times a month. Cheers!