As the summer holidays are drawing to a close, it's invariably time to start thinking about school. Uniforms, packed lunches, equipment and best of all routines. For us, the worst part of the six week holidays is the lack of routines. Our daughter who has ADD finds it increasingly difficult being at home and not having that consistency. She can become over anxious about events and days out that are planned or, god forbid, spur of the moment trips.

Is it bad of me to admit that I sometimes find myself wishing away the holidays spent with my children just to get to the end of the holidays and back into a semblance of normality? No, after years of feeling annoyed and upset at myself thinking I was a terrible person I have come to realise it’s not bad, it’s just part of being a human being and a parent. Parenting is hard work and when faced with entertaining our little people for six whole weeks it can make us a little crazy. Factor in the financial burden as well and this time of year can become more expensive than Christmas.

For a child with ADD / ADHD, routine is a large part of how they make sense of the world around them and how they fit in at home and socially. For most children school days are regimented, the same, children know what is expected of them and where they are supposed to be:

  • Wake up
  • Wash, dress, brush teeth
  • Breakfast
  • Gather school items need for day
  • Leave house
  • Arrive school for the day
  • Picked up at home time
  • Homework / play
  • Tea
  • Bed

Our school day is all of this plus medication, anxiety, arguments, frayed tempers, stress, missing items, sibling rivalry, screaming - all before 8.30am in the morning. I was not looking forward to this continuing, especially now the kids are getting bigger and older. The stress of school mornings was basically really getting to me. I was getting to the point of feeling physically stressed and sick by the time we got in the car and fed up to the back teeth of the same arguments and screaming fits. Other parents must have thought I was the most miserable person in the world turning up at school, offloading my kids through the gate and then driving away leaving my kids in the care of the school. It’s just that normal children’s behaviour, with ADD added to the mix, throws so much baggage at us from memory loss to impulsiveness plus some OCD, hearing loss and anxiety, school mornings were a force to be reckoned with and I was losing.

With this in mind we finally made the decision to move our youngest to a school in the village which will cut out the car journey as well as giving us an extra 30 minutes at home in the mornings to help with my daughter's routine. Also, my second eldest will start high school with her sister this year and suddenly I will have only two children from 8am onwards on a school morning! Of course there will still be the usual arguing, memory loss, anxiety and stress but hopefully nowhere near as much, and the later start will give our daughter with ADD more time to get ready and do her own routine before we have to walk the four minutes to school. I can't wait! I am always amazed by how quickly we get back into the swing of things come school term time and by how much I miss the school run. My school time tips to parents would be:

  • I have found as a parent children with special needs need more time. Rushing leads to more anxiety and stress for both us and them. Start your routine a little earlier if needs be. Our daughter gets up at 5am, whereas I am not an early bird but I have come to realise she needs this extra time in the mornings.
  • If changing schools, talk to your child as much as possible about it. Mention it at every opportunity. They may get annoyed but I find it acclimatises them. 
  • Try to drive or walk by the school a few times so they get use to the school run and know where they are going. Our daughter especially feels less anxious if she knows where she is going and how long it will take. You can do this even if they are staying at the same school, so that they don't forget where it is.
  • If it’s a particularly bad morning don't worry about being late. I use to hate getting to school late but you won't be the first or the last.

Enjoy the rest of your holidays together and good luck to all those starting new schools or starting school for the first time. Follow our journey at www.leannesihm.wordpress.com