Routine for us as a family is basically the difference between a good day and a bad day. There is no flexibility, there is no common ground, and it’s the routine or nothing. It’s a struggle for me as a mum and an adult – I don’t rely on routine as it doesn’t allow for change.

For my daughter though, routine is such an important part of her life, from the way she sets about her morning to how she copes with planned events, holidays and general everyday life. Without a routine my daughter can be left feeling bereft and disjointed in an already confusing and sometimes overwhelming world that she lives in. Being able to do anything in a way that helps her to stay connected to the rest of the family can mean the difference between her being happy and contented to being frustrated and generally unable to cope.

Trying to balance this need for routine with three other children can at times cause strife and on occasion I am accused of favouritism, but this is not the case. As children, they do not see the struggle it is to try and keep everyone on an even keel. Having your life ruled by routine is difficult and frustrating but having a daughter with ADHD means she struggles with memory problems, impulsiveness, concentration and being able to adhere to a routine. This can mean the difference between her being able to function and having that meltdown that all parents dread.

In one form or another we all have a routine of some kind in our daily lives, from how we get ready for the day, to how we move through it, and how we end it. For me routine starts when I open my eyes, getting myself and the girls all ready for the day ahead:

• wake up then wake the girls up
• washed and dressed
• breakfast
• hearing aids in, hair brushed
• coat and shoes and bags on.

If I have managed to get the children all ready to go by 8.20am it’s a good day and means that having a routine in place has worked, even if for me it feels like I have crammed a week’s worth of stress into two hours.

Never let it be said that the job of a mum or dad is easy. First thing in the morning until the children are all safely behind the school doors is the most stressful time of my day. Four children each trying to go about their own varying routines while co-habiting in a small house brings that sense of cold fear when I open my eyes. There are days when I just want to bury myself under the duvet and pretend that I have no responsibilities, no reason to wake up and get going.

Having a young family is not all plain sailing, even when you have well-thought through, well-meaning routines in place. This is never more apparent than in the school holidays. The effect of not having a routine during holidays is amplified because my daughter with ADHD relies so heavily on a routine. Of course when there is no school day, which is structured, this can cause anxiety and panic – a whole lot of shouting, fighting and stress for the children as well as me.

So basically, for me routine is the difference in being a crazy, out of control, frayed round the edges mum, to a semi-calm and collected parent who, after a strong cup of coffee and five minutes of quiet, is ready to face the day after the school run. Until the end of the day that is.

I love being a mum, I thrive on their happiness, watching them grow and learn and if I have to live with routines, then so be it.

To find out more about Leanne and raising a daughter with ADD over on her blog.