Terry Meets Michelle Obama

Having worked in the White House as a clerical assistant, I was managing phone calls, email and other tasks for staffers. There was to be a photo shoot after dinner and we were all instructed to attend. I recall sitting with other secretaries when, right in the middle of the dinner, the main phone rang. I heard someone yelling to my co-worker that we really needed to be answering the White House phone.

I didn’t get the phone; I was thinking how earlier that day, a woman with a whole slew of Portuguese Water Dog puppies had been walking around the grounds and how she allowed me to take one of the pups for a few days, reminding me that I had to ship him back home to her. Also admiring the pups was no other than Michelle Obama!

At any rate, the meal ended and we were about to pose for the photo shoot. I was sitting next to a group of women who’d been working at the White House forever. They were posing in such a way so that they could be sure to have their faces seen, all but pushing me out of the camera’s range. I asked if I was supposed to be sitting with my husband, who had a high position with the White House staff, and was told they’d be photographed separate from their wives.

Suddenly, Michelle Obama swept by and I introduced myself. She kindly reminded me that we’d met earlier when I was admiring the Portie pups. My cheeks burned in embarrassment, but she was forgiving of my lousy memory.

She began to tell me something interesting- her face was animated and her hands moved in unison with her words. But my co-workers’ chattering quickly distracted me and as is often the case when I’m in a room with multiple conversations going, my brain bailed…but this time…from the First Lady. The most important meeting of my life and I turned back to Ms. Obama only to see I’d missed every word that came out of her mouth.

So I ended up doing the “Terry Nod”- pretending I’d heard every word by nodding and smiling at her, while quietly kicking myself for having allowed my attention to drift. Again.

I woke up from this dream semi-agitated, realizing that even at four in the morning, my ADHD seems to follow me.

Uh Oh: Halloween + Sugar = Hyperactivity?

As a parent, you’ve probably heard that children who consume too much sugar will become hyperactive. Your mother has warned you to change your child’s diet. Your friends who do not have children with ADHD, suggest you’re a lousy mother for allowing your child to eat a cookie or two every day, let alone drink a bottle of soda on occasion. After all, aren’t you supposed to be eliminating any cause for his hyperactivity?

With Halloween coming, you’re probably struggling with what to do about the bags of candy already entering your home. What’s a good mother to do?

Well, let’s start by getting the facts straight. First off, *studies show that sugar does not cause hyperactivity. Sugar does not cause ADHD, either. In fact as a woman with ADHD myself, I find that sugar actually calms me down!

What we DO find is an association between social activities involving treats full of sugar and a change in a child’s behavior. What does that mean?

Think about it. When does your child typically consume large quantities of sugar?

– Birthday parties
– Halloween
– Other special occasions

And when do children with ADHD typically become more excitable? Well, read the list above.

So next time someone “helpfully” suggests that you remove all sugars from your child’s diet, remind them that there are no studies that prove that sugar causes hyperactivity. Refer to the references below if you really need some ammunition. And explain that you aren’t about to remove your child from social activities that involve sweets as part of the festivities. That is, unless your child happens to become so overstimulated that it’s best to limit activities that rev him or her up!

Now go enjoy Halloween with your child!


Cormier E, Elder JH. Diet and child behavior problems: fact or fiction? Pediatr Nurs. 2007;33:138-143. Review.
Crook WG. Food allergy–the great masquerader . Pediatr Clin North Am . 1975;22: 227-238. In: Kinsbourne M. Sugar and the hyperactive child. N Engl J Med . 1994;330:355-356.
Cruz NV, Bahna SL. Do food or additives cause behavior disorders? Pediatr Ann. 2006;35:744-745,748-54. Review.
Kanarek RB. Does sucrose or aspartame cause hyperactivity in children? Nutr Rev . 1994;52:173-175.
Kinsbourne M. Sugar and the hyperactive child. N Engl J Med . 1994;330:355-356.
Mardis AL. Current knowledge of the health effects of sugar intake. Family Economics and Nutrition Review . 2001;13: 87-91.
Wolraich ML, Lindgren SD, Stumbo PJ, et al. Effects of diets high in sucrose or aspartame on the behavior and cognitive performance of children. N Engl J Med. 1994;330:301-307.
Wolraich ML, Wilson DB, White JW. The effect of sugar on behavior or cognition in children. A meta-analysis. JAMA . 1995;274:1617-1621.

Challenge Software Program for Self-Regulation

Periodically, people contact me with resources that they feel are helpful to those touched by ADHD.

Recently, I learned of the Challenge Software Program at http://www.cpschallenge.com. Its developer, Brad Chapin LCP, LMLP, tells me that the program was Beta-tested by over 750 parents and professionals around the world. He recently launched the site to the public.

This interactive internet-based application uses animated scenarios and games to engage children quickly and teach them the basics of Self-regulation (the central issue in ADHD, Depression, Anxiety, Anger, Aggression, and
Emotional/Behavioral problems). Self-regulation is crucial for success throughout the life-span and is a skill that should be getting more attention throughout the educational

The program also automatically generates Pre and Post outcome Data to show improvements.

They are also offering a free trial. Check it out at www.cpschallenge.com. If you try it, please post your experience here.

:: Disclaimer:: I have not used the program and cannot vouch for its effectiveness, but am sharing it with my readers as a point of interest and possible resource.

Up and Down the Stairs: Bedtime and Hyperactivity

I was lamenting to a friend online about my daughter’s nighttime escapades and how nothing seems to work to get her calmed down enough to drop into bed, even with the medications she takes to slow her down.

Peggy and I have been friends for years, ever since we met at an ADDA conference. Every year, we and a mutual friend would meet up in various cities throughout the country to learn about ADD and enjoy each other’s company.

When she heard about my nightly fiasco with my daughter, she described how she, too has a difficult time settling down at night. She sent me this poem today, which I’d like to share with you.

Up and down the Stairs

By Peggy Clover
(Inspired by Mackenzie and me)

Up and down the stairs I run
In and out the doors
Looking for the things I lost
Trying to do my chores.

Not all is lost
Just out of place
But no matter
I am still a disgrace.
If only I could remember
To put things where they belong
That should be easy
Am I so wrong?

But first I have to find stuff
To give it its proper position
But as I wander thru the rooms
I forget I had a mission.

Sometimes I plop down
And just sit and play
Or doodle or make a mess
And have a happy day.

Then up I jump again
Jack in the Box that’s me
On a mission once again
To see what I might see.

I have no one to prod me on
Or say how things should be
Or tell me that I should grow up
Because now I am 63.

Up and down the stairs I run
In and out the doors
Looking for the things I lost
Trying to do my chores.

Is your Child Stressed in School? Watch for Warning Signs

School is in full swing, now and more than ever, your child with ADHD or other difficulties could be struggling academically and socially. Now is the time to watch for warning signs. Is he more irritable than usual? That could be a sign of feeling overwhelmed or even symptoms of depression or other mood disorders.

Are his sleeping habits changing? Staying up later than usual? Going to bed earlier? Eating more or less? How is his social life? Is he keeping things in balance?

Children and adults with ADHD are susceptible to co-morbidities such as mood disorders, anxiety, substance abuse and more. With the stress of school, it’s more important than ever to check in and take his psychological “temperature.”

Contact his teachers to see how he’s adjusting to the new year. Talk to him. If you have concerns, call his pediatrician and start there. Consider consulting with a child psychologist/psychiatrist. Perhaps meds need tweaking, too.

Don’t wait until parent/teacher conferences or report cards. Be a vigilant and active parent.

Online Screening for Adult ADHD

There’s a number of these online screening tests, but this is one I like a lot:

Jasper/Goldberg Adult ADD/ADHD Screening Quiz
by Larry Jasper & Ivan Goldberg

Click here to take your test: Adult ADHD Screening Test.

According to my results:

How do you score?

Are you Part of the Sandwich Generation?

If you are caring for both your children and your elderly parents, welcome to the Sandwich Generation! I “joined the club” in the past year when my parents began to face enough medical problems to warrant the help and support of me and my siblings.

I’ve had my hands full, to say the least, but as this is my ADHD blog site, I figured I’d add the ADHD spin to it.
Which is…how does one juggle all of these responsibilities? How do you stay above water?

What I’ve learned so far on this journey is that when ADD is in the mix, it is imperative to reach out and get help. It’s hard enough to take care of one’s family, work, keep up with the household AND meet the needs of elderly parents.

As a woman, I’ve been “programmed” by society to take too much upon myself and ask for help only reluctantly when my back is up against a wall. With a better understanding of my own ADD related needs, I’m learning and forcing myself to reach out more than I’ve ever done before.

When friends and relatives offer to help, I no longer push them away. I accept!

How about you? What are you doing to take care of you during these difficult years?

Virtual ADHD Conference: Register by 5pm EST Today and Save $50

Last year’s conference was a HUGE success and this year’s will be even better.

The 2nd annual Virtual ADHD Conference will be held Oct. 5 – Oct. 7…and if you register by 5pm EST today (Sept 28), you will save $50.

There’s a fantastic line-up this year and you can attend via the comfort of your own home or office, since it’s all “virtual.”

See www.adhdconference.com

This year’s presenters include Dr. Ned Hallowell, Dr. Dan Amen, Dr. Pat Quinn, Kate Kelly, Dr. Ari Tuckman, Tara McGillicuddy, Dr. Russ Ramsay, Dr. Charles Parker, Nancy Ratey, Judith Kolberg, Dr. Roland Rotz, and more.

Topics include:

Married to Distraction
Women and Girls with ADHD: Dealing with Hormones, Depression, Anxiety, Eating Disorders and Other Challenges
ADHD and Depression
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Adults with ADHD
Building Self-esteem in Kids and Adults
Medication and the Therapeutic Window
Working Memory Training
Alternative Treatments
Workplace Strategies
ADHD and Sexuality
Parenting Kids with ADHD
…and much more

Access sessions via phone or webcast. Each session will be recorded for your convenience. Network with others in the chatrooms. Receive a free goody bag with your registration. There is so much more!

Register now at www.adhdconference.com

Why I Hate to Cook: Update

In my last post, I described the intensity of my dislike for cooking and entertaining along with a promise to update you on how my dinner went.

On the second day of my “experiment”, I tackled the roast chicken prep. I hadn’t prepared this particular dish in oh, about 8 years, and was unsure of the ingredients. Again, I hunted for the recipe which had been stored in my trusty recipe box for the last 30+ years and oh my…this one was missing as well. I can’t imagine who in their right mind would want to take off with any of my recipes, so I’m assuming I accidently threw it away. Freudians would probably disagree with the “accidently” part.

This is a recipe I had learned from watching my sweet grandmother, who was determined to have this dish handed down for generations to come. Grandma Mollie was a superb cook as is my mother. So obviously, the cooking gene skips a few generations in my family.

Back to the chicken…

I had to wing this one (sorry for the pun, really!) and went by memory. I grated onions in a roasting pan, added garlic, seasoning salt, paprika and my grandmother’s secret ingredient. About 1 ½ hrs before company was to arrive, I popped it in the oven, along with the noodle kugel from the day before, to warm it up.

On with the house chores. No comment. Suffice it to say that as my friend Dr. Ned Hallowell would say, it was “organized enough.”

As family streamed in, my anxiety sky-rocketed. This is when my executive functioning really takes a nose dive. I cannot concentrate, plan or execute much of anything when there are people, sounds and commotion near me. My oldest daughter was on hand to help me out. My youngest, when I asked her to set the table said, “Mom, let’s just use paper plates so you don’t freak so much at clean-up time.”

Finally, everyone sat down and ate. I looked at the faces and enjoyed the silence. Then I worried about the silence until my step-dad piped up, “I didn’t know you had it in you- this is fantastic!.” My mother, the former gourmet cooking teacher, beamed. You’d think I was 10 years old and had won a good citizenship award or something. “A chip off the ol’ block.”

No, not really. More like beginner’s luck.

At any rate, the meal was a success. But what’s the lesson learned from all this?

Was it worth the time, energy, effort, anxiety, stress and fear to put on a holiday meal for my loved ones? Are there other ways to spend holiday time together with family that could have been more enjoyable? All I can say is, I’m so glad it’s over and I’m trying to forget the fact that another Jewish holiday is lurking right around the corner.

How do you handle special occasion meals? What strategies work for you?

Why I Hate to Cook

Those of you who have attended my presentations at CHADD and ADDA over the years, or who have read my book, are probably familiar with the fact that I hate to cook.

Let me tell you why.

Cooking encompasses many of the skills that I and lots of people with ADHD struggle with and much of it falls under the umbrella of executive functioning. Think about it:
To cook, you have to plan. You have to sequence your activities in just the right way. You have to remember and you have to multi-task.

Today, I decided that I was going to make a noodle kugel for tomorrow’s Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah. Let me tell you why, 5 hours later, I am in such a nasty mood.

It started with the scavenger hunt called, “looking for the kugel recipe.” I’ve owned this scrap of paper with my scrawled handwriting for over 30 years and have kept it in the same recipe box for just as long. For some reason, it has disappeared. I searched high and low to no avail, but made mental notes of various cabinets and drawers that need to be de-cluttered and cleaned. Finally, I went to the internet but still couldn’t find the familiar recipe – the EASY dump-everything-in-one-pot one. I called my sister in law. I’d given the recipe to her many years ago but she, too lost it. Luckily, she gave me another one that was similar enough for my taste.

Next step- a chore I hate more than I can describe: grocery shopping. All the distractions, the decision making, the stimuli- make my head spin. I can literally stare at 5 shelves of canned tomatoes for 15 minutes before deciding which one to buy.

After over an hour of getting the ingredients plus everything else that grabbed my attention, I got home and put everything away. I then realized that I hadn’t bought anything that would work for the evening dinner. But that’s for another blog…

Being the night owl that I am, I began the experiment, er…I mean the cooking…at 9pm, when I have the most energy and patience. Neither lasted very long.

I couldn’t find my trusty glass baking dish or even a spatula. Still, I moved forward, starting with boiling noodles. That went well enough with just one minor burn. On my hand, that is. Then on to melting butter. Done. Then the big dump- emptying cartons of cottage cheese, sour cream, eggs, vanilla, milk, butter and…oh…did I forget anything else… into a big bowl. Now that seems easy enough for most, wouldn’t you think? But for me, it was a nightmare- all the steps that go into this, as easy as this recipe is, was more than I could handle. My head began to throb.
I finally got everything pulled together then realize I heated up the wrong oven. No worries. It would still work- just had to take out the broiler pan that is now probably ruined and instead, insert the raw kugel.

Next step- the…clean-up. This is when I wish I were a Buddhist because instead of living in the moment, I’m thinking of alllllll the things I’d much rather be doing than scrubbing pots, bowls, dishes and measuring utensils. Even watching a re-run of Barney is beginning to sound appealing.

In another half hour, I’ll have a sense of whether this is a hit or a miss. But either way, I’ll be glad that I won’t have to deal with this for another year. Still, there’s tomorrow and the roast chicken experiment, then getting the house in gear, setting the table, and wait…running back to the store for things I’d forgotten, I’m sure.

Next year: take out. Just like I suggest to my readers, clients, conference attendees…
What WAS I thinking??

ADHD Awareness Week September 14-20, 2009

It’s here! ADHD Awareness Week! qim8cpz92f

What can you do to spread the word, share information and resources? Here at Moms with ADD, ADD is a daily event. Please post your thoughts here in the forums.

There’s tons of helpful articles, too, in my Articles section.

Also, check out CHADD’s site for more information on how you can make a difference.

Introducing Dr. Charles Parker

Every once in a while, I come upon a resource that I want to share with my readers.

Today, a friend and colleague, Dr. Charles Parker, sent me an update on the work he’s doing in the field of ADHD. Dr. Parker is a Neuroscientist and Psychiatric Consultant who has a unique “take” on ADHD and its treatment.

I’d like to share some of his fascinating work with you. Dr. Parker is in the process of writing a book but his generosity in sharing his ideas and information spills over through the many projects he takes on.

Please take a moment and read some of his work, download an audio program and read his checklist detailing the various ADHD medication challenges people encounter, at http://www.corepsychblog.com/adhdbook/

I think you’ll enjoy reading more about Dr. Parker’s work. And if you’d like to hear him “live”, please consider registering for the 2nd Annual Virtual ADHD Conference, where he will be one of the guest speakers. You can learn more about this incredible conference at www.ADDconference.com .

Connecting with your Difficult Child

Stanley Greenspan, MD, a child psychiatrist who has written many books and who has an interest in parent/child relationships, developed a fascinating program that he calls “Floor Time.” The essence of this exercise is to improve the relationship between parent and child by having “sessions” in which the parent follows the child’s lead and joins him in child-led activities–it does not matter what the child is doing, as long as the child initiates the move. This could be anything from playing a board game to taking a walk in the backyard.

Years ago when I worked with a psychologist to help my daughter with certain behaviors, I was taught the method of Floor Time and was amazed at how well it worked. At the time, my daughter was quite young. I was instructed on how to follow her lead and what amazed me was how quickly our relationship improved.

This past holiday weekend, I used a version of Floor Time to connect with Mackenzie, who is now 21. We spent a few days together at our little lake house in Canada. I was determined not to pester her about her grooming, her habits that often irritate me, her impulsive bedtime behaviors, her poor eating habits, etc. I had decided that we were going to relax together and have fun. Period. I knew that in a matter of days, we’d be back in the school routine with all the stress that goes with that.

It worked. Mackenzie’s whole demeanor changed. She was calmer, happier and her mood was great. It made me think just how much MY reactions to her make matters worse.

With school starting, how can YOU back off and enjoy your children more? I know that now is not the easiest time to even consider this, but perhaps if you begin to monitor yourself- watch yourself as you interact with your kids- maybe you’ll come up with some new strategies so that your time with your children becomes more positive. And even more fun.

School Starts! Tips on How to Wake Up!

September brings the close of summer, back to school mania and the end of sleeping in. I’m often asked by moms/women with ADHD how to get into a better sleep/wake routine but even with the best intentions, it can still be incredibly difficult to wake up in the morning.

The first step is to get you and your kids into a routine! If school starts after Labor Day, start getting the kids into bed about 15 minutes earlier each night. Get them to wake up a little earlier each morning, too.

Discuss a plan for bedtime and morning routines (now!) so you don’t walk into a disaster come September 8. You almost always will get better results when you include your child in the planning.

Lots of kids- and adults- still have trouble waking up. Ask your pediatrician (or your own doctor, if this is a problem for you) about waking up an hour early to take your morning meds, then going back to sleep. Many parents find their kids wake up ready to go once the meds have kicked in.

If all else fails, use a new system that forces you OUT of bed. One idea I like is purchasing multiple alarm clocks and putting them throughout the room and setting the alarm about 10 minutes apart. One clock needs to be far away from the bed, forcing you or your child to get OUT of bed in order to turn it off.

I have some great clocks in my store that are perfect for the heavy sleeper.

When Clocky goes off, it jumps right off the bed stand and onto the floor. You have to chase it down to turn it off. This in particular is great for kids who appreciate the fun of the chase. It also eliminates the need for mom or dad to keep pestering them to wake up.

The Shake Awake Vibrating Alarm Clock is great for the very deep sleeper who doesn’t even hear standard alarm clocks go off. Just like it’s name implies, it shakes your bed to wake you up.

Find these and other great items, all personally hand-picked to help you with your time management challenges in the time management section of my store.


This weekend brought a slew of social activities- parties, etc. – because my niece got getting married on Saturday. I like to write about day to day activities that we all take for granted but rarely seem to write about in the perspective of having ADHD.

So let me share my manicure story to see if it relates to you.

I’ve written before about my sensory issues in regards to certain sounds, smells, fabrics, etc. Well, this is about my sense of touch…

Last week, my daughter and I went to get manicures for the upcoming wedding. As you know, I rarely make PLANS, but instead, just sort of…jump into things when the thought or feeling strikes.

I hate manicures. And I’ve never had a pedicure. I hate massages, as well. Is it the thought of a stranger touching me? I think it’s more- it’s my aversion to certain sensory experiences.

We easily found a walk-in nail parlor and boy… I thought I’d entered a county fair or something. The hustle and bustle; the colors, sounds and odd “stations” took me completely by surprise.

First stop was a nightmare for someone with ADHD. I was told to choose a color. CHOOSE A COLOR? There were hundreds of bottles to choose from! As you know, most nail polish colors fall in the pink/red range. Even with my art background, I was astonished to see so many hues with pink and red in them. Had I been bolder, I’d have chosen orange or blue. I finally found a light light pink that wouldn’t make me my fingers look like bloody daggers.
It took a good 10 minutes to figure this out. But it took my daughter, even longer.

I was instructed to sit elbow to elbow with my fellow manicure customers. Then the fun begins. It starts with filing. The smell of that sickens me- like the smell of an electrical fire. But I got through it and actually am fascinated that someone can file while not looking at the person’s fingers.

Then the bad part begins: I’m being slathered with lotion. One of my biggest sensory freak-outs is feeling anything sticky or gooey on any part of my body. While others scream at the sight of a spider, I shriek if my hands accidently touch a greasy doorknob or if my foot lands on a sticky floor.

That day, I was facing multiple sensory phobias. And it continued with…THE HAND MASSAGE. I looked around and watched as women closed their eyes, SMILING while their hands were being mashed and manipulated. I gritted my teeth, counting the seconds before this part would end. Only to be tortured by step #2- having my greasy hands encased in plastic baggies and inserted into a heated torture chamber. I was afraid to even look at my daughter, worried she would start screaming at me for putting her through such torture.

Finally, the manicurist removed my hands from the goo and started the next step, torture #3: trimming my cuticles. I watched in horror as she took these clippers which had to have been used on hundreds of other women before me and hadn’t been sterilized for me. Now I ask you, dear readers…IS THIS NORMAL? I’m not a germaphobic, but I know a little bit about the transmission of disease and infection. But I digress…

What others brush off as annoying, *I* feel the same thing as PAIN. Clip clip clip (ouch ouch ouch). Finally, it’s over. Wait. It’s not. She’s using that stick to push my cuticles back. I hate every second of it.

The next step is less painful but no less annoying or sensory distressing: the application of smelly, colorful chemicals called nail polish. The smell alone nearly knocks me to the ground and I’m grateful that I’m already sitting down. Thankfully, the process goes quickly and I actually enjoy this part. One, two, three…brush brush brush. Done! Or so I thought.

I’m led to the drying station. The good part is that I know I’m almost done. The bad part is, I am not allowed to move my hands. I’m not particularly hyperactive, but the thought of being trapped is also an “issue” with me. Elevators, planes, trains, busses, dental chairs, MRI machines are all somewhat anxiety provoking for me. Now I can add the drying station to my ever growing list of claustrophobic experiences.

Finally, the machine goes off and we’re done. My daughter fared much better than me. We examined our nails in delight, until I realized why I never ever wear nail polish- it feels like a 20 pound weight is sitting on each nail. I hate the sensation and immediately ask if the shop also sells polish remover, knowing that as soon as the wedding weekend is over, I’m removing these dead weights from my hands.

We exit the torture chamber, and as a reward for my daughter’s exceptional behavior, we stop at the ice cream shop where we both enjoy a special treat, though I think I earned it more than she did. She LOVED the day at the spa!

Mail Mail Everywhere!

I hate it!

It comes in through my mail slot every day, flops to the floor and just laughs at me, as I try to decide what to do with it all. Like most of you, I cannot adhere to the OHIO paper rule (Only Handle It Once). Heck, if I could, I would probably no longer carry an ADHD diagnosis. Paper is everywhere. Same with you?

So I found something that looks like it will solve part of the problem and I’m excited about it. I’m going to order one to see if it helps with my kitchen piles. It’s called the Mail.Sorter and it looks like it could be perfect! There’s room for letters (the slots can be categorized) plus a place to hold magazines and catalogues.

Check it out HERE and if you order one, please let me know how it works for you. And I’ll do the same.

10 Back to School Success Secrets

I’ve been reading lots and lots of articles and blogs about preparing your child for returning to school. Frankly, most of these articles are saying basically the same thing year after year:

Get back into a routine

Organize school supplies

Create a study area

Talk to his/her teachers and discuss your concerns

Check your child’s IEP or 504 plan

Plan healthy lunches

….blah blah blah

I’ve read so many of these lists and articles and maybe you have too. So, here’s MY list of how to prepare for your child’s return to school:

1. Practice your jumping skills so that when Tommy steps on the bus his first day of school, you can leap in the air for joy and not sustain a stress fracture of your ankle.

2. Take a good look in the mirror and decide whether you want to go with Botox or a makeover to cover the stress you’ve been under while the kids were home all summer.

3. Run, don’t walk to your favorite department store and treat yourself to a new outfit to replace the paint/food/crayon covered Tshirts, shorts and flip flops you’ve been wearing all summer.

4. Allow yourself a full week of NOT picking up dirty clothes, toys, food clumps and other summer disasters. You worked hard enough- give yourself a mini vacation now that they’re back in school.

5. Look for every stray quarter, dime, nickel and penny and use them for hot lunches so you don’t have to pack any. This is a great incentive for de-cluttering the kids’ rooms.

6. Make a lunch date with a good friend, since you probably haven’t seen her since the end of May.

7. Do NO, I repeat, do NOT sign up for any parental school activities until you’ve looked at the list 10 times and asked yourself, “Do I REALLY want to do this or have time for this?” There are plenty of ways you can help out in school on YOUR terms and schedule.

8. Ditto with signing up your child for after school activities. In fact, subtract 2 activities from last year’s schedule. You’ll thank me. Really.

9. Encourage your child to sign up for Home Ec so that he/she will be forced to cook dinners for you.

10. Start thinking NOW about next summer and what you can do to make it a more pleasant experience. The stress will still be fresh in your memory and maybe you won’t feel too guilty about signing them up for summer camp. In Austria. Or Australia, for that matter.

Not Fitting In

Four days ago, I waited in a huge parking lot for my daughter to return from her three weeks at summer camp. There had to be a few hundred parents there, waiting, like me, for the buses to come rolling in. Looking around, I noticed a few things. First, I’m probably at least a good fifteen years older than the average parent I saw there. No big deal- we started our family on the late side.

Second, just about every person I saw was huddled into small groups, chatting and laughing away. I began to wonder how all these people could possibly have known one, two or even more parents. I strained to find someone I might know as well, but came up empty.

For three weeks, I worried how my daughter would fit in at camp. With her severe ADHD and other issues, life is often tough for her. I had flashbacks of my own youth and how I, too, didn’t fit in. I was incredibly shy and anxious and had undiagnosed ADHD. That’s quite a challenge when trying to make friends, let alone keeping them.

The flashbacks continued- not being asked to the prom; always being on the edge of social activities, watching as the other kids laughed, thriving in group activities. Instead, I was the one on the outside looking in. I found more pleasure in playing guitar and making art than going to football games on Friday nights. The feelings became more intense as the memories washed over me. The girl- now a grown woman- who didn’t fit in was waiting for the daughter who didn’t fit in.

The bus carrying my daughter finally arrived. When she raced down the steps of the bus into my arms, all those feelings melted away. I was no longer 12 or 16 years old. I was a grown woman who feasted her eyes on a smiling girl who obviously had a grand three weeks at camp, making new friends and exploring new skills. I grabbed my daughter, kissed and hugged her, and walked proudly out of the crowd. I realized just then that I, too, had grown over the years. I had accomplished many things and gained many skills, just like my daughter. The only difference, I suppose, is I did so in a quieter way than the crowd before me.

Are you a Helicopter Mom?

Just what we need- something more to worry about. I read an article recently about how today’s moms are too involved in their children’s lives. They snoop, they interfere, they offer too much support and direction. Kids are living at home longer, expecting more from their parents and enjoying luxuries mom and dad are paying for.

They bail their kids out of all kinds of trouble, make sure they get into the best schools available and ensure that they hang out with only the nicest kids in town.

But what if you’re raising a child with ADHD or other special needs? When do you step in and when do you let them swim on their own? And how do you know when to back off?

Kids with ADHD *do* have special needs: they may need more reminders. They may need us to help them with even very basic things, long after their peers have mastered them. When many kids are no longer needing reminders to shower and look after other grooming needs, our kids are often clueless- or don’t care much- about such things.

Are we being helicopter moms if we’re still reminding a 16 year old to hop in the shower? Or to bring their homework papers to school?

Where is the line drawn for you and your kids?

Mommy Guilt

I mentioned in an early blog, that Mackenzie, my ADHHHHD daughter, was leaving for 3 weeks of summer camp. In that post, I wrote about the agony of packing up a kiddo for 3 weeks. I mean really, how do you know how many Tshirts, shorts, underwear, etc. your child needs when at home; they go through 2-3 outfits per day? At any rate, the packing got done, thanks to my older daughter’s superb organizing skills.

Then the fun began. I look forward to these 3 weeks off of mommy duty every year as a way to escape the intensity of living with severe ADHD. Each day that she’s away is filled with peace, quiet and fairly un-cluttered rooms. There are no screaming battles about teeth brushing, hoarding food in her bedroom, slamming doors, etc.

The normalcy of my days almost becomes unsettling. ‘Do you mean THIS is how most families live- all eating dinner together? No daily meltdowns? Chores getting done?’,I think to myself. Within 12 hours of the bus leaving, I become gloriously used to what others might label as normal. I can hear myself think. My stomach isn’t churning at every meal. Bedtime becomes quiet time in the house, where I can do leisure activities without constant interruptions.

Then why were these 3 weeks so difficult for me? Partly because I was cherishing each calm day so intensely, I found that I was practically dreading the day the bus would be bringing back my OWN DAUGHTER.

Those of you who have been following my blogs and other writings, know that I try to be as honest about my feelings as possible. Because I figure that if *I’m* feeling them, chances are, you are too.

I have 32 hours before ADHD touchdown. I know that once I see her mud caked but happy face, I will feel complete again. But in the back of my mind, I’ll remember the care-free days when I could come and go as I pleased and not have to worry about all the things moms with ADHD kids worry about 24/7.

But before that bus rolls into town, I think I’m going to splurge on one more day of freedom of stress. And I’m not going to feel guilty, because I know that I’ll have 344 days to be the best mom I can be.

So don’t I deserve a break once a year? Maybe next year I’ll do so… but without the guilt.

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