how do you structure your day?

Rosie - posted on 06/05/2011 ( 12 moms have responded )

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so in all of my dealings with an ADHD child, i always get told they need structure. what i am doing isn't working. it doesn't work for me, and it sure as shit doesn't work for my son. i need help. how DO you structure your day? how do you stick to it? thank you!!

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[deleted account]

You are NOT and idiot!!! It is hard, very, very hard, to figure out what works!

Try to limit TV and computer time; I know that makes me worse--it feels SO good while I'm watching TV or online (I have to set a timer when I get on COM!), but I find the less time I have for those things, the more focused, happier, and less stressed I am the rest of my day. I honestly have no idea why it's like that--he'll be frustrated at first, but once he gets better at thinking of things to do on his own, he'll be much happier.

When he wanders inside when he should be outside, send him back outside. Another thing that might help is to sit down with him and have him list lots of fun things to do that do not include TV, computer, or video games. Post it somewhere prominent, and when he wanders inside, refer him to it and let him pick something. I know when I have time to do whatever I want, I often can't think of anything, so I have a list of things I want to do on my fridge--fun projects, like making cards for people, editing personal pics, reading my new book, etc. It helps to have it right there where I can see it. Yes, I know I should be able to keep the list in my head, but it really is chaotic in there and I can never, ever find it when I need it.

I also agree with you on the schedule--loose works better. You can have the right amount of structure by having certain activities that you do everyday, either at the same time, or the same way. Like getting dressed--It requires several steps, so have him do them in the same order everyday. It doesn't matter when he gets up, but the first thing he should do is get ready for the day. Find several little things like that.

A strict schedule can be very stressful for some kids with ADHD. If you always follow it perfectly, then break it, his world will fall apart. Also, it doesn't allow for him to think on his own. Yes, I know that is our weakness, so we try to limit that when performing some tasks, but we need to practice it too. I think that with practice, we get better at controlling our thoughts and staying focused. That is why it is so important to schedule some time each day for him to just let his mind go wherever it wants. Eventually, he will stumble onto thinking about something he enjoys and he will learn to keep his mind on that subject. That is the beginning, then he'll learn to apply that skill to other areas. If he's like me, he'll never be great at it, but he will be creative, and that is a wonderful asset!

[deleted account]

I just thought of something with my framed lists (I have one in the bathroom, one for items I need going out the door, and a couple others). Anyway, If you frame a list, you can write on the glass with a dry erase marker, so he can mark off the stuff he has done. I don't actually do that because I've gotten good at following those routine lists, but I was thinking about how helpful it is for me to cross off things on my daily lists and put them together. I hear a lot of parents of ADHD kids complain that they have to keep their kids on task when getting dressed, so that could help keep him focused on the goal of crossing everything off....maybe.

[deleted account]

My son doesn't have ADHD, but I do. These are things I do to help myself--some might work for you and your boy, others, you can probably modify to make more kid friendly.

Write it down. I start every day with a list of things I need to do--EVERYTHING!!! From brushing my teeth, to individual errands, chores, and projects. I know it sounds silly.
The list does three things--first, it gets the information out of my head, where chaos ensues, and puts it on paper, where it will be still and be continuously available (unless I loose the paper, so I buy cute notebooks). Second, it allows me to focus without having to continually think about all the other stuff I have to do so I won't forget about it. For some reason, it never fails that when I have time to do something, I can't remember what it is I need to do, then when I'm busy, I remember all of it. Second, crossing stuff off the list is HUGE for me. It is one more thing I can get out of my already over-full, cluttered head.

(Stuff I have to do every morning is on a cute, framed list in my bathroom. Yes, my ADD is THAT bad. I WILL forget to put on my makeup if I don't have my list. My personal rule is not to leave the bathroom until I finish the list--that way I don't head out to turn on coffee and never return. )

I need structure, but it cannot be too strict, because if I loose it just a little, the day is totaled.... Once I have my list, I divide my day into "chunks" Usually Cleaning, Errands, Down-time, School (for J), Exercise, and whatever else I need to do that day. Making chunks helps me figure out the most efficient order to do stuff in and group like tasks so I'm not driving all over town, and I can get in "the zone".

That brings me to Hyper-focus, which is a common symptom of ADHD that used to throw Dr's (and parents) off. Many kids with ADHD have the ability to focus so deeply on a certain task that they loose all track of time and reality. For me, it's drawing, it can be anything, as long as it does not involve outside stimulation--drawing, writing, day dreaming, running, etc. (but not reading, video games, or TV. See the difference?). It's just a task that lets the mind clear itself. Make sure you incorporate some time in your son's day for him to do whatever he wants without stimulation. I like short, frequent breaks, they help me recharge. Your son may like a longer one where he can really focus--play with it till you find what works. After a break where I can draw and let my mind go, I come back so much more focused. But set a timer--I have lost myself for hours drawing a picture.

I hope some of this helps. I know how frustrating ADHD is, and I can imagine how frustrating it is for parents to deal with. I always feel bad when parents get so mad at their kids for symptoms of ADHD--for someone without it, it is so difficult to comprehend why someone can't focus long enough to just go put his socks away, but I promise!! He IS trying, and it is just as hard for him as it is for you.

I spent my childhood feeling like a failure because I couldn't complete the simplest tasks, and I do not want any other child to feel that way. Those simple tasks may be difficult, but we do posses an ability to excel at tasks unsurmountable to others.

12 Comments

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Minnie - posted on 06/06/2011

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Loureen, pictures of activities we need to do is an excellent idea! I'm not so sure that Evelyn is ADHD, but she definitely can forget to keep her body, mind and emotions under control and things can quickly snowball. Or she can become so incredibly locked-in on an idea or activity that she physically cannot break away from it or risk the apocalypse, lol. We really work the drawn-out transitions here.

But we're just not really structured people. I'm not very organized and we just sort of jive with going with the flow each day.

Teresa - posted on 06/06/2011

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School days are easiest because we get up at the same time, off to the bus etc.

Summers are harder but I like the flexibility too.

Breakfast within an hour of waking.
Personal care next (hair, teeth, dressing)
Chores
Free time
Lunch
Play time in the pool
Rest time
More chores
Meal time prep
Clean up
Bed time routine (shower, teeth, jammies)
Bed

That is our Summer time routine. Insert vacation bible school this week and Summer Reading trip to the library starting next week as well as reading time.

Stifler's - posted on 06/06/2011

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honestly... i structure it around food. logan wakes up around 630 we have breakfast at 7 (i feed renae whenever because she's too young for routines), i put washing on, we do get dressed and do some kind of activity like building blocks or drawing in his scrapbook or read a story, he has morning tea and quiet time in his room then he plays outside and i watch from inside or just runs around the house with his lawnmower or pram then we have lunch then he goes for a nap then we go for a walk or something to the park or do errands out in the car (which will be changing since i can't drive) then i get washing off and fold it, dinner (for logan) at 530ish (he;s usually hungry) more playing until damo gets home he and i have tea damo takes logan for a bath and logan goes to bed around 630-730 at the latest.

[deleted account]

I'm a list person too. Not as extreme as Kelly (not that I'm suggesting the extreme is a bad thing), but when I have anything important coming up the next day, I'll make a list of what needs to be done, work out the most efficient schedule/time-line.



On a normal day where we have nothing planned its.....



6am (approx) - Roxanne wakes up, and wakes me up if I'm not already. I quickly get her breakfast ready because I've always encouraged her to eat first thing, and she's a hungry lil' hippo by morning.



8am - Tidy up the kitchen when she's done. Roxanne follows me around and helps me make beds, pick out her clothes, start laundry etc. Lots of breaks to play in between.



10am - She showers before bed so I'll let her watch tv while I shower and get myself ready, sometimes with a snack to keep her occupied while I'm busy. Plus she's a foodie and eats the majority of her calories in the am.



11am - typically she's ready for a nap (quiet time if she's really not tired). I'm on the computer! :)))



2pm - She's typically up by now, so we'll do some kind of activity. Has another quick snack. Play outside, go for a walk, do puzzles, color, blow bubbles lately because the weather has been nice etc.



4pm - start getting dinner ready and she's usually allowed to watch another 1/2 hour show to keep her out of my way unless she wants to play outside. The backyard is off the kitchen with huge windows and a sliding door so it's great because I can see her and hear her.



5-6pm - eat dinner, get kitchen cleaned up, play for a few minutes, have a bath etc.



7-8pm - BEDTIME, after a story or two and a good tooth brushing.



And some days we do SWEET FUCK ALL! Weeeee! Of course when we have a busy day planned this "schedule" is rearranged accordingly. Roxanne is pretty flexible with her napping. Sometimes I put her down after lunchtime around 2, and some days she has to catch a nap on the fly if I'm super busy. She's pretty easy going now that she's a bit older.



Now all that being said, and as much as I like structure, I've learned to be flexible with times and leave room for error because shit happens and things don't always work out.



I have no idea if this is helpful but that's an average boring day in the life of.....



Sorry you're having so much trouble.

Rosie - posted on 06/05/2011

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well, i work from 5 am to 10 am so chad is with them at that time. right now school is out so it's different than before, he just lets him do what he wants after he does his chores the dog water and empty dishwasher.
i come home, and i usually start laundry and relax a bit. he's usually on the computer when i get home. after i get done relaxin which is like until 11ish, the boys go outside to play. grant doesn't really stick with one thing for very long (other than computer or video games) so he'll walk in watch tv a bit, go outside for a bit, come back in-you get the picture.
if i have errands to run, i usually do it during the time i said the boys go outside to play. grant usually stays home, he overwhelms me when in a store. he's always touching, jumping around, poking his brothers and i end up looking like a POS in a store with him. i usually give him a chore to do and tell him he can play on the computer after that if i'm out. we eat lunch at 12:30ish, then go out to play somemore. come back in for supper at like 6pm. some days he has baseball practice or games.
i guess i just am so confused on how structured to be. cause if i'm super strict that doesn't leave room for my other children to do things they need to do or want. plus, sometimes i just don't feel like doing my shopping at 3pm, maybe i had the energy to do it earlier, or later. IDK, i just feel so lost. i feel if i start a structured schedule it can't be broken.
do i tell him to go back outside when he's supposed to be outside and he does his wondering in and out stuff? i know i sound like an idiot, i feel like one trust me. i just am at a loss of what to do.

[deleted account]

What I do probably wouldn't work for you. We have a flexible schedule. If there is an interruption, no biggie, we just go with it. I keep a schedule for my benefit more so than for my kids. Just out of curiosity...and maybe so that we can get a better picture of what you are looking for...could you give us a rundown of your day and how your son handles it?

Charlie - posted on 06/05/2011

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Do you do the photos on a wall chart and get him to pick the activities ( including games , meals , bathing , bed ect ) at which he has to stick to for a certain amount of time ?



That is what we used at school for the kids with ADHD or Autism , it seemd to work well .



I don't have a structured day at home.

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