And so comes the time to look back at the last few months and assess what has worked, what hasn’t worked, what to change and what to keep. I probably wouldn’t be doing this except that we tried to make a monumental change and I’m not sure we’ve managed it well. In my former career, “continuous process improvement” was actually part of one of my job titles. It’s something I fully embrace.
So let’s review…
What has worked/what to keep:
- BigGuy getting up early to do work with Papa
- ONLY scheduling things for afternoons
- Sitting with BigGuy while he does his work
- Keeping both kids away from the screens too often
- Reading in the big bed
- Snuggling in the morning before we start the day. BigGuy seems to especially need this physical contact early in the day. It makes a rather clear and obvious difference. We’re noticing that he might be much more affected by “energy”. Investigating that.
What hasn’t worked:
- My occasionally freaking out about not “doing schoolwork” or not having BigGuy live up to his potential or what other people will say if/when my kids don’t go to college and unleashing that on the household. I think my feelings that I’m not living up to what BigGuy asked for this year are really wearing on me in this respect.
- Letting the chores go. NOBODY is happy in a messy house and NOBODY is happy when the mess becomes “more” mess to clean up.
- Slacking on our meals. Eating out has knocked us out 42 ways to Sunday… both in finances and the toll it has taken on my kids behavior/emotional health.
- Slacking on my work hours.
What to change:
- Girly needs way more engagement. Way. Not just in learning (which she wants) but just in being present with her. Actually, both of them need me to be more present with them.
- BigGuy really needs me to get my shit together and get consistent with his assignments where they call for my involvement. I have SO NOT done well with this.
- The kids need more one-on-one time with both parents. “Kid dates” need to happen more often (like once/month per kid per parent).
- Mama needs to go back to working regularly scheduled hours and not just when she has clients. When I don’t, I find myself “grabbing time” wherever I can and it spirals into more time than it should. That needs to stop.
Overall, I think we’ve done some really good things, though. My own mental health is CLEARLY in a “recovered” stage–proven when I handled a monumental PTSD trigger so well that I almost forgot to tell my trauma therapist!! It’s still remarkable to me. It’s hard to tell how long it’s been so well managed because I honestly don’t recall the last time I had such a huge test of things. At least 6 months, and back then I handled it really well but not like this–where it was barely a blip on the radar. And this one was MONUMENTAL. To be fair, I’ve handled my triggers better than a lot of people with PTSD for many years. It’s just the two years prior to this past year that they really got difficult to manage and became unpleasant for all of us. Not dangerous at all. But definitely not happy. So I’m thankful that the last year of work has had such remarkable results.
We also really need to work on our children’s challenges. Thankfully, we have created a safe and loving enough environment that Girly has been able to really share her own struggles with her feelings. It might be time to start looking for yet another therapist to help her with her “big feelings”–mostly the profound sense of being unwanted. I’m thankful that there have been a few incidents in the last year that make it clear that she is letting down the wall and accepting that we love her no matter what. It’s SO huge. And she’s talking to us about her “big feelings” and that’s SO huge, too. Although she is still very much looking to be sure that we are at her soccer games or to pick her up after a class, she’s SO much more independent. At co-op, she will even go off to class by herself.
BigGuy really needs help with executive function skills and I need to sit down and really look at how we consistently implement that scaffolding for him. These are not CEO skills (although we will absolutely be implementing business and finance skills with our kids). These are the foundation skills that affect multiple areas of your life. There is an awesome site for help called Understand.org (which is an awesome site for parents of kids with learning challenges) and they have a great primer on what executive function skills are. We will be working on a lot of these skills with BigGuy.
In reality, my kids will learn more, learn it quickly and more fluently when they are on a solid foundation. So taking a year (or two) to manage those things now aren’t a big deal to me. We’ve already seen that kind of progress with BigGuy over the course of his Kindergarten year–which was just remarkable.
My kids have just come so, so far. I love them so much; and I am so thankful to be able to be here for them and with them. Mama will be in school starting in January so I will need to really be organized, but we’re getting there. I also feel really good about how the organizational effort is coming along…