Looking Up

When I last wrote, life was looking pretty bleak. I’m happy to say that, although October has been a month of ups and downs and more than its fair share of craziness, things overall are moving in the right direction. Though I am still exhausted! (But are we really surprised there?)

Emily

Though far from perfect, Emily’s behavior doesn’t seem *quite* as bad as it was. Yes, she still has moments of brattiness, but that is usually when she’s tired. Most days at school she’s OK. And she seems to be more affectionate these days, which I’m definitely fine with. Extra hugs and snuggles? OK!

My primary concern these days with Emily is back to the potty-training situation. *sigh* She had been doing well, but she’s starting to be stubborn again, not wanting to go. I’ve learned to stop asking her if she has to go most of the time, and instead just tell her she’s going. Even then she’ll fight me a bit, but she usually goes. If I take a more laid-back approach, we end up with accidents — several accidents. There have been days lately with 4-5 accidents. Of course that means more dirty clothes — right when my washing machine decides to conk out on me. Great. But we’re working through it.

Avery

My dear, sweet boy is making an appearance more often these days. Though not perfect, his behavior at school has been considerably better these past couple of weeks. I can’t say exactly what has caused the improvement, though his teacher and I have both been making efforts in this area. I am pleased to say that at Avery’s parent-teacher conference, his teacher did not dwell on the challenges that Avery has presented, but rather discussed some ideas she had to help him. She put a chart in place to encourage Avery’s positive behavior, with the reward being free reading time (he loves to read). She also brought in a big bin of her own son’s books (that he had outgrown), just for Avery. She offered a small bean bag to keep Avery’s hands busy. And asked his opinion on other things that might help him. I was told the literacy specialist was going to be testing him to see where he stood in the reading curriculum, so they would be able to best structure his days for success. And Avery said he’s been doing some kind of other testing, too. I was glad that at least a few of the people at his school were working to help him.

At home, I’ve made a few changes, as well. The most notable change is taking away screen time in the morning. Avery had gotten into the habit of turning on the TV or some device with video games first thing in the morning. Even if I limited how much, he still seemed overactive afterward, less willing or able to settle down and get ready for school. So I decided to try taking away all screen time in the morning. My theory was that the screen time was overstimulating his brain, making him need that constant activity and stimulation. Since he already had some difficulty with transitions, this did not set him up for success at school, where he needed to be calmer and more open to lower levels of stimulation. It seems to be working. Most days I notice a difference at home. And his behavior at school since I implemented this has been much better, as well. (Though it did correspond to the changes made by his teacher, as well, so it’s hard to say which had a greater impact. I’m sure both played a part.)

In any case, we’re moving in the right direction. Now I have to work on creating more definitive chores and responsibilities, both for Avery and Emily. They have both gotten into an entitled mentality, expecting things to be done for them. And I want to make sure they gain a greater sense of self-responsibility, realizing how their behavior affects others and how they can become more self-sufficient. We’ll get there.

Me

On a personal note, this has been a busy, crazy month. Emily’s birthday, a book fair, vendor events, trying to clean house….oh, and getting legally divorced. All positive activities, but I am left feeling a bit burned out — moving into the busiest time of the year! I’m starting to slip once again into that “I don’t feel like doing anything” mode. But this time I am doing what I can to nip that in the bud.

Over the last couple of months, my schedule has been all topsy turvy, dealing with last-minute, urgent activities, rather than setting me up for success with more gradual progress. And I think that has contributed greatly to the tired, burned-out feeling I’ve been experiencing. So first on the to do list is to get back into a routine, to schedule times when I will work on urgent items, and times to make progress on my more long-term goals. 

What I have found to be the biggest discouragement is looking around, feeling like nothing is getting done. So, while I do need to build in times to relax, I also need to push myself at times to make some kind of progress. The less I allow myself to do, the less I feel like doing. It’s a vicious cycle. For a while now I’ve realized that I work best on a deadline. So I’ve set a few in place, to encourage me to handle business items, household items, and other such things. Early registration also starts on Tuesday for grad school, so I have to figure that out soon, too.

Life is certainly not getting easier, but it is moving in the right direction, and overall I’m feeling more positive. November will be busy with events and holiday prep, but I’m hoping December will be a bit more relaxed so I can enjoy the holiday season with my kids. Christmas shopping is probably about two thirds complete. Bills are being paid. Goals are in place. With a little bit (OK, a lot) of effort, I know I’ll get there.

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