Well this is a tricky one! For some, it’s a truly happy time, no school for a whole week, wahoo! but for others it’s a week from hell and this is true for both parents and children.
In my house the half term holiday holds mixed feelings. I work term time only so I personally relish in the fact that I don’t have to get up and out for the school run. Nor do I have to referee the morning routine or negotiate behavioural consequences or rewards if the kids can leave the house without killing one another, all at a time when I’m barely awake myself. Although, as I relish in that though I also realise that this means that all the kids are in the house together for a longer period of time and therefore they are far more likely to fall out with one another. Oh and there is that small issue of knowing there is NO break from them!
Thankfully, I have found that there is a positive side to having teenagers – they sleep in! See, it’s not all bad! Gone are the days where they would be up at the crack of dawn regardless of what time they went to bed or whether is was a holiday or not. No, now I have to drag their lazy butts out of bed before they miss the second meal of the day! Oh, obviously that doesn’t include the hyperactive one! No he’s always up and bouncing, music blaring and wanting to plan the day. And this is where those feelings become mixed.
Unstructured time is really difficult for some children yet others need the down time and the break for routine. I happen to have two that need routine and can’t cope without it and two that need a break and just need to chill. Arggg!
This is really tricky as a parent, who is always striving to please everyone.
Aiden, now 18, is naturally lazy, he went from what felt like the terrible two’s, which starting at birth and lasted a decade, straight into being a teenager! Not sure when we progress from here but I live in hope! Although, no matter how lazy he is, Aiden needs structure. He needs a plan, he ‘loves’ a plan but he just doesn’t know how to create one. What I mean by that is, if I didn’t organise his day, he would simply do nothing. If I didn’t make him leave the house, he wouldn’t. He would sit in front of the television 24/7, eat the cupboards bare and sleep at completely inappropriate times and this isn’t because he is a teenage boy, he has always been this way, he just has less tantrums now. He doesn’t seek social interaction and he doesn’t seek entertainment. As a young child he never played with anything, he just didn’t really know how to. Due to his learning disability he is still unable to play computer games (which I guess could be a positive) but he just doesn’t know how to occupy his own time. This is tiring as a parent because it demands constant organisation on my part. It also means it’s always ‘my fault!’ My fault for making him do something he doesn’t want too, or my fault for not making him do something he does want too! Either way, I made him do it, therefore, according to him it’s ‘my fault!’
It’s ok, I learned early on not to take to heart all the anger and upset that he directs my way because I know how much he benefits from the outings we have. His anger is anxiety and his upset is often his frustration through his lack of understanding. However, even knowing this, it doesn’t make it easy especially when you throw the other kids into the mix.
Anyway in true autism style and even with my lack of strong organisational skills we have a plan.
The plan consists of the weeks activities, the weeks jobs list and also includes plenty of time to chill and slump in front of the tele. This works for the sloth like teenagers because they know they are going to get their down time, it works for the hyper one as he can see when he has gaming/screen time and if he needs to add extra gym sessions to burn his energy he knows he can do it in these times and it works for Aiden, because it’s ‘a plan’ and even if he doesn’t like what’s on the plan he has time to digest it and can see that his tv ‘safe’ time is going to happen.
Equally it also works well for me! Breaking the days and week up into manageable size chunks doesn’t make the week seem like such a mammoth task. It also means at the end of the day, I know exactly what time I can chill and pour that well deserved glass of wine knowing that the kids have all had a happy day.
So thankfully for me this half term happiness wins but believe me, it hasn’t always been this way!
Get a plan! It’s hard work but hard work is far better than hell!