Daily Routines for Your ADHD Family

Daily Routines for your ADHD FamilyLast week I talked about how to create a back to school routine for your family.

Now this just doesn’t apply to your kids. This applies to you as well.

My husband has told me time and time again that I do my best work, have the best attitude, and become overwhelmed a lot less often when I make a routine for myself and stick to it.

I’m very good at creating routines and schedules. Oh I could spend all day crafting charts, finding cute images to correlate with each task, and displaying them so neatly on my refrigerator. My problem comes with the follow-through. My personality despises doing anything wrong or pretty much “not perfect” in my eyes. I freeze when I can’t or don’t know how to start something just the right way.

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I need to remind myself constantly that these charts and schedules I create are for our family to use. They are of no good to anyone if they don’t accomplish the goal, which is to have a calm, peaceful, smoothly running household (as much as humanly possible).

These schedules are also designed to be flexible. Just because it says dinner is at 6:00 pm does not mean it’s always going to be at 6:00. Our schedule is a guideline for us to know if we’re getting on or off track with our daily duties.

I also customize our schedules and routines to help our 2 ADHD/ASD kiddos. Everything I’ve read stresses the importance of having a consistent routine and a visual schedule. Honestly, these tips work for any child. They thrive off of knowing what to expect. This provides security for them.

For children with special needs, such as ADHD or Autism, consistency and visual cues help tremendously with learning how to navigate and live in this often confusing and frustrating world.

These are just a few of the tools we use in our home to keep us all as sane as possible. Obviously there are days when things just don’t go right. And there are days when no matter how much you try to stick to the schedule it’s just not going to happen.

What I try to learn and teach my kids, during times like these, is that we still have a choice over how we react to what’s happening in the moment. We forget to pack our homework, or our lunch, or I forget my phone (have mercy if that ever happens!!!), or my work shoes, life is not over. No it’s not going to run exactly as planned but that’s OK. The most important things we have covered. God is in control, He is always with us and He loves us more than we can imagine.

In this week’s newsletter I’ll be sharing in more detail the specific schedule and routine I use as the “Family Manager” as my husband likes to call me. To sign up for the weekly newsletter (it’s free and also includes a free pdf “51 Ways to Calm an Anxious Child) click here


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4 Steps to Creating a Back to School Routine

It’s that time of year again. School supplies, new clothes, new backpacks, sports tryouts, after-school clubs, and everything else that comes with the beginning of a new school year. It’s also an opportunity to begin a brand new routine that will help your family have a well-prepared and chaotic free (as much as possible) school year.

Routines and schedules are just one tool that can help make this happen. The following steps are what we use in our home to help make the days as stress-free as we can.

Back to School Routine

Step #1 – Divide the day into 2 categories: Morning & Evening

Step #2 – Make a list of everything that needs to get done during a school day, from the moment the children wake up, until they go to bed. Place each task under one category. Some tasks may have more than 1 category, for example ‘brush teeth’ may fall under both morning and evening.

Our list looks like this:

Morning&Evening List

Step #3 – Organize your schedule in a way that works best for your family. You can simply write it out and post it on your refrigerator. You can type it out and laminate it so you can use a dry erase marker  to check off each task as it’s completed. You can add stickers, graphics, images, or real pictures of each task listed.

Step #4 – Once you have the schedule completed, show the entire family, children and spouse, what’s expected of them each and every day. My husband calls me the “Family Manager” and he helps out with the daily tasks as much as I do. It’s important that I communicate this schedule with him so if, for example, I ask him to help our son complete his morning chart, he’ll know exactly what I’m talking about.

Now here’s the great part of this system: You can use it for anything else in your life that needs direction or a process to help things work more smoothly.

I use this same system for myself. In the morning and evening, there are certain tasks I like to complete to help my days run more smoothly.

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I also use a system like this for our family’s chore chart. As a family, we sat down together with a list of everything that needs to be accomplished on a daily and weekly basis. Now that our kids are older I do get their input on which chores and tasks they’d like to complete. This helps them take ownership of each chore. Also when they complain about not wanting to do it I remind them that they chose that particular chore.

I’d like to share with you a template of what we have set up in our home. I tried to display these on a wall in our entryway so it looked nice, but that really didn’t work for us. The kitchen, not the entryway, is the hub of our home. So now I have the various schedules and charts we use hanging on our refrigerator or kitchen cupboards.

I’ll be sharing pictures of what we use in our home in my newsletter this week. To sign up for my FREE weekly newsletter, which also includes my free pdf “51 Ways to Calm an Anxious Child”click here.

Do you have schedules, routines and chore charts for your family? If so, do you use this same process or do you do something completely different? I’d love to know what you do in your family. Please share your pictures or your ideas in the comments below.

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How to Talk With Your Spouse Who is Struggling With Depression

Struggling with depressionMy husband has written a few articles on what it’s like to live with someone with depression. I truly appreciate his honesty and his openness to be vulnerable enough to talk about this with you.

As a minister, it’s often hard to admit when you’re struggling with something, whether it’s finances, family issues, or something that’s simply beyond your control.

In the articles he wrote he shared 8 changes he needed to make as a husband married to a woman with depression. The following quotes are from his article “A Spouse’s Response to Depression – Part 2”:

I had to learn to set aside time for Samantha.

This meant I needed to make her a priority in my life. She needs my time. This is how she is geared. I am not geared the same way. She needed to know that I would take the time to drop things to focus on her. This is a very hard step. Sometimes I came up with every possible reason why I couldn’t do it, but it is essential.

I had to learn to pray for my wife.

I actually had to learn how to pray from compassion and love for what Samantha was going through, instead of praying my selfish prayers. I am really good at praying selfishly. I had to learn to change that and pray for victory for her, not just for my own peace and harmony.

I had to learn to listen.

I am not naturally a great listener, and I have had to work very hard to learn how to listen to her. It was especially hard for me to listen with my ears open instead of my mouth.

I had to seek to understand.

I had to work to understand what Samantha was going through and not dismiss it. This was one of the biggest changes that had to be made. I wanted to be understood, and I didn’t want to try to understand what she was going through. I wrote depression off, and I wanted her to just agree with me. Stephen Covey wrote about this vital principle that should be applied to every interaction we have in his book, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”. I had to recognize that what my wife was telling me was real and serious.

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I had to learn who the real enemy was, and it wasn’t Samantha.

It dawned on me that I was battling against my wife instead of the real enemy. We were at war, and instead of firing our artillery at the enemy, we engaged in friendly fire. We were killing each other! Battling depression is just that: a battle. It is war. There is a cost to fighting in this war. There are wounds–anger, sadness, casualties, and pain—and the very comrades in arms that are supposed to fight together were inflicting much of this. I was so busy fighting Samantha that I forgot who the real enemy is.

I had to drop my pride.

I had to admit that there was a problem and get to the point that I wanted a solution, regardless of my fragile ego. This meant opening myself up to Samantha, others, and most importantly, to God. It meant that I had to seek help for my family. I had to be willing to participate in the solution and not just leave it to my wife to battle on her own. This may mean talking with a counselor also. I had to realize that her problems were also mine because God brought the two of us together and made us one.

I figured out when to grow a spine.

There are times when it is necessary to confront my wife. There are times when I’ve had to lovingly remind her that this is hard work, and we both do need to work at it. There are times when it’s necessary to correct, say no, or express feelings as well. I have had to get firm at times and tell Samantha that I do not want to be treated a certain way.  The secret was to learn how and when. Make sure it is done in love. Be very careful with this.

I had to give her permission to talk to someone else.

I had to give her permission to share with the counselor anything she needed to share. Also, I gave her full permission to share with one friend whatever she needed to share. This has become one of the most helpful things that we have ever done. We picked one lady that Samantha could share with my full support.  One of the greatest dangers is sharing with the wrong people or with too many people. I have seen a lot of marriages ruined because the wife, needing to talk to someone, started sharing with many people and the wrong people. This avenue can turn into a place for resentment to grow, bashing on your spouse, bad advice, and major steps backwards. Samantha and I mutually decided that she could share whatever she needed to share with our friend, Carrie. Carrie truly cares about Samantha, our family, and is filled with compassion. She had wisdom, she was mature, she was not a gossip, and she was spiritually sound and understood. Carrie was willing to love us no matter what. She could encourage, listen, pray, give biblical advice, and at times confront, stand firm, and keep accountability. Pick this person very carefully. The wrong person could do considerably more harm than good.

You can read more about our story here – “A Spouse’s Response to Depression – Part 1” and “How To Talk With Your Spouse About Your Depression”.

There are many marriages and relationships that are affected by mental illness, whether it’s depression, anxiety, or any other number of disorders. As a couple who has a lot of experience in this area, I’ve had many people ask for advice and guidance in how to communicate effectively about this issue in your relationship. I’ve taken the advice and guidance shared by both my husband and I and created a printable “How to Talk to Each Other About Depression”. You can access your free copy here.

If you struggle with depression or anxiety, have you been able to talk with your spouse about it? If your spouse is the one struggling, are you able to talk to him/her about how it’s affecting your relationship? I know this can be difficult. Download the free printable I mentioned above. If you use it and you do find it helpful, I’d love to know. Feel free to message me on Facebook or email me at samantha@livingwithrealjoy.com.

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How to Talk With Your Spouse About Your Depression

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This is a question that has been asked often of me, as I’ve shared how Chad and I worked through my depression together.  There really is not a simple quick answer for this. It really depends on the history of your relationship, the unique dynamics of your marriage, and your current situation. What I can do is give you some guidelines and ideas of what we’ve done to grow closer and strengthen our marriage through this trial.

Let me first explain why this takes a bit of strategic planning.

For years I treated Chad horribly. I didn’t understand what I was going through and blamed my anger, depression, and wretched behavior on Chad, believing he wasn’t meeting my needs, and on my role as a Mom, realizing this dream of cute, snuggly babies and an organized, clean house was definitely not reality. I know many parents have these thoughts, especially when it seems like all you do is cook, change diapers, and do laundry. Enough of that and anyone will go crazy.

I was a wreck, and I was blaming Chad and making it his responsibility to fix me. After being married for almost 20 years, I realize now that is not how marriage works.

When I started seeing a counselor and making small but noticeable changes, it was very, very difficult for Chad to trust me. Rightly so. He had every reason in the world to doubt my improvement or to believe it was just a short-lived change.

He did not expect me to be perfect. He never has but he did want respect from me, just as I wanted unconditional love from him. I had not shown him any respect for years.

So how were we able to grow from seriously thinking about a separation to a respectful and loving marriage?

(Yes, although my husband is a minister and we are both leaders in our church, we seriously considered separation. Do not ever think just because someone is a Christian or a church leader they are immune to worldly problems. If you ever have a church member going through something like this, do not judge. Offer to help and pray however you can. Let God take care of the rest.)

couple-walking-1245848-638x427 free imagesI Gave My Husband Time

This was actually difficult for me. You see, I noticed changes inside of myself before there were really any outwardly changes. What I mean by that is I knew God was renewing my mind, teaching his truths and throwing out the lies I had believed for so long. Naturally I thought Chad would notice the same thing right away. He did not.

I Offered My Husband Patience

There came a point where he did start to notice some changes. This was great news, but these changes were very, very slow. As I was living in depression for so many years, it was going to take a lot of work, on my part, the counselor’s part, and God’s part, to make these changes more and more consistent. Renewing your mind is a process. In fact, I don’t believe it’s ever done until we reach heaven. There is always room for improvement.

With these waning changes came waves of basically what I call temper tantrums. Yelling, talking down to my husband, unrealistic expectations of him, treating him like one of my children rather than my loving husband and partner. The different between these episodes and those pre-counseling are when I apologized I truly meant it. I no longer wanted to live this way or treat him like that. Again, it was very difficult for him to believe me, but with time he did choose to have faith in the process that God was taking me through.

I Offered My Husband Respect

When I needed to talk with Chad about something, I was respectful to him, just as when he talked with me, I needed him to do it in a loving and gentle way. We had fought, accused, and probably disliked each other for so long, that it was difficult for both of us to do this. If I wanted my husband to listen to me I needed to treat him with respect.

What is respect anyway? Merriam-Webster describes it as “a feeling or understanding that someone or something is important and should be treated in an appropriate way.” If I love my husband, he needs to know that he is important to me and I should treat him in such a way to show him he’s important to me.

What did this mean for us? I want to clarify here that Chad and I had our own problems, our own struggles, and our own solutions for both. Because of the way I treated him for so many years I had to make some obvious changes so he knew he was so very important to me.

The following are the changes I chose to make to show him respect:

Talking to him like an adult (not down to him)

No yelling at him.

Using kind words and a kind tone.

Being honest in a polite way.

For you and your spouse, this may look completely different. Actually it should look different. It should reflect your relationship and your marriage. These may seem so simple and almost too easy but these actions told my husband that I was serious about making changes. That I wanted his help, and I wanted to be his wife, rather than his mother.

Woman aloneI Helped My Husband Understand What Depression Was Like For Me

My husband had never experienced depression before and had no idea what it was or how it affected me. I had to help him understand it by being honest with him, telling him how I was feeling and asking him for help if I needed it.

When his father passed away unexpectedly, he did go through a bout of depression, rightly so. At that time he did tell me if this is what depression felt like for me all those years it must’ve been horrible. I never wanted him to go through any of that, but I am glad he was able to understand a bit of how I was feeling all those years.

I Created a Strategy with my Husband

We had to come up with some kind of plan for when I had a depressive episode. If I was going to continue living in victory with my depression, I needed help.

Again this reflected our personal relationship, how we communicated with each other, and what our goal was for our own marriage.

Our strategy consists of:

Open and honest communication. He cannot read my mind, nor can I read his. When I am feeling on edge, irritated or angry, I need to tell him and NOT WAIT until it gets too bad.

Time alone. Often I need 5-10 minutes alone – to pray, to read, to rest, or simply to be alone. If I need 5 minutes alone I say “Chad can you give me 5 minutes alone?” He knows what this means, that I’m feeling out of sorts, and I need to re-group.

Permission to take the night off. This may sound funny and I don’t want you to think my husband is some kind of tyrant. In fact, it’s the exact opposite in our home. If anyone’s a tyrant, it’s me. Seriously. I do not give myself permission to relax EVER! So if I’m feeling overwhelmed or it’s been a bad day at work or with the kids, I need to hear from someone else that it’s OK (and good) for me to come home and take the night off. This means no housework, no laundry, no cooking, and minimal childcare. Sometimes I’ll ask him if he can cook dinner, bring food home or we just let the kids eat cereal. He has never, NEVER, said he wouldn’t help when I’ve asked him.

These are just a few of the ways, that have worked for my husband and I, when it comes to talking with your spouse about depression.

What has worked for you and your spouse? If you’d like to add anything to this list please leave a comment below.

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