Spring Break was a great success! I structured enough of it that Michael was busy, and managed a little bit of down time for me. It was the hour change that has truly done us in this year, more so than other years. Yes, springing forward with the hour more of daylight has not been an easy one at our home. Other years there were behaviors, minor ones, crankiness, and discord. This year, due to high blood sugar which is coming from Michael’s medication, fighting a cold AND the hour change, Dad and I feel stressed as Michael has been REALLY off. Michael is not going to bed easily as the “new” time is an hour before his “old” time. The higher blood sugar has spiked the behaviors we were getting under control, and Dad and I are also more tired as our bodies are still adjusting to the new time. I will probably have adjusted tomorrow or on Thursday. It takes Dad until the end of the week. So tired, behavioral child who does not want to sleep until 10:00 pm does not make for rested happy parents. And then the mornings are harder too as getting up is difficult. This is harder on Mom than Dad, but the stress still does affect the unit.
I feel so much for my little guy as the medication he is on make him sleepy early in the pm and he sometimes falls asleep on the couch. It can in turn raise blood sugar, though it has made him have better control over his emotions. Then there are his usual night fears. It’s not easy for him or us. What do we do to cope with it? Well, the first few days of the hour change we pretty much just go with flow. If he can’t sleep on time and sleeps in, I don’t get angry and will even drive him into school when he misses the school bus. I am fortunate with my work schedule that I have been able to do this. But, I make sure to remind him he needs to get used to the new routine and start bedtime a little earlier so that getting up in the am is not a big problem. Here are some tricks I use that will work once his body and brain adjust to the time change:
1) A promised reward for getting ready earlier for bedtime: We have a points system in place, and the reward is usually a little more A/V time which, believe it or not, settles him. This does not work for all parents I know. Some kids CANNOT do A/V before bed, but with Michael it works.
2) A relaxing bath before shower: Michael is my little “spa boy.” I don’t know if it is because I love baths and spas and he is interested due to seeing me gravitating once again to replenishing my soul this way, but he LOVES to take a bath with lavender oil, put on relaxation music, and light candles, just like Mommy. It helps calm his body and mind.
3) Practicing an earlier bedtime before the time change: Guilty as charged that this year I did not do this. I honestly did not know the time change was coming on the heels of Spring Break, being so involved with medication recording, behavior recording ,and trying to have fun with my kid on Spring Break. If I had done my usual homework, I would have started “practicing” for the hour change by having Michael go to bed a little earlier a few days before.
4) Lots more physical activity: We had an active week, but on Saturday and Sunday I would have made sure there was WAY more physical activity to help stimulate sleep. Circumstances this year prevented this, but this is a trick that can help parents. When your kid is tired yet relaxed from all the movement, they will sleep better at any time.
5) Anticipating more behaviors due to exhaustion and preparing myself for it: This one I have pretty much mastered, but I have to admit that the behaviors we experienced on the first day back to school AND with the hour change even took me by surprise. That’s when I realized the other elements in play now- diabetes, side effects from medication along with standard ones, his autism and anxiety and a small cold. We rode it as best as we could last night, but it was challenging. What I learned is something I tell other parents and I live by: “Expect the unexpected and do your best to stay present and in the moment.” Things ended on a happier note yesterday as a result of this, and I learned what I will do next year and NOT do.
Exceptional Parents, how are you and your family surviving the “springing forward” hour change? Is losing that hour in the am throwing your child off? Remember, like other behaviors, as hard as it is, it is temporary. As you get to know what helps your child feel whole and balanced, you will be able to help them find strategies to use when there are changes in their daily routine. Go easy on them. Like you, they are tired and getting used to a new way of doing things. With time, you will both get back into a new routine. Until next time.
Feeling stressed about special needs parenting? Feeling like it isn’t what you signed up for as a Mom or Dad? You are not alone. I have been there and lived these very words. What helps me is remembering that my son and I both have a team. Besides the wonderful professionals we have worked with and continue to work with, family, friends, Mom friends in particular, make up my biggest cheering section. To find out some easy tips to handle anxiety in special needs parenting you can download my FREE E-BOOK “5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL PARENTING” at http://www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com/ebooks