So today is Father’s Day, one of the many days in the year where things are expected to be a little different to other days. Each of these special days should be fun, relaxing and full of love, friendship and generally warm fuzzy feelings. It’s not always that simple though, especially if you have ADHD, a family with ADHD and Autism and a number of father’s that need to be catered for.
Some of us have lost their father so it’s already a day charged with emotion, with loss and sadness but hopefully some happy memories. I came very close to losing my father last year but he pulled through so I was able to celebrate this one with him which for me is quite emotional. My husband on the other hand lost his father a number of years ago, he’s not a sentimental man so he doesn’t seem to dwell on it, but I’m always mindful of his loss.
As you know I have three children, my eldest child was born out of my first marriage. Remember the guy I moved away with when I was 18? I married him and we were married for three years before it ended, I was six months pregnant at the time so there are two fathers to bear in mind when planning cards and presents and general day running. My first husband lives in Scotland so sending a card in advance is essential and this year I actually managed to remember to get the card bought, written and posted so I’m definitely seeing the benefits of these new planning strategies that I’m writing about. In fact I was able to actually ask the children which cards they wanted to buy and make sure I had gifts sorted and, once I’d remembered where I’d hidden them, they were all written and sealed last night ready to present this morning.
The logistics of the day, however, we’re less well planned and organised. This is a journey, and I’m not at the destination yet! The biggest problem that we face as a family is that planning days out is a risky business. We have three completely different children, and all three of them have very different ideas on how they’d like to spend their time. We find that we have to be spontaneous in our decisions to fit with our youngest child, who struggles greatly with waiting for things, yet it leaves the other two ill-prepared for what to expect.
The kids wanted to give their Dad the cards and presents first thing, and for them, their duty was done at this point, they just wanted to go back to their ordinary day. We had anticipated this to an extent and so all three of them were left with my mother-in-law while my husband and I went to church so we could see my Dad. It would have been nice if the kids had come too, but I was willing to give them a bit of time out and I was able to give my Dad a hug and a card and know that I had the rest of the day for some family time with the kids.
I wanted to do something special, like go out for a meal, but trying to convince the others of this plan wasn’t easy. By the time we had finally convinced all three children to go out for lunch there was no possible way of booking a table. This was definitely an issue and is not recommended! I am yet to come up with a solution for going out as a family that does not end in frustration and tears for at least one of us.
It can be uncomfortable when you realise that your family is not picture perfect. We struck it lucky with the second pub we tried in finding a table but our youngest son, who had been reluctant to come along but had changed his mind at the last minute, immediately decided he had made a mistake.
In my haste to get out of the door and actually get to a pub or restaurant before he changed his mind I had not considered bringing anything with us that could keep him occupied. My ADHD was in ‘let’s just do this’ mode instead of ‘wait, what will make this work?’ mode. Within around 30 seconds of sitting down at the table our little boy announced that he was bored. So bored in fact, that he wished he’d never come with us. I felt the tension radiate from my husband and tried to encourage everyone to choose something to eat whilst ignoring the small boy who was becoming more audible about his displeasure.
The couple on the table behind us actually moved to another table. Again, I felt the tension rise on the right hand side of me and tried to speed things along. This was not the lovely family meal I had pictured, so while my husband dutifully went and ordered, I tried to distract my son by talking about computer games. We talked about the new Lego Dimensions characters that have been announced and how the new Skylanders expansion would be different to all the others.
It sort of worked, but by not taking five minutes to gather some things together before we left, I had essentially doomed the meal. We ate as fast as we could, our son refused to eat or drink anything, and we were back in the car before we’d swallowed our last mouthful. Had I used any form of planning today? No, I had not. I had fallen into the trap of being so pleased that I’d sorted out all the cards and presents that I thought Father’s Day was covered.
The rest of today has been disjointed, it’s fallen to fire fighting between the younger two children as our youngest still hasn’t wound down properly and myself and my husband are taking turns in trying to keep them apart and keep him occupied. Not really the warm fuzzy feelings I was hoping to conjure up but it’s all a learning curve.
Over the next few weeks I’m going to be trying a few things to see if I can come up with ways of dealing with spontaneous family outings. Next weekend there’s a big day out planned from our Church and my immediate reaction is to just leave all the kids at home as there is no way that they will cope. But maybe I’m more worried about how I will cope, than how they will manage the day, so I have a week to plan the perfect family trip and see if I can get at least one of them to come with us and actually enjoy it!
If you have any suggestions for me to try, feel free to leave them in the comments section or contact me here. My first step will be to make a kit list for each child, but I’m going to need a brainstorming session. Good thing that this ADHD brain of mine has a way of thinking up creative ideas!