I am the parent of a child with inattentive adhd, who is also gifted. Not in the sense of all children have gifts but academically gifted. These two diagnoses each provide their own set of challenges. I have learnt that I need to choose my battles carefully. I have learnt that not every hill is worth dying on. I have to weigh up the emotional costs to both of us and whether those fights are worth it in the long run.
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It’s OK if you don’t miss your child
I have a controversial confession to make, I don’t always miss my son when I am not spending time with him. For a long time I felt guilty about it because I thought that it proved that I didn’t have a bond with my son. It sounds strange when I write it down, I’m feeling guilty about not feeling guilty.When I organise to have child free time I do it with people who I trust. I know that he is safe when I am not with him and that the people he is spending time with care about his well being. I wouldn’t leave him if they didn’t. So it suddenly occurred to me a couple of years ago, that I didn’t need to feel guilty when he was spending time with other people.
Society tells women that if they are mothers, then they should want to be with their children all of the time. The first question to working mother’s is often ‘who has your children’, like you’ve committed some kind of sin by not spending every waking moment with them. On the flip side men are asked where their partners are if they are seen outside the house alone with their children.
I still think about Mr 6 when I’m not with him. A few taxi drivers have been treated too an excited ‘oo look it’s a fire truck’. The joys of having a child who is obsessed with emergency vehicles! I think about him and I wonder what he is getting up to but I don’t miss him.
Often when I am having child free time, Mr 6 is with Paul or his sisters and their kids. He has an awesome time when he is with them. They do the things that I don’t particularly like doing and he enjoys the time with kids his own age. I don’t feel guilty about that time anymore because I know how happy that time makes him.
If you are spending time away from your child or children please don’t feel guilty when you don’t miss them. Please enjoy the time you have to yourself and know that having that time to recharge is OK. It’s OK to have a life that doesn’t completely revolve around your children. It’s OK if sometimes you need to take time out to catch your breath. We’ve all been there. It’s OK.
Do you miss your children when you spending planned time apart?
When was the last time you had child free time?
The government’s mental health overhaul
This week the government held a press conference to announce their overhaul of the current mental health system. The media is celebrating this announcement as the Turnbull Government finally listening to the cries of it’s most vulnerable citizens. However I have a few concerns about the announcements and the potential for the changes to make things much worse than they already are.
The main selling point for the overhaul seems to be the personalised care plans, which in theory do sound great. It would be amazing to have a system that focused purely on the needs and wants of the client, rather than a one size fits all approach. After all, everyone’s experience of mental illness is different and as such, we all need different approaches to health care.
The government is talking about a “stepped care” model of treatment that focuses on patients varying levels of care. This model has also been likened to the current NDIS, a system which has already shown to be inadequate for the needs of the disabled community. I’m also concerned about who will be determining the services that a patient needs. Will there be avenues for reassessment if a patient who was once happy with a hands off approach becomes more unwell? Will an official diagnosis be required in order to receive these services?
Part of the new approach to mental health care is utilising online and telephone counselling more often. This is another great initiative, especially for those who live in rural areas and are unable to access adequate mental health treatment. Online and telephone counselling services will also open up counselling to those struggling with psychiatric conditions that make it difficult to access in person care. Of course there is also the added anxiety if it is up to the client to initiate these services. I know that myself and others struggle with phone anxiety.
In the announcement, Turnbull stated that the current level of federal government funding would remain unchanged at 10 million per financial year. Again this is quite concerning. The current amount of funding is inadequate to provide a one size fits all model of care that focuses on crisis care rather than long term treatment. I’m really not sure how this new model can be implemented without additional funding. I worry that this will be nothing more than a pipe dream, with those on the ground bearing the brunt of the frustration.
Currently everyone can access 10 subsidised sessions to see a mental health professional under the mental health plan. The overhaul appears to remove these sessions and replace them with the steps approach to care. The government has touted this measure as proof that they are listening to the people of Australia. However I’m not sure that absorbing these sessions into this step model of care is the right way to go about this. Again, will an official diagnosis be required to access these sessions?
I do think it’s great that the Turnbull Government is finally focusing on mental health treatment in this country. It has been pushed to the side for too long. However I do worry that this is being sold to the voters as a revolution when in reality it has the potential to make things worse for a lot of vulnerable people. It’s appalling that while the government is paying attention, that they are still failing to realise that the mental health system is seriously underfunded. Paying attention is a step in the right direction, but at the moment it’s just words, we need them to put money where their mouth is.
Do you think that the varied step model approach is the right way to go?
What ways do you think that the current government could improve mental health services in this country?
The phrase that changed meal time
Like our sleeping issues, around the age of two Mr 6 decided that most food was in fact gross and he was having no part of it. I look back at photos of him trying solids where he at almost anything put in front of him and it’s enough to make to me scream. Meal times became a struggle and a lot of the time I wondered why I even bothered cooking delicious meals. The first thing to go was the kitchen table. Mr 6 seemed to get quite distressed about being made to sit and eat. Even now he often walks around or bounces his legs while eating. The social etiquette of eating at a table just didn’t feel worth the stress it was putting on both Mr 6 and myself. He was eating more when meals were not as rigid too.
I tried so many things to get him to try new foods but none of them seemed to work. Everything seemed to end in tears and not always just his. I just wanted him to eat and I felt like a failure because my son’s diet consisted of plain pasta, bread and chicken nuggets…on a good day. Not even dousing things in sauce worked because he thought sauce was gross.
We resorted to bribery and threats, promising the world if he just took one bite of a new food. Of course it didn’t work and we got caught in the trap of giving him anything he wanted because at least it meant that he was eating. I worried that he wasn’t getting enough though, he wasn’t sleeping and now he wasn’t eating either.
This year his aversion to most food became glaringly obvious as I struggled to find things to fill his lunchbox with. I didn’t want him to have a lunch box filled with processed junk, but I still wanted him to have food. Then in April he stayed overnight at a friend’s house and it was a turning point.
Not only did he eat all of the food that was on offer but it was a plate filled with food he had never eaten before. I had a new trick up my sleeve. I knew that he would try it, I just had to change my own approach to it. It was so simple that I kicked myself for not thinking of it sooner.
I stopped telling him he had to eat what I put in front of him. I changed the language that I used. Instead of giving him an ultimatum I explained what the food was and told him that he didn’t have to eat it if he didn’t want to, but I would really like it if he at least tried it.
This method still isn’t 100%, we still have times where he just flat out refuses to eat. However I do think that giving him back some of the power of choice has helped him to try food that he would often refuse. Meal time is so much nicer for everyone too.
Do you have a fussy eater?
What have you found works?
5 tips for long distance travel with kids
I have done a few long distance trips on buses and trains with Mr 6 over the last 6 years. The first time that he and I made the 12 hour trip from my parents place on the train, he was only a couple of months old. We’ve done that trip a few times in the mean time and most recently we travelled 8 hours to visit a friend for the school holidays. I’ve picked up a few little tips along the way to make the trip easier for everyone involved.
1. If possible, book travel times to suit your kids.
Do you have kids that fall asleep as soon as the bus/train/plane takes off? Book travel for night time so that most of the trip will be taken up by sleep time. If your kids don’t like to sleep then daytime travel, when noise isn’t quite as frowned upon, might be better for you.
2. Pack a range of things for the kids to do in their own carry on bag.
Giving kids their own bag of stuff (make sure they can carry it too!) means that you can keep it all in one place and still have your own bag. I also let Mr 6 pick the things he wants to put in his bag so I know that they are things that he is going to enjoy. It also means that he will have things to entertain him once we get to our destination.
3. Charge all of the things.
What on earth did we do before technology!? On our most recent trip we took an Ipad, Ipod and a portable DVD player. I also put the DVDs in a CD carry case so I can take more movies without losing space. Also make sure you put any devices on airplane mode so that kids don’t accidentally use all of your data, especially on overseas trips! Bonus tip: Buy a portable charger to recharge devices on long haul trips. Also keep devices switched off when not in use to conserve battery.
4. Pack snacks and drinks (transport permitting)
Food on and around transport is by default either ridiculously expensive, tastes horrible or a mixture of both. If possible, pack a lunch box to last the trip or meal times can get very expensive, very quickly. There is also the added stress of getting yourself and the kids to the food service area and back again. The last time we took the train there was 9 carriages between where we were sitting and the food carriage. Due to the train being an old diesel service all of the doors were manual and you had to cross over the carriage joins to get to the next one. It took us 20 minutes just to walk to the Galley.
There are so many horror stories that go viral of obnoxious people on transport and kids that go feral. However my experience has been that those obnoxious people are just looking for someone to be obnoxious to and you know your kids, you know how they behave. In my experience getting worked up often exacerbates the situation, just smile, remind yourself that it’s only for a short time in the scheme of things. You will be OK.
Have you done any long distance travel with your kids?