The art of “relaxing” is definitely a lost art in the Sylfest house. We learned a long time ago that our hardest times of the day are the moments that are supposed to be the snuggliest and most relaxing. I had this idea of our parenting journey that included the kiddos crawling into bed with us in the morning to watch a cartoon. Or all of us snuggling under a blanket on Friday night with popcorn. And, those are really great visions. And I often hear my friends recount stories about these types of moments and I cannot help but feel a little sad. And a little tired. You see, when we learned that relaxation was not really “our thing” we did what we do with all of the other moments of our life…we scheduled.
Down time is particularly difficult for Grayson. He has a hard time sitting down next to someone without being overstimulated and needing to touch or hit or jump on that person. There is about a 5 minute window right after he wakes up and right before he goes to bed that you may be able to grab a quick snuggle while he drinks his milk. But that moment ends abruptly. Usually partnered with a punch to the arm or an unexpected jump that sends my coffee flying. And from that moment…it is go time. That 5 minutes is the end of our “sitting” time for the day. We do what we know works; we make a schedule. We move from one activing to the next setting clear expectations. Our visual schedules started simple when Grayson was 2 years old, but they have since evolved. We can map out a sequence of up to 5 activities for Grayson that schedule out a block of time. He uses these schedules in therapy. So using them at home helps create consistency. It also makes getting through the days easier.
There are a lot of times that I wish our life was less scheduled. That I long for a “go-with-the flow” day that is adaptable and un-scheduled. There are times when we are invited to something spur of the moment and we wonder about the consequences of saying yes. Occasions when we are invited on an overnight visit and we worry about our schedule and our behavioral plan and how it will adapt with us as we travel. You may be reading this and thinking that we are nuts. That it is crazy to have a schedule so strict. There are moments when I think even the people closest to us question the authenticity of our true need for the schedule. Moments when they question our approach and wonder if it really isn’t more about us than it is Grayson. And in the beginning I used to let those reactions hold me down. I used to let the disappointment of saying “no” wash over me. I let it linger with me and I would feel bad for days. I would myself questions our approach. I would question whether or not we were doing the right things for Grayson, for our family. And in the beginning a lot of times we said “yes” when we knew “’no” was the right answer. And we said “yes” because I hated the feeling of being second guessed. I hated knowing that people thought we were copping out of living life. Life the way they thought we should be living it. Life they assumed could be lived the same way that there’s was.
Along this journey acceptance washes over you in the strangest of moments. I actually remember the day I decided to stop saying “yes” when I wanted to say “no”. I remember how liberating it felt to decide that is was ok to do what we thought was best. Even if it made people question us. Even if it made people second guess our approach. You see, we make the choices we do because only the four of us live this life every day. There are lot of people that get to see pockets of time, moments of our life. But no one sees the whole thing. When I talk about our therapy schedule people always ask how we get it all in during the week. And the truth is that it is not easy. On top of the therapy hours there is a lot of time spent in our house preparing for therapy. Can you imagine what it would be like to have a revolving door of people in your house every day of the week and Saturday? To never have a moment to let the mess pile up or the dishes over flow? To live in a house that is “company ready” at all times? And sure, they tell us to live our life normally and not worry about our house. But if you know me at all you know that this is not an option. So we live in a house that is always ready for visitors.
So we take on each day. And every day is a little bit of the same and a little bit of different. Someone somewhere along the way told me they would love to see a time study of everything we cram into a day. This morning I was home alone with my boys. We were scheduled to have therapy from 9am-12pm and other than that planned to spend the day around home. So I grabbed my iphone and kept a log of our morning together….
- 6:53am Grayson wakes up, walks to hallway, sits down and makes noises trying to wake me up.
- 6:55am I set a 5 minute timer for Grayson to take his pull-up off and go potty.
- 7am Timer goes off, Grayson melts down about going potty.
- 7am-7:05am Grayson throws toys around the house and slams door in an effort not to go potty.
- 7:05am Grayson goes potty.
- 7:06am Grayson melts down about putting underwear on.
*Side Note: Potty training is still pretty new for us and he is handling it like a pro. Mornings are tough for him some days. Today was a tough day.
- 7:08am Grayson drink his milk on the couch will all of his blankets. He still moans when he drinks (aka slams) his milk like he did when he was a baby. It is probably one of my favorite moments of the day. He also still hold his little lovey “ducky”. It is one of very few moments in a day when he is completely relaxed and still.
- 7:09am Mommy makes coffee #1.
- 7:10am Rowan wakes up, I change his diaper and bring him out.
- 7:12am We make a visual schedule for the morning: (1) Watch a show (2) Eat Breakfast (3) Get Dressed, (4) iPad, (5) Therapy with technician.
- 7:13am all 3 of us sit on the couch and Grayson demands “Might Machines” on Netflix.
- 7:14am Grayson hits me on the arm and starts jumping towards me on the couch
- 7:15am I take my coffee and hide out in the kitchen.
- 7:18am Rowan runs into the kitchen demanding pretzels.
- 7:25am potty alarm goes off and Grayson goes potty without incident.
- 7:35am Rowan and Grayson dump every single toy in the playroom onto the floor.
- 7:38am we begin cleaning up every single toy in the playroom. And by “we” I mean “me”.
- 7:42am I begin making breakfast.
- 7:50am potty alarm goes off and Grayson goes potty without incident.
- 7:53am I have been awake for 1 hour and my Fitbit tally is 1,342 steps.
- 8am Rowan and Grayson sit at the breakfast bar and eat breakfast. Rowan demands milk and then throws it. Rowan demands water in his Elsa cup and then throws it. Rowan demands water in his Tinker Bell cup and then actually drinks it.
- 8:05am Mommy makes coffee #2
- 8:10am both boys get down from breakfast having eaten basically nothing.
- 8:12am Grayson takes a 4 minute time out for being too rough with Rowan. He gets down 12 times during the time out.
- 8:15am there is a moment of peace in the palace.
- 8:17am Mommy microwaves her coffee.
- 8:20am Rowan is in 2 minute time out for hitting mommy and yelling “stop it”.
- 8:20am Potty alarm goes off and Grayson attempts to poop in the potty.
- 8:25am Success!
- 8:30am Grayson gets an iPad as a reward for pooping.
- 8:31am Rowan demands an iPad.
- 8:32-8:44am Both boys play independently on their iPad.
- 8:33am Mommy microwaves her coffee.
- 8:45am Potty alarm goes off and Grayson goes potty without incident
- 8:49am Mommy microwaves her coffee.
- 8:50-8:57 Rowan and Grayson sit together on the couch and watch the same iPad screen. This is crazy super ridiculously rare and awesome!
- 8:53am I have been awake for 2 hours and my Fitbit tally is 2,042 steps.
- 9:04am Technician calls to delay 9am session to 10:30. Meanwhile Grayson is pressed against the window awaiting the tech. To distract him we adjust and bundle up to go outside.
- 9:10am Every single toy outside gets dumped into the yard.
- 9:35 Potty alarm goes off but Grayson is sad about going inside. In process he pees his pants. We go inside and change his clothes.
- 9:37am Hot chocolate to warm up from outside.
- 9:39am Make a visual schedule (1) Plah-doh, (2) Snack, (3) Therapy
- 9:43 Mommy makes coffee number 3 while realizing she has eaten nothing but coffee.
- 9:45 -10:15am Play-Doh, this is a long time for us to do an activity.
- 9:53am I have been awake for 3 hours and my Fitbit tally is 3,105
- 9:55am Potty alarm goes off and Grayson goes potty without incident.
- 10:18am Technician arrives.
- 10:20am Grayson does not handle the transition well. Pushes Rowan and he falls down and bumps his head. Gray takes a 4 minute break in his room.
- 10:22am During Grayson’s break he pees in his pants 3 minutes before the next potty alarm. We change clothes again.
- 10:25am Grayson and the Technician go downstairs for session.
- 10:26am Rowan help mommy clean up Play-doh and then chooses a snack and Tangled. He enjoys a few minutes of peace.
- 10:28 Mommy realized she make 3rd coffee 45 minutes ago and never drank it. Coffee goes in the microwave.
- 10:30 Mommy changes the laundry over.
- 10:32 Mommy cleans the boys bathroom (potty training is gross).
- 10:53 I have been awake for 4 hours and my Fitbit tally is 3,905.
- 11am Shakeology for survival.
- 11:05am Grayson comes up on break.
- 11:10am Grayson pushes Rowan down. After some convincing he says sorry and gives him a kiss.
- 11:15am Potty alarm goes off and Grayson goes potty without incident and then goes back downstairs for more session.
- 11:20am Grammie stops into drop off some things off.
- 11:25am Technician races upstairs with Grayson who is on the verge of a poop.
- 11:30am Poop success! Back downstairs for more session.
- 11:32am Mommy warms her coffee in microwave again.
- 11:53am I have been awake for 5 hours and my Fitbit tally is 5,304.
- 11:59am Mommy warms her coffee in the microwave, again.
- 12pm Visual Schedule for family session: (1) Game, (2) Puzzle, (3) iPad time
- The family session did not go well. Gray was tired and distracted both boys were hitting and unfocused. After a Rowan timeout and then a Grayson time out we decided to call the session early.
- 12:38pm Grayson goes into bed for iPad time before nap (iPad time is a reward for pooping in the potty earlier).
- 12:53pm I have been awake for 6 hours and my Fitbit tally is 6,458.
- 1:08pm Rowan goes down for a nap.
- 1:12pm 21 Day Fix Pilates Fix.
- 1:45pm Shower.
- 2:15pm Mommy sits down to eat a meal and write a blog.
This was actually a really interesting experience. I always joke about how many times a day I microwave my coffee, but holy cow! During the week I drink 1 coffee while I get ready and 1 while I drive to work. I never microwave them one single time. Just one example of different it is trying to do “normal” daily activities surrounded by kiddos.
Our life is crazy and insane and wonderful and exhausting. And some days we do a better job than other days. Some days we get off of track. Somedays things happen. Technicians cancel or come late. It rains after we’ve “scheduled” outside time. The iPad freezes during iPad time. These things happen and they help us teach Grayson, and Rowan, patience and tolerance. They help us remember that even though life is easier with a schedule; there are some moments in life you cannot plan for.