I am a creature of habit. This is not news, but I’ve been thinking a lot about this. I am trying to instill a sense of organization and cleanliness in my kids; some structure or routine which includes picking up after ourselves and keeping clean, along with the normal steps of things like bedtime (pajamas, teeth, hugs, and into bed?). I myself need this as much as they do and it’s clear to me now that structure and routine are long overdue. Things like taking dishes to the kitchen after eating, which should have always been done, is something they have a hard time with.
Let’s start there. Dishes and garbage. These used to be largely overlooked because we don’t usually eat together at the table as a family. Therefore, I was not immediately aware when they were done eating. More on that later. Lately I’ve noticed there are always food wrappers, dishes, banana peels, and all manner of things which should not have been left out. So I’ve been trying for a while to catch it right away, saying to them after every meal to take care of their dishes and garbage. They always need a reminder. Now I simply ask “Are you forgetting something?” and they know right away. So I think we are making progress. But it’s been slow. Why is that? Why is it so hard to remember something you’re told to do after every meal? Because we are creatures of habit.
Another habit that’s been hard to break is leaving clutter. We tend to utilize every flat surface of the house to hold various items, so much that the top of so many things are treated like a junk drawer. Why? For me, my mind is always on something other than completing the task at hand. When I get home I’m already thinking about making dinner when I pull into the driveway, not where I’m putting my keys or if I’ve even taken everything out of my car. Its so quick to just drop keys on the table walking by than to stop and empty my pockets in an orderly fashion. Until I got that under control, I used to search the house for wallet and keys every morning. Still happens sometimes. I had us all picking up and organizing the house last weekend because I was grtting tired of the kids always losing things. Tired of losing things myself. It was when I pulled out the couch to clean behind it that I came to the full realization of how much work we all need. Food wrappers everywhere. Toys. Spills. All of this mess was theirs yet I knew I couldn’t be mad. I had no right. I created this.
Let’s rewind about 32 years. My parents were just a bit younger than I am now. I was 5, and a handful. More than the average 5 year old. I had a hard time communicating what I was thinking. They’d ask why I did something and my honest answer was that I didn’t know. I was very in-the-moment, unable to consider time and what comes next. I had little understanding of consequences. I had ADHD. It was at this time I was officially diagnosed and everything wwas explained to my parents.
Your son needs structure and discipline in ways most kids don’t. He doesn’t see the world the same way.
They learned to create routine in every aspect of my life. To the point that when I’m done eating, I take my dishes to the sink; not as a conscious effort but routine. I don’t feel right if I’ve left something. I kind of absentmindedly do all the things. But they’re done right, as long as they’re part of a longstanding routine.
Back to the kids. They do not have this structure. They don’t have an ADHD diagnosis, but what child doesn’t exhibit the mind jumping straight to the next thing without making sure they’ve finished the task at hand?
I know there’s a lot of jumping around in this but the bottom line is that when we leave behind the routine and structure we need in our lives, it can affect the people around us. Neurotypical and ADHD alike have a tough battle when the ADHD’er in the house flips his lid because things are lost or out of order. It’s past time for me to get back to basics and get my house back in order.