Saturday, October 22, 2011

Change: for the child who loves routine and predictability

Some days I wonder if all the effort that goes into making the life of my son more predictable stable and routine actually pays off. Is it actually worth it, what actually happens if I don't do what I do. Over the Holidays I conducted a holiday experiment (please read this blog post) to see what happens if I put some more structure routine and stayed home more, boy did it make a difference.

At this point in time I am not even sure that I could pinpoint what triggers my son when we go out. Oh can I see that when I don't do simple things it does trigger meltdowns things such as; making sure he is not hungry or thirsty, picking a good time of the day, not knowing where and when we are going somewhere (this is by far the biggest), how long do I take him out for and where and how many people will be there. For example the other day we had a stressful situation and we were sitting in the car trying to figure out how to address it, Josiah wanted to know where we were going and at that point we didn't know for sure so we couldn't tell him. This simple fact meant for the next hour his behaviour was not great, he had more than one meltdown in a short space of time. Information is key.

Currently I am 36 weeks pregnant and expecting bub in the very near future. As you can imagine my son's life is about to be turned upside down. I am not thinking this is going to be an easy experience to say the least. Because I am having surgery it will mean that I need to stay in longer. At the moment I am also able to do less of looking after the kids, I find it hard to do all kinds of things, making life a little tricky.

So after some discussion with the Psychologist, she did feel that Josiah is at risk at the moment of being overwhelmed by the situation, so the transition of change needs to be as planned as possible. Which means that I will be doing up routines, after school activity books, weekly type schedules and what to take to school things as well. I have had to think of the things that are important in the area of rules when he stays with relatives and we are aiming to have him stay at home on the school nights and do what we can to help life feel ok for both my boys really. So I have quite a bit of work ahead of me.. will post soon with pics of the routines I am doing up in boardmaker so you can see what I am doing.

If anyone has an sensory ideas that can help in reducing stress, calming that type of thing that I can throw into his backpack to give him some extra help please feel free to comment I would love to hear from you!!!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Using Technology to make life simpler (part two)

In my last post we discussed how we can use Google to create calendar's share with others and how this can make life simpler just by seeing what is happening when and where and by whom. Ironically since my last post I have been very busy with the some online activities and life. So next I will discuss some great systems that exist online that you can use either with your smart phone or just online. All of these systems I have actually signed up for and do use frequently, some are for the parents/care givers and some are for the children fancy that? and some are for both! First up I will discuss the systems and then include notes on how to intergrate them into your computer, smart phone or other system as available.

The name is not quite explanatory, but a basic run down is that Flylady exists to help people who suffer from CHAOS (Can't Have Anyone Syndrome). The system starts with what is called baby steps and day by day you implement a new routine into your life over a whole month which works on setting your life onto auto pilot so keeping your house clean is easier. It can be quite involved but once you are up to scratch on the terms it is really helpful in making your life easier and more streamlined. The benefit of this is that you can work with this system without your computer once you get started and set things up. But they also utilise other apps and computer tools to keep you inspired. There is a lot I could write up about Flylady but the best idea is to try it out. I discovered this when I was pregnant with my eldest, I don't do everything perfectly however it has made such a difference to being a Mother, a wife, how I feel about my home and keeping things less chaotic. It is worth a try if you struggle in this area.

What is fantastic about the Flylady they have generously worked with two other organisational systems which can help make your life easier and they use technology to do this:

Cozi (Facebook, Web Page, Apps for iPhone, Blackberry and Android N.B Not available in the Australia as far as I am aware)
This is a online organisational website that uses technology well. They have apps for most smart phone's and tablets they also sync in with Google with your current calendars as well as with Outlook and you can download a widgit so that you can view your calendar via Google on your desktop. Without creating a separate calendar (which still can be useful) like Google you can set up schedules for each member of the family, there are facilities to add school, therapy and sport schedules into each member's personal calendar. You can set up routines for each person or for the whole family. Nifty little features the apps have are the ability to send a family member a shopping list before they come home from work. Small note: If your calendar is imported from another source you can't edit the event (eg. Google).

Home Routines (Facebook, Web Page, Itunes (HomeRoutines)
This app has been designed as a stand alone app, however since it's creation different organisational type groups have adopted it and now use it for their systems, Flylady is one of these groups please check out their how to guide to help you to get your app on your device in sync with Flylady. Home Routines has now advanced their setup and you can edit your routines online which then sync to any other devices that your family may be using, which is ultra handy and much more user friendly. The App has a simple screen layout with the Routines, Accomplishments (tasks you have completed), Focus Zones (this is inline with Flylady) and To Do Lists for tasks outside of the routine. The Routines can be set to certain days, every day of the week and other settings. This developer Wunderbear is operated from NZ which is great for us Aussies and NZ readers.

One for the Kids

ChorePad (Facebook, Web Page)
This app is great for kids, it has a great layout and uses pictures words and great graphics to encourage your children to complete what they need to do. There are basic rewards you can set up for completing tasks. Each task has a value that you set, once completed these tally up until your child wishes to trade in for a reward which is up to you what they reward is. This app I believe is suited to Primary Aged children (6+up) but children younger would be able to use it because of the pictures and clear text.

These are the majority of apps and systems that you might come across, please drop me a line if you would like me to explain anything further for example setting up anything, I am a bit of a techy nerd sometimes so I might just be able to help you.

The reason why I have written these last posts, is I realise that the majority of us as parents/caregivers/partners and family members lead busy lives then add the complexities of any special needs that we may have. The worst feeling is feeling that we are drowning under the load of therapy, appointments and to do lists as long as your arm and then the house work still needs to be done, dinner cooked and the list goes on.

Take the time to simplify your life however that appears to you and whatever works for you and do it. I found using Flylady, Google, Cozi, Home Routines and Chorepad it has made my life easier. Knowing that I can enter appointments my hubby his work schedule and then my son's therapy and we can all access it on our phones or the computers, means that things will get done I won't forget things as much (with two reminders) and we all know were we stand. So do something for yourself, get rid of the excuses and the thoughts that are telling you this is too hard and do it.

Making things simpler

So this week I had an experience online on facebook on one of the communities were we were discussing organisation, home routines and how we all cope with the pressures that we face. During the discussion it was revealed how hard it is for us all to cope and how much we need to take a handle on our lives to make things easier, less stressful and much easier to run. One of my weird passions is organisation, not in the sense that I have my house clean or that everything is run perfectly. But in the sense of my life I try to keep things under control by using the tools that we have online and using our technology such as our phones and iPad

Being a technology nerd I thought I would share some of the systems that are online, how we can use them, how I use them and how you can simplify your life! So this will be an introduction and some short tips on how to use them and what you need to do.


Google is not just a search engine, there is a calendar function within Google that can be useful to just about everyone. You can schedule events such as therapy or a birthday. As well as write up to do lists. The good thing about google it can also be used on your phone. Once you sign up for an email account you have access to a calendar. Any member of the family can have a calendar either as a separate email or within the one. So as an example in my setup I have a few things:

My personal Calendar (email based)
My husbands (email based)
My son's (email based)
Bills within mine.

The reason for separate emails is that it makes it simple to add events into the iphone or another device. For example on the iPhone I can from when I am out add an event to my son's calendar and invite myself or my husband. I know it all sounds a bit crazy doesn't it!!! The advantage of sitting in with the therapist and adding the appointment right there and then means that I don't have to do it when I get home, hence it has less chance of being forgotten.

To use Google you need to do the following things:
I have linked to the help pages in Google to get you started
  1. Sign up, if you don't have a gmail account already
  2. Open up your calendar, usually by clicking on the calendar link at the topic of the page.
  3. Get Started, pick the colour of your calendar add new calendars
  4. Enter events on the calendar
  5. Sync your calendar with other software and devices such as outlook and your iPhone or other phone. This process can be quite confusing :)
  6. Next share your calendar between calendars and learn how to invite others such as family, therapists to future events.
This takes a little getting used to and some frustrating moments but once you get things set up it does actually make a real difference. You can make it as simple or as difficult as you like it is up to you. If you have any questions at all, please write me an email and I will try and put you on the right track.

Next post I will look at a few tools online and using technology that interact with Google or are stand alone such as the iPad and iPhone apps.