Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Why We Chose To Medicate Our Son

When your child has ADHD, there are many forms of treatment or remedies that you can do to get them to calm down and focus.

I have friends who have their kids on a special diet, other friends who use essential oils, and others who chose to try everything else to combat the symptoms of ADHD.

 In my son's case, we chose to medicate him, first.

Right now, I'm hearing the nay sayers in my mind saying things like, "You're a terrible parent." "How dare you medicate your son" "His body, his choice" "You're lazy and didn't want to try anything else" "Your son deserves the chance to be who he is without you changing him" and so on and so forth.

I've been on mommy boards and I've seen the ways that mothers tear each other down. However, there are always different sides in every situation and you shouldn't judge until you've been in another's shoes.

In my son's case, I believe it would have been a disservice to him and negligent on my part not to medicate him. Here's why: You can't correct a behavior that's been learned over a long period of time without some changes first.

By the time our son was diagnosed, we weren't surprised. We had already had him on a behavior plan for school, but by the second grade, things were getting out of hand. 

My daughter had just started Kindergarten and we had just had school curriculum night where I learned that the goals the school had in mind for her for reading was what my son was doing at that moment. 

I was so confused. I said, "You want her to know how to read all of these books by the end of the school year?" My son wasn't even doing that in second grade. 

So when we went to his meeting afterwards, I asked his teacher about it and she told me exactly what was expected of him. I was dumbfounded. "Why has no one told me that he's not doing what he's supposed to be doing?"

She had shrugged and told me that many of her students were behind where they were supposed to be, but they should know more than what they did. 

A short time after that, I had been picking my son up from school during the middle of the day because he kept having meltdowns and disrupting school. One day, I had enough of it and demanded a meeting with his social worker and whoever else he worked with. 

After the rather unsuccessful meeting, I asked the social worker, who seemed to be the only person who wanted to help, if he thought my son had ADHD, and he told me that he thought there was a great possibility and helped us get an assessment started right away. 

Related Post- Why Our Son's ADHD Diagnosis Didn't Surprise Us

After we had him assessed, it was determined that he did indeed have ADHD. The question of medication was raised and we had our doubts about it. After all, all I had ever heard about medicating kids with it was that it turned them into lifeless zombies. 

We ended up having another meeting with the social worker, my son's teacher, and the school nurse. One of them had ADHD, themselves, and the other two had very close relatives who had the same thing.

The person who had ADHD themselves said that they wished that this medication was available when they grew up. It's made differently now.  The parent of the child with ADHD said that their son's transformation was amazing and the other person said that their niece had admitted to being thankful for taking the medication because she was able to focus on a task at hand and was even more creative than before because she was able to finish her art work instead of being sporadic.

So, my husband and I listened to what each person had to offer for advice, asked them questions, and researched. In the end, we decided to give the medication a shot and it has been the best decision that we had made.

Why We Didn't Use Other Methods

Choosing to medicate our son wasn't an easy decision. We knew something needed to be done and before he was diagnosed, I had actually already tried a few different things to see if they helped.

Vitamins- There are many vitamins that have been made for the sole purpose of focusing... In fact, one of them is called "Focus". We tried several different kinds to see if they would work. Unfortunately, according to my son, the vitamins all tasted like garbage.

Essential Oils- I ordered some essential oils that were for kids with attention issues. I have a couple of friends who use these oils for their kids and they were very successful, but for my son, they were not. I tried roll ons, sprays, and even diffusers, but the smell of them bothered him. I diluted them and even tried to sneak the oils on him some how, but he always knew and would try to rub his skin off or change the clothes I'd spray them on. I don't really blame him because many of the oils have a woodsy/mothball scent and when I tried them out on myself, I didn't like them either.

Diet Change- This was going to be a very difficult one to do. When he was a baby, he ate everything that I gave him, but once he started school, he became a very picky eater. He didn't want to eat anything that was good for him unless it was snuck into food in a very creative way. I did this for a while, but unless he was willing, he'd put up a fight and eventually our house was more hostile than homelike. 

Exercise- My child is never short on it. He's a very imaginative, rough and tumble boy. We walk to school and back every day and he moves around plenty at home. Exercise has been huge in treating ADHD, but unfortunately, schools have lowered the time for recess. I feel like as a kid, we played for such a long time, but now, kids are lucky if they even get 20 minutes of recess. If it's a rainy day, recess becomes indoor and I learned that my kids are supposed to have tablet time for indoor recess. Once I found that out, I spoke with my son's caseworker and  together we won that fight and now the kids get to walk around and fidget during that time, but it's still not the same as when we were kids.

School officials have lost focus on many of the important aspects that come with educating our students and have focused more on the numbers because it brings them more money. As parents, it's our job to advocate for our kids, so when you see something that you don't agree with, please find a way to stand up for your child.

So We Decided That Medication Would be Worth a Try

We went and saw my son's doctor. She was very impressed by the research that we had already done and helped us find a good dosage and treatment for our son.

After many tries, we found one that worked with a method that worked. With just a few side affects, (dry mouth and loss of appetite- both that he got over) my son has finally learned to read, write, and has caught up with his class. He learned two years of schooling in one year and the symptoms that we feared, never happened. 

My son didn't become a zombie, instead, he was the same boy that he always has been, except now, he listens better and he's able to have conversations without going off onto tangents. With his medication, he'll sit down and draw or write a story instead of bouncing off the walls or constantly trying to wrestle with his siblings. Instead of getting into trouble, he'll create a play that he and his siblings will act out. 

We always knew that he was smart, but now his work and grades show that, too. It no longer takes us two hours to do his homework and I rarely have to ask him to do it because he hops right to it when he gets home.

Now that he listens and behaves better, we might be able to try the other methods as ways to get him to focus, because now he eats what is given to him and he does as he's asked. The bad behaviors that he picked up when he wasn't able to focus have been done away with, so perhaps he'll try those vitamins or try those oils. He most certainly eats better than he used to. 

The medication has never hindered him in any way. In fact, it brought out the best in him. It's made us so proud to see the charts where his academic progress was once below the below average line and has now skyrocketed to the average and above average line on his reports. It would be like your child having all Ds in school and then within a year's time them going from a D student to a B student. How awesome is that?!?!?!?


I'm not going to tell you how to parent your child. I'm not a doctor and I won't give you any medical advice. Ultimately, the choice of how to raise your child is up to you, but I will say, don't knock medicating your child because of how medicine used to be. 

We almost decided against it because of the horror stories that I used to hear about kids with ADHD. Unfortunately, having ADHD has had a negative connotation about it and it shouldn't be so. I think it's because it's still a newer concept and when it was being treated before, years ago, doctors and drug companies were still figuring out the ups and downs to every medication being made. Just like how we know that some medications and foods are bad for pregnancies, doctors have now found new ways to make medication so that it targets what it needs to in the brain and leaves the rest of it alone. Now we don't have kids hyped up or drugged out on Ritalin. Things have changed and for my son, it has definitely changed for the better.

So do your research. Find out what works best for your child, and if it doesn't work out, try something different. 

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Loving Mom's Self Care Guide

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One thing that many of us talk about when we become parents is our kids. I'm absolutely guilty, after all, Figuring It Out 101 is a mom blog.

Our kids consume our whole lives and parenting has developed more rules because someone said that kids can't go outside without a parent or Child Protective Services would be called. Let's not forget that mom shaming is everywhere.

When I was pregnant with my firstborn, I remember going online and researching everything. There were things that I could and couldn't eat. I gave up deli meats, cookie dough, and caffeine. My mom and other moms who had already been through all that were baffled. I'm sure they all felt like I was accusing them of pregnancy blunders because they still ate hot dogs, still drank coffee or soda, and some moms even smoked during their pregnancy. There weren't very many rules back in the day. However, if I adhered to the advice that I was given by moms who had already gone through the war, I'd get to hear about the neglect from the newly expecting moms online or at work.

Pregnancy and parenting is a no-win situation. You just have to do what feels right to you.

Once the baby is born, there are also parenting battles that you have to win and sacrifices that need to be made.

I was so lucky that I have the mom that I have. There were opportunities that she missed because she chose to take care of me instead of ignore me.

Instead of getting manicures every two weeks or sooner, she had cracked and calloused hands from working in a factory. Despite the fact that her back hurt from her heavy lifting everyday, she played and wrestled with us. Even though she must have been tired and exhausted, she still drove us around and let us have sleepovers with our friends and she always lent us a listening ear when we needed someone to encourage us through our relationships even though she had less of a social life because she had teenagers when her friends were just beginning their families.

My mom sacrificed a lot for us only for us to grow up, get married, have kids of our own, and go where the jobs went.

This could be the end of her story, but it isn't.

When I went to college, my mom decided to go to school for her Medical Assistance license. Unfortunately she didn't pursue that career because her factory job provided more than the MA job did after her years of experience put into the job.

Luckily for her, she got an amazing opportunity provided by her job where they chose special candidates to train for the nice, comfy, office jobs. Now she has an office and a title to go with it. She worked her tail off to get there.

Now, my mom is able to get her nails done when she wants to and she's able to have time to go shopping for herself. She's able to do the things that she should have been able to do when she was raising us.

As a mom, I see now how exhausted and worn out she must have been. She has spent years taking care of us and not herself.

I went shopping a few days ago thanks to the gift cards I was given for Christmas. My choice was Dress Barn because my mom recommended it and also because it was my more specific gift card. It was so nice and relaxing being able to walk through the clothes racks not caring too much about the cost of things and then getting to try things on. After being there for a while, I chose to get three shirts and two pairs of jeans.

I got to the counter and the sales associate asked me if I wanted open up a Dress Barn credit card for an extra percentage off. I asked her if I could pay it off with my gift cards to which she answered yes. So she rang everything up, my eyes were getting large as I saw the price climb and I started to panic a little. I rarely spend that much on just myself, but I can easily spend that much on my children and do it multiple times a year for multiple kids.

Long story, short, the lady put it all on my new card and when I went to pay for it in the store with my gift cards, she told me that I couldn't do that. I ended up returning everything and had her ring it up again so I could. The lady grumbled at me and I shrank up like a turtle and apologized, but you know what, I don't ever get to take care of myself like that.  With my mother-in-law standing next to me, I got the courage to tell her that.

Moms- We Need to Take Better Care of Ourselves!

I feel like I've spent many of my adult years tiptoeing around people trying not to offend them. I've made myself little so I could take care of my kids and keep them and everyone else happy. 

You know what!?!?! We don't have to lose ourselves when we do this. It's entirely possible to keep everyone happy as well as ourselves. In fact, we'll thrive when we get the chance. 

Here are some tips on how to do this:

  • Get New Clothes- We always make sure that our kids get to have new clothes that look great, why can't we? When you go to the store and use your debit card, the screen always ask if you want cash back. Say yes! You don't have to do it every time you go, but if you set aside $10-$20 every other trip and put it somewhere safe, you'll have enough to do something for you without feeling guilty because it's money that was saved. You also don't have to buy your clothes brand new. There are many resale shops that have nice clothes and most of them are like new and are much cheaper if you buy them there instead of in the department store. 
  • Take Baths- Unfortunately, this isn't something that everyone can do, but if you can, do it. If you can't, make time for showers. Have someone watch the kids for a little bit of time so you can sing in the shower or just soak and relax in nice, warm water. 
My not so subtle Christmas gift idea that I never get each year because it's too big for our bathroom. 

  • Bath Bombs or some other sort of relaxing aroma- Although making your own bath bomb can start off pricey, it could end up cheaper in the long run because you can make them in bulk. If making your own isn't your thing, you can find some cheap on the internet or you can buy some in the store. This Pinterest Bath Bomb is close to the kind that I make. If you make your own, don't be surprised if they look like this the first time.
  • Do Your Nails- You don't have to go to a salon to get them done, but having well groomed nails can help you feel put together. I like to use the Jamberry nail stickers. They stay on for at least a week, more if I'm not super active and it looks like I had them done professionally. 
  • Get Your Hair Done- I had my hair done professionally by a friend and did my own nails with Jamberry in the picture above. I felt super great when I took this picture of myself. I had no grays and my fresh haircut made my hair soft and smooth. If you don't have time to get your hair done, I have been guilty of cutting my own and using boxed hair dye- don't tell my hair dresser friends.
  • Take a Nap- If you can fit a nap in somewhere, do it! When our kids wake up in the middle of the night or early in the morning, my kids tend to come straight to me. If I can take a nap, I should. It (most times) leaves me feeling refreshed, although, some times I wake up crankier. Make a judgment call. 
  • Make Time for Friends- I'm a stay-at-home mom, now. I don't get to see people at work or have a social life during the day. The only people I talk with are my kids, which is great and all, but I can't vent or girl talk to them without ruining their little minds... Somethings are better left said to an adult because it's more appropriate. If I vent only to my husband, eventually it comes out as nagging. So find some time with friends to have a little fun.
  • Date Night- If you're living with your spouse or significant other, make sure to schedule a date night. It's good to remind each other that you still got it going on and you're more than just roommates and not like brother and sister. Just be careful, because if you think you're done having babies, you may have another on the way. J/k J/k- "Gosh, I thought this was a family blog?"
  • Read a Book, Watch a Movie- Do something that relaxes you. I love to read, but I find myself most nights binge watching something on Netflix or Amazon Prime because I'm just too exhausted to make the effort to read.  Speaking of:
  • Take Up a Hobby- One thing that I like to do is crochet, but I have to be in the mood. Some moms like to sew, others do amazing crafts, some just like to go to craft fairs or shop. Find something you like to do whether it be crafts, gardening, or a sport, just do it. 

  • Exercise- This one is a tough one for me. I already feel tired most of time and more now that it's winter, but when I exercise, I do feel better.
  • Sing!- Singing can help reduce stress. So can listening to music. Pop in an old cd or if you're not quite as old as I am (is 31 actually old?) put on your favorite song on your Ipod or whatever you young whippersnappers use and enjoy!


There are many more things that you can do to take care of yourself and it's up to you to ultimately know what you want or need. Just remember to take care of yourself.

Someday your kids are going to grow up and you can take care of yourself more like my mom did, but there isn't any need to wait.

Your kids are going to appreciate a happy mom and will be happier in the long run, too. 

Don't feel guilty for doing it. I tend to feel guilty for buying myself something or for leaving my kids with my husband for a while so I can get out. Don't! 

You always take such good care of everyone else, take good care of yourself, too.

What are some ways that you take care of yourself?

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Why Our Son's ADHD Diagnosis Didn't Surprise Us

My beautiful baby boy was born just like any other baby. He was healthy and just the most beautiful baby you'd ever seen with a full head of hair like Elvis. He behaved like any other child and my husband and I were doing our best to raise him to be an awesome little individual.

When he was almost three years old, I went back to work full time. Before then, I had been working part time, but between that job and my husband's full time job, we weren't making enough for us to buy groceries without some kind of assistance, so I wanted to get a full time job to help out.

That meant that my son and daughter would have to go to day care for the day. We chose one close to where we worked so they would only be there eight hours a day versus the ten they would be in if we had them somewhere close to home.

Things Began to Change

When my son turned three, he was kicked out of day care because he was still biting and at three, they expected all kids to stop at that moment. We were baffled that they expected him to change overnight, but we had him evaluated for preschool and my gracious grandma who had just retired said she would watch him for us and get him to and from preschool every day.

Guys- not all grandmas are the best, but mine really is. I don't know why she never went into teaching because she's always been good with us and my children. However, I suppose it's different when the children belong to you.  My grandma always encouraged my son to use his imagination. We'd come and pick him up and they'd be strapping on their "scuba gear" ready to do a deep sea dive in the kitchen or unrolling a treasure map and counting their paces to reach the buried treasure. She really kept his mind fueled all day with imagination and learning.

My son is so smart and we got compliments about his vocabulary, but we started to notice differences between him and other kids.

As a parent who went to church, I was wrangled into watching the preschool aged children. Most of the kids were just the sweetest and then there were the terrors and my son was right in the middle. He misbehaved the worst with me, probably because I'm mom, but when it was someone else's week to watch the kids, it was always my child that created the drama. He didn't want to sit still during story time or work on crafts with the other kids and when he didn't get his way, he'd bite or hit- things that he didn't do at home.

We'd tell the worker that we were sorry and that we'd work on his social skills with the other kids and we would, but it was always the same each week.

He began having problems in preschool. He didn't know how to judge personal space. He had no concept of it at all and kept getting in trouble with the other kids because he would be in their space and he also spoke loudly.

We Took Action

It really became an issue and we ended up having to have an in home meeting with his preschool teacher, one that we didn't want to schedule, but she had insisted. She watched my son interact with his sister and with us.

After the meeting, she suggested that we start him with speech and occupational therapy. While he was incredibly smart and had an amazing vocabulary, there were social cues that he was ignoring and most of it, she said, could be linked back to not being able to completely communicate his meanings because there were some speech barriers that we thought were age appropriate holding him back.

So, we agreed to get him into speech and occupational therapy, which they did at school. Things began to improve.


Then we moved and then had another baby. Things that we thought were going well like him using the potty and his acknowledgement of personal space went right out the window.

My son had met another classmate, we'll call him Klaus, and meltdowns started to ensue and things were crazy. We learned that Klaus had a ton of social behavior issues. He was a bully. If Klaus wanted a toy and didn't get it, he'd hit my son. If Klaus was told not to do something, he'd start to throw chairs.

Unfortunately for us, my son picked up some of those behaviors and my husband and I had to learn a whole different way to approach parenting because things weren't going well the way they had before.

We were glad when my son began Kindergarten and Klaus and he were in different schools. Unfortunately, some of those behaviors that he had picked up the year before transferred over to the new school and it was so frustrating because my son didn't behave the same way at home as he did in school. It's not easy to correct a behavior when the behavior isn't always displayed.

By the grace of God, I got a phone call, one day from the social worker at the school. My son had been suspended on his very first day of Kindergarten because he stuck his tongue out at the principal in front of the other kids during lunch and there was the possibility of another one for him for disrupting the lunch room again and once again, embarrassing the principal. I was already angry, frustrated, and feeling a plethora of emotions, so the phone call wasn't welcomed and I know I was snarky, but the social worker was calm and understanding, the whole time.

Putting Together a Behavior Plan

For the first time, I felt like there was someone who was on my son's side. This social worker wanted to create a behavior plan and put it on file, so if some of my son's naughty behaviors emerged, he wouldn't be suspended or in as much trouble because different protocols would be in place.

If you don't know what a behavior plan is, it is a plan that is put together to help your child behave better. If something were to set him off, then the teacher or staff member who was with him at the time would follow the steps put in place for an easy transition. They were also protocols that needed to be followed before getting him in trouble or suspended.

For my son, this entailed seating him somewhere where there wasn't a window or a door to look through. It also meant that instead of calling him out for something, there would be visual cues.

Ex: When he was speaking loudly, the teacher would hold up two fingers so he knew to lower his voice. Another is when he's doing something he shouldn't, he'd have a stop sign taped to his desk and the teacher would discreetly walk over and point to it. His behavior wouldn't be brought forth to the whole class and he could easily correct it without being embarrassed for being called out.

When it was time to switch from one activity to another, he would get a five minute warning, then two, and then time's up.

If he were to begin to feel anxious or argumentative, he was also allowed to leave the classroom to visit the social worker or put himself in a timeout somewhere that was designated for that reason.

Things Got Better, Again

Things got so much better and when it came time for Kindergarten graduation, cheers from the staff members rang out when they called his name. It was very emotional.

After the graduation, the social worker wanted a picture with my son. He was getting married and was moving away and wanted something to remember him by.  He told me that of all of the students he's ever worked with, my son was his favorite. He also said that normally, the staff wouldn't all show up, but they wanted to cheer for my son when it was his turn.

It was a very emotional day. We were stopped by the janitorial staff who told us that my son is the sweetest boy they'd ever met who helps them when he sees paper on the floor and lets them know if someone makes a mess. On our short walk home, a lunch lady who was retiring, pulled over her truck and started crying. She told us that my son was her favorite part of her mornings because he would sit with her and tell her stories. She said she would miss him.

It was amazing to see the transformation; to know that others were seeing my sweet baby for who he is and not for what he had done.

First grade went well and it was almost smooth sailing until he entered the second grade.


It was like a light switch had flipped at school and at home. It was becoming harder and harder to get my son to listen. He'd get in trouble at school, and then even more trouble at home. 

We had been giving my son time outs when he was in trouble. It usually worked when we would set a timer that he'd get to see, but those time outs wouldn't work. It was a very difficult time. 

I had tried to send him to his room when he'd get into trouble, but he'd scream that he had to go to the bathroom and then one time, he looked at me through his door (our bedroom doors all have windows covered by curtains) and wet himself... on purpose... I cried.

The homework that he had would take him up to two hours to do each night, mostly because he didn't want to start it or work on it. 

I made a time out chart and hung it up on the wall. That began to work better because I included his brother in sister on it and put an x next to their names every time one of them had a time out and he soon realized that those xs would show whenever grandma came over for dinner. 

I tried to enforce a positivity chart where after they did so many good, positive things, I would reward them with a piece of candy or something else that they liked at the time. Movie rentals on the weekend were a huge hit.

Getting the Diagnosis

As things got better at home, they were sill getting worse at school. My son was getting sent home almost every other day for disruptive and dangerous behavior. The last time it happened, I was fed up.

I had gotten my son to behave better at home, why wasn't the school able to do it, too? I marched into that office and demanded a meeting. With only 15 minutes of the school day left, the awesome librarian that my daughter thought was a fairy princess was kind enough to take all three of my kids to the library to hang out while I hashed things out.

The principal was just like Professor Umbridge in Harry Potter. Sickly sweet and passive aggressive with nothing worth while to pitch in. When she left the meeting, I looked right at the newer social worker and asked, "Do you think it's possible that my son has ADHD?" and he basically said, "yeah".

Right away, he got things put in order for us. He gave me the name and number of a doctor who specialized in ADHD, convened a panel with the school psychologist, school nurse, first grade teacher, second grade teacher, the case worker from the year before and the case worker from that year, and together, we all filled out a questionaire and after the psychologist tallied it all up, the results, although staggering in some places, all agreed that he had ADHD with anxiety and aggressive behaviors. 


There are many different ways that we could have used to treat him, but we started off with medication.

Related- Why We Chose to Medicate Our Son

After a few trials and errors, we came up with a dosage that worked best for him.

In just a few short weeks, that loving, caring, creative boy came back.

I never knew how far behind he was in his academics until I saw that my daughter was expected to do the same things and more than what my son was doing at home. 

My son was having difficulties in school because he didn't know how to read like he should. I didn't know that. I thought he was just being difficult.

If you could see how much his learning has skyrocketed, you'd be floored.


Today, you wouldn't know that he has ADHD or that he was so far behind. He is reading where he should and he's amazing at math. He can add and subtract faster in his mind than I can. 

The frustrations and behavior issues that he had was because he couldn't comprehend what he was supposed to do. His mind was moving too fast to remember sight words or to remember how to do a certain problem. It caused him to become embarrassed and act out. Now he's not. 

Getting him to do his homework has never been easier. In fact, he sits down and does all of his homework for the whole week on Monday and then just does the corrections for the rest of the week. 

About the only thing he struggles with is social cues when he's off of his medicine. Since it's a time release and we only give it to him once a day, it's practically worn off by the time we get home. 

When we don't give it to him over the weekends or on break, he likes to go overboard on wrestling with his brother and sister and doesn't know when too much is too much, but that is something that he'll learn to do one day. 

Did the Diagnosis Surprise Us?

No! Absolutely not. There were warning signs the whole time he was growing up. In fact, his diagnosis was a relief because if he didn't get it, I would have believed that I was just a bad parent. If it weren't for my very well behaved daughter, I would have believed that all the bad was because I didn't know how to discipline my son. After all, I sometimes had temper tantrums when I got anxious. All of the bad behaviors my son had were similar to the ones that I had as a kid. 

Now I know that it wasn't my fault. Things are so much easier now. (Knock on wood)

Fortunately and unfortunately, ADHD is hereditary. If you know that you or someone in your family has ADHD, it's easier to get the diagnosis and to start early prevention whether it be medication or some other way like oils or healthy diet.

Unfortunately, more than one child can have it and one child may display it differently from another one. My youngest leans towards ADHD, too, but he's only four. We are on watch for him, since he can't be officially diagnosed until he's older because kids do change. 

It's just once you know about ADHD, you see ADHD everywhere. Try not to become too paranoid.

For more information, read this related post- Signs Your Child Might Have ADHD