A typical day in the Meadows household

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It’s now three years since we got our adoption order, and our post-adoption support is about to transfer from the placing authority to our local authority. We’ll be asking for another formal assessment of our family’s support needs and so I’m putting together some documents to show what support we want and why we need it. This ‘day in the life’ is one of those.

6.00ish The girls wake up. Our rule is that they play quietly in their rooms, but sometimes Charlotte will sensory seek elsewhere, eg decorate the bathroom with a tube of toothpaste, put suncream on the walls, or go downstairs (which is out of bounds at that time). As soon as I am the tiniest bit awake, my ears are on high alert for any sounds that might indicate Things They Should Not Be Doing.

7.30 The girls come to our room and we all go downstairs for breakfast. Often Charlotte will have a tantrum about something – one of us looking at her, someone sitting where she wants to sit, etc – and she can take a very long time to finish her (small) breakfast (often one slice of toast). This is about control – she doesn’t want us to take it away but she doesn’t want to eat it either. If there’s any arguing over a seat to be done, Joanna is likely to join in too.

8.00 The girls get dressed. Sometimes this is done quickly, other times they procrastinate and get grumpy when we ask how they’re getting on. There are often meltdowns when we tell them to stop playing and to get dressed, to brush their teeth, that they will need a jumper, that it’s time to put their shoes on.

8.25 We leave the house (often with a bit of transition-related stropping) and walk to school. Usually at least one of the children will be grumpy en route, because of the transition, because they have poked each other, because we’ve said no to something, because they’d rather go in the car, because they want the other parent to take them, etc. Sometimes this will involve violence – to each other or to us, especially to Pete.

8.40 We arrive at school five minutes before everyone else comes in and sometimes manage a proper handover with the staff. Sometimes Joanna’s one-to-one assistant isn’t there or is doing something else.

8.55 The parent doing the school run gets home, exhausted, and then starts a day’s work.

During the day Hannah checks Charlotte’s room for contraband: things she has found or ‘borrowed’ from elsewhere in the house, at school, or in the street. These have included stones, feathers, Joanna’s toys, toys from school, used plasters of indeterminate origin, medication she found on the train(!) and hundreds of tissues and pieces of toilet paper, often chewed into little wads and put under the bed, or torn into confetti and left around the room.

During the day on Thursdays Hannah spends two hours at school attending Joanna’s therapy session.

During the day school may phone and ask Hannah to go in and help Joanna calm down, or to collect Joanna after she has been angry, violent and/or upset.

During the day Hannah returns calls/emails about the girls when she is supposed to be working.

During the day Pete often has to take time off work to attend meetings about the girls.

3.15 One of us collects the girls from school. Often there will be a strop immediately, especially if we accidentally ask them how their day has been. Often there will be another strop on the way home if we don’t take their preferred route or play with their friends on the way (obviously they will both have different preferences that cannot both be met).

3.40 We get home. The instant the front door closes marks the entry into the Peak Strop Zone (from now until bedtime). The other parent sometimes accidentally triggers another strop by looking at Charlotte/asking a question about their day/saying something that has already been discussed on the way home ‘and I AM NOT SAYING IT AGAIN!’ The girls play bicker together/go on their tablets/watch TV. There will be at least one argument at some point, and one or both will end up stamping up the stairs and slamming their bedroom door, then shouting about how they hate everyone. This transition from school to home is the time when they are most likely to be violent. (This is what that violence is like.)

5.00 Dinnertime. This will rarely please both children, who don’t approve of the menu/don’t want to stop what they’re doing/hate salad. Charlotte may have a massive tantrum, especially if there are tomatoes or anything green on her plate. Something will be spilt/dropped on the floor/hidden in her clothes because she doesn’t want to eat it and will put it in the bin/toilet later.

5.40 We all play a game together, as suggested by Joanna’s therapist. If Joanna doesn’t win, she has a huge meltdown, stamps up the stairs, slams her door and shouts/screams about how everyone hates her. We patiently go through all the therapeutic techniques with her (that we have established with her therapist), or she shouts at us that she is NOT DOING THEM.

6.00 Bedtime. The girls procrastinate about getting changed, brushing teeth, etc. If we ask how they’re getting on, or why they’re not in their pyjamas twenty minutes after we asked them, or what they’re doing naked in the other one’s bedroom (etc), there’ll be another meltdown. A meltdown at this point in the day can last up to 90 minutes.

When the girls are asleep

  • Pete works, if he needs to make up time lost to meetings and/or meltdowns during the day.
  • Hannah works, if meetings/calls from school have caused a delay during the day.
  • We discuss emails that need answering and whatever forms we are currently completing (there’s usually at least one on the go).
  • We read and comment in Joanna’s home–school communications book.
  • We check Charlotte’s school bags for contraband.
  • We analyse the events of the day and consider what to do.
  • We have no social life.

10.00–11.00 We go to sleep. Often Hannah will be awake at 3.00/4.00/5.00 worrying about the latest incident with the girls and what to do next.

And repeat.

Do you relate to this? If it sounds familiar I’d love to hear from you. Please get in touch through the comments or on Twitter or Facebook. If you missed my recent post on our experience of child-to-parent violence (CPV) you can read it here.

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7 Comments

  1. Rachel J
    2 September 2016 / 6:50 am

    Oh Hannah – it’s relentless isn’t it. I don’t know if it’s any comfort to know that you’re not alone. You could be describing my typical day (without the therapy but very much with all the meltdowns and the bedroom full of random stolen cr*p). Hang in there, and remember what the very wise Sally Donovan says: this is elite patenting. We are in a different league and playing by different rules. And we’re a formidable team. The only meaningful support I’ve had has been from people like you who ‘get it’ – and we’re all here for you.
    Rachel (@A470training)

    • 2 September 2016 / 7:14 am

      Thanks, Rachel. 🙂 Yes, it does help to know others are going through the same stuff (though I wouldn’t wish it on anyone else). We are actually rather excellent, aren’t we? 😉

  2. Feelingmumyet
    2 September 2016 / 11:57 pm

    We parents are rather brilliant! 🙂
    We go through exactly the same day just with 2 boys! It does help to know we are not alone and some people get it! 🙂

  3. 3 September 2016 / 6:22 pm

    Wow, that sounds like a very tiring daily routine! Sorry that things are so hard x

  4. 26 January 2017 / 1:07 pm

    Pardon me for my 100th comment today (I’m binge-reading, don’t judge me!) I wish I could baby-sit for you. I’ve been there! We love to play the “Ungame” or any of the “co-operative” family games we buy on amazon.com. They different ones where players work together to accomplish one mission. I also LOVE Dr. Playwell’s “Game of Self Control” because it’s got physical challenges, silly weird things, and also hypothetical situation questions about handling feelings. That game is on Amazon but it’s about $50. I’m sure anyone and everyone gives you advice, to which you reply wearily, “yes, we’ve tried that.” Forgive me, I couldn’t resist. We love playing games at our house but the best ones are where we work together.

  5. Bri
    27 February 2017 / 1:46 pm

    This made me cry. Our ‘normal’ is so very different to most peoples isn’t it?

    • 27 February 2017 / 1:59 pm

      It is. Sometimes I feel so deeply immersed in this way of existing that I struggle to imagine what a ‘normal normal’ would be like for us. So thankful for people like you who help me feel we have a shared normal of our own. 🙂

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