1 Family, 4 Views and a Dose of Autism- How to Have a Better Day with Your Kids

AutismBlogFaithFamilyProductivity | January 12 2013

Can you imagine what it would be like if you took an adult friend out for the day to run errands and not tell them where they are going, how long it will take and when they will get to do what they would like? That’s exactly what I realized was happening with our kids.

It was a typical day where we had a full day for the family to be together. It’s The feeling that the world was our oyster and we could do whatever we wanted for the day. However, we needed a plan…

Being a family where both my wife and I are self employed it gets absolutely full when we live out our weekly lives. We are raising two great kids 7 and 9 and we work from home. Each day is optimized to extract the most we can. This didn’t come easy and didn’t come quick. It took years of refinement. We had to formulate the following to succeed:

  • A plan
  • Clear communication
  • Expectations
  • Rewards

A Plan: Whether it’s a day off or a the kids are out of school we’ve noticed a huge change when we have a plan for the day. Structure helps everyone. The plan might be errands, lunch, playtime at the park, bike rides, trampoline, chores, free time on devices/games.

Clear Communication: Communicating the plan to everyone in the family young and old is vital. I get so tunnel visioned with my agenda to run the ship that I forget to communicate what I’ve got on my radar. If everyone states their needs it prevents fallout and wasted time. So, I make it a clear point to explain which errands, how long it’s going to take, where they are going to go, when we will be home and when they get to have free time. It’s huge for them to be a part of the plan and know. Also as parents I think it’s really unfair to bring them in tow for a day when they have no clue what’s going on. As an adult I’d be pretty frustrated if I didn’t know what to expect but was taken around for the day. Put yourself in your kids shoes.

Expectations: When we talk to the kids we lay the expectations for the day. Playing on the iPad or devices is great “if” your room is clean, homework done. In addition, we started active/exercise such as bike rides and time on the trampoline before video games. Equal active time to gameplay time. Now our kids know when they ask that we will ask about the room etc. It’s helping them govern and manage their own discipline. It’s up to them. When planning the day the first thing they will ask if for free time. How much and how soon?

Rewards: As adults we get our errands and responsibilities done so we can finally do what we enjoy whether reading or whatever. I’ve noticed the same for the kids. That said, it makes homework, errands and responsibilities funner knowing there’s a reward. It’s healthy and life doesn’t have to be so “hard”.

I will add that “structure” and knowing and communicating the plan is huge for Little Noah and autism in our home. Structure is paramount for the family to function and be at peace. The kids know what to expect and us as parents too.

Our life used to be full of meltdowns and lots of crying with Noah. His sister was frustrated. We didn’t have answers. This formula above made things start to focus and become routine. Meltdowns are almost a thing of the past as we implement the above.

Give it a try. I’d love to hear how things go and hope that these ideas, although nothing new, can enrich each day for your family.

If you approach each day with a plan, communicate the plan, talk expectations and the rewards, that’s a day I’d like to be a part of!!

What are some of the techniques you’ve used to help your daily routine with the family and kids? How has the challenges of autism changed your approach? Lets me know by commenting below and please share this with others! Thanks