This blog is my place to vent and share resources with other parents of children of trauma. I try to be open and honest about my feelings in order to help others know they are not alone. Therapeutic parenting of adopted teenagers with RAD and other severe mental illnesses and issues (plus "neurotypical" teens) , is not easy, and there are time when I say what I feel... at the moment. We're all human!

Friday, May 6, 2016

Help! It's Summer!

image from
What do you do with YOUR kids during the summer?

 Summer plans (and school holidays and after-school care). 

Some of the things we've done when our kids got too old for daycare and summer camps:
  • Week long theme camps at the local MUD.
  • Counselor in Training program at the local MUD or summer camp.
  • Volunteer work with programs that provide a lot of structure (animal shelter, local equine therapy places are always looking for sidewalkers, horse handlers and stall muckers - my kids love horses and outdoors) we found one program that often works with people needing to do court-ordered community service so there was a lot of supervision.
  • Summer Job (for those that could handle it).
    Freelance - Through my work, I was sometimes able to hire the kids to do things like data entry or research. They got paid as contractors by the company I was working for, or I "subcontracted" some of my tasks to them.
  • Intensive Outpatient (aka Partial Day Hospitalization)
  • Hire a Nanny - a friend of the family with kids with special needs who "gets it," Grandma, Someone you hire from or the like - Here's some Interview Questions for Caregivers/ Respite Providers
  • Vacation Bible Schools - (with a heads up to the administration) my kids are actually really good with younger kids.
  • Summer school  
  • Structured days. For example:
    9am -9:30am aerobics,
    9:30- 10:30am chores,
    10:30am - 11:30am Free time
    11:30-12 Help make lunch
    1pm -3pm Quiet activities (nap, study, reading, quiet play)
    3pm - 5pm Get ready and go to pool or park or craft store...
    5pm-8pm TV/Movie/ Electronics/ Quiet Time/ Dinner
    8-8:30pm Bedtime Routine (showers, stories)
    8:30/ 9pm (depending on age) Room Time (Quiet activities or sleep)
  • (Mostly) Free Activities. 108 Alternatives to being bored and Trapped in the House, Post about Summertime Fun
  • Homeschooling Workbooks (summer assignments, PACE workbooks, or just a grade level appropriate workbook that we found at the local teacher supply store) that they could do while I worked
  • Attachment Challenge 
  • Integrity Study or similar
  • Hang out at work with parent (obviously this only works if it's an option) - my kids had homeschooling workbooks and markers and stuff. We also had a lounge they could watch TV in if they got their work done. We'd go for walks on my lunch hour.
  • Run a Home Day Care - I had a friend that opened a home day care so she could be home for her own kids and make a little money by watching others. If the kids you watch are also special needs, the parents may be a little more tolerant of your child’s issues. I have to admit that her child had very mild behaviors so this wasn’t as big a deal for her.
  • Mother's Helper (with a friend who "gets it"). I know one parent who has her child be a mother's helper for a friend. The parent gives the friend the money to pay her child's salary (the child doesn't know). This way the child earns a little money and doesn't realize he/she is actually being supervised.
    My daughter wanted to be a preschool teacher when she graduated high school. I didn't believe this was a good option for her (for many, many reasons). I asked a friend who ran a home day care if my daughter could "volunteer" there. My friend got a pair of extra hands and my daughter got to experience working with multiple children. Unfortunately, I was not able to convince my friend that my daughter should never be left alone with the children and the children weren't properly supervised a few times (luckily nothing major happened, although there were some close calls). 


Friends and Family as Caregivers/ Nannys
I trained my mom (yes, I know how blessed we were) in how to handle my kids and she watched them after school for many years. It was very draining for her and she often had to say, “Wait until your parents get home,” rather than deal with our son (who could be aggressive and was the size of a full grown man).

We did the same thing with a neighbor who had special needs kids the same age as mine. Her kids were bio and didn’t have the trauma/ attachment issues that mine did (“just” extreme mental illness that included psychotic breaks), but my kids liked and respected her. My kids also have “Charming RAD,” so they didn’t want her to think badly of them and that helped a lot. 

Flexible Work Hours/ Stay at Home
I was lucky in that for a couple of years, I was able to adjust my hours at my job so that I could be home when my kids got home. Then I moved to working from home. We had an adoption subsidy that helped us afford this. 

Tag Team
I do know some parents that tag team. One parent works nights, the other days.
Hubby and I did this somewhat. On days when I had to go to a meeting, he would work from home (or go in late or come home early). It’s definitely hard on a marriage, but might be the only solution for some. 

I wish I had more ideas. Like most parents with tough kids, this was an area we struggled with a lot.

Additional Tips for Handling Professionals/ Caregivers Dealing with Your Child

For talking to professionals dealing with your child – this post on School has some resources for dealing with educators (check out the image and link to a fantastic presentation at the top of this post – it’s awesome). We've given out the equivalent of New School Year Letters to both summer and after-school caregivers. 

For finding a good care provider
Interview Questions for Caregivers and Respite Workers 

For dealing with people who just don’t “get it.” 
Dear Person Who Just Doesn't "Get It." 

Leave a comment with what you do with your kids!

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