parenting tips and strategies and tips to help

parenting a child with adhd

This article is part 1 of a 2-part article devoted to parenting and providing tips to help children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD):

I have not been shy about how hard it is to be a parent. My daughter wasn’t officially diagnosed with ADHD until she was 6. However, we suspected she had ADHD long before she was diagnosed. As a Speech-Language Pathologist, and more importantly, as a mother, I came up with some strategies to help my daughter:

tips to help children with adhd

Strategies to Help Children with ADHD

(1) Structure and routines are crucial

Most kids like routine, but stability is extra important for children with ADHD. If you subscribed to my blog, you have the daily routine I use with my daughter for homeschooling/remote learning. Involve your child in the implementation of their routine (within reason) so your child has some input. For example, I give my daughter options of what she gets to do when she takes a break.

(2) Establish clear boundaries and expectations in advance

Make sure these boundaries are reasonable. It is crucial to understand your child’s capabilities and set expectations accordingly to promote success. That means expecting your child to calmly walk throughout the grocery store while you to do a full grocery shopping is unreasonable. A more reasonable expectation (that is more likely to be successful) is making a list of a few essential items and playing a game to see who will spot the items first.

(3) Transitions are especially challenging for children with ADHD

Make sure to discuss transitions in advance, so your child is prepared for it. Give reminders of upcoming transitions as well. I try to give a ten minute and then five minute warning before transitions (like leaving the park, stop playing with a friend, leaving the house).

Pick Your Battles

(4) Give your child opportunities to make choices

Kids like to feel some sense of control. Power struggles are common, but if you give your child some options, you give them a sense of power while still having control of the situation. Try to provide options rather than ask an open-ended question. I provide my daughter with choices throughout the day such as offering carrots or strawberries for a snack, whether she wants to wear sneakers or sandals when we leave the house, picking two books out of five that she wants me to read to her, what stuffed animal she wants to sleep with, etc.

(5) Pick your battles

Children with ADHD struggle with impulse control and emotional regulation, so understand your child and be mindful of their struggles. Praise them for their accomplishments, and unless they are putting themselves or someone else in danger, try to ignore the small stuff. This promotes a calmer environment for you and your child. It’s a win-win!

(6) Choose quality over quantity

It is better to give your child ten minutes of interaction without distraction (checking your phone, answering an email, thinking about something else) than twenty minutes with numerous interruptions. I spend ten minutes a day with Brielle everyday doing “fun time”. During these ten minutes, she gets to pick any activity she wants to play with me (within reason, of course), and there are no phones, computers, or any other distractions. Kids need attention and they want to feel like they have some control.

This is especially true for children with ADHD because there is so much that isn’t within their control. This daily activity honors both of those components. My daughter knows this is something we do together each day, and it can never be taken away as a punishment.

(7) Be mindful of what you are feeding your child

I don’t give Brielle anything with Red-40, and I try to limit her sugar intake as much as possible. That’s not to say your child should never get a special treat. However, don’t give something with a ton of sugar and then be surprised when your child is bouncing off the walls. FYI- Brielle literally tried to bounce off the wall one time when she had a huge piece of cake- lesson learned!

(8) If possible, provide visual and auditory prompts when asking your child to do something

For example, when I am homeschooling my daughter I start off by pointing to my eyes and asking her to put on her “focusing eyes”, pointing to my ears and ask her to put on her “listening ears”, and pointing to my head and asking her to put on her “thinking cap”. I also read aloud instructions to her and underline or highlight key words. I then ask her to explain the instructions in her own words. We also have a saying that accompanies gestures, which is “Stop, Think, then Act”. Reminders are crucial with a child that has ADHD.

(9) Sleep

It’s important for every child to get adequate sleep, but especially a child with ADHD. I can tell when she didn’t get enough sleep the day before, as she’s even more hyper on those days. Establish a routine that provides ample time for sleep and naps, and stick to it as much as possible.

(10) Children with ADHD need breaks

Included in my homeschool/ remote learning routine are intervals and suggestions for breaks throughout the day. My daughter gets numerous breaks so she has the opportunity to “get her wiggles out”. If your child is at school, discuss with the teacher opportunities for brain breaks.  For example, letting your child get up and stretch or a being a helper that gives out something. When your kid gets home from school let your child play outside. Your child can just run or play active games such as Simon Says, tag, hopscotch or Red Light, Green Light. Make sure your child knows that asking for breaks is okay when doing homework. Set a timer for a specific amount of time for your child to recharge.

Reminder about parenting

I hope that these strategies and tips to help children with ADHD are helpful! Remember that parenting is challenging, and it is no easy task to parent a child with special needs. It will take time and patience to implement these strategies.  Just as it is important to be your child’s biggest advocate and supporter, don’t forget to do the same for yourself!

Mom Shaming

My last post was about my choice to only have one child, but that topic lends itself to a greater one. This post is about the choices women make, and the effects of mom shaming we receive as a result of those choices.

the competition and civil war between moms

Women receive enormous amounts of pressure to acquiesce to conventional society. Additionally, there is a civil war going on among women, particularly moms.

By a certain age, women are expected to get married. Women nowadays are getting married at later ages than previous generations, but the expectation is still there. If couples have been dating for awhile, they are asked when they are planning to get married. If you haven’t gotten married by a certain age, eyebrows raise.

Once you get married, then the real shaming begins. Questions come up about when there will be kids. When you have a child, you are then asked when you are having another one. If you only have one child, people will tell you that it is selfish to not have more. Have two kids that are the same sex? Expect to get asked when you are going to have a child of the opposite sex. If you have kids too close together, people will comment on it, just as they will if you have children with a big age gap.
Next, moms will then debate about who has it harder. Moms with many kids will comment about how hard it is to juggle more than one child.  Moms with one child will argue that they have it harder because their child doesn’t have a sibling to entertain them.

different types and effects of mom shaming

types of mom shaming

There is also tremendous pressure regarding how to feed your baby. Are you breastfeeding? After all, the American Pediatric Association says that it’s best for your child. If you choose to give formula, expect most pediatricians to tell you that “breast is best”. Even if you find a doctor who says that your baby is fine with formula, there are moms that will absolutely judge your choice. If you do breastfeed, how long did you do it? If it was under or over a year, expect questions.
Unfortunately, the pressure isn’t over yet. Are you a Stay-at-Home-Mom or a Working Mom?
Either way, you’re getting mom shamed.
Moms who stay at home are routinely told that they have it easier because they don’t work, and those who work are put on the defensive about why they choose to work rather than stay home and take care of their kids.
Are you the mom that shows up at carpool wearing makeup and a cute outfit along with your expensive car and your impeccable kids? If you’re one of those moms, get ready for some eye rolling. Are you the mom that drops off your kid with your hair a mess, your car looking like you slept in it, and your kids wearing mismatched clothes? If you’re one of those moms, get ready for some snickers. Do you spend your mornings working out and meeting friends for lunch? Alternatively, are you the mom who rushes to work as soon as you drop your kids off at school? Perhaps you are the mom barely getting by and living paycheck to paycheck and living in an apartment? Regardless of your answer, prepare to get judged and shamed.
Does your kid participate in numerous afterschool activities? Do your kids have a nanny? Get ready for moms to think that you are using money to have others take care of your kids. Does your kid not partake in after school activities? Get ready for moms to think that you are depriving your child.
Is the father in the picture? Did you marry before you had kids? Are you married? Single and divorced moms better prepare themselves to spill the beans on why the relationship didn’t work.

stop shaming mothers for their choices

Life is comprised of a series of choices, which cause most of us to have sleepless nights. We lie awake praying and hoping we are doing the right thing. The pressure and judgment we put on ourselves isn’t torturous enough. We also judge and get judged by society and other women. The sad and harsh truth is that shaming has become an epidemic.

When did our lives become a giant justification? Why is it okay for us to shame one another to feel better about ourselves? Why does society have the right to dictate our choices?
None of us know what is going on in other people’s lives. We see glimpses of what others choose to show us on social media and during social interactions. We have a hard enough time feeling good about our choices, yet we feel we have the right to impose our choices on others.
I am not perfect. I try my best, as I am sure you do too. All we can do is hope and pray that our choices are good enough based on the cards we were dealt.

effects of mom shaming and ending the shaming pandemic

ending the shaming pandemic

Therefore, I am waving the proverbial white flag. Women who aren’t married, women who are married, women who are divorced, women who work, women who stay at home, women with no children, women with one child, women with many children, women who breastfeed, women who give formula, women with limited money, women with loads of money, women with help, women with no help….we are all human beings with hopes and dreams and strengths and weaknesses

It is hard enough being a woman. Life is hard enough. Why can’t we raised each other up instead of tearing each other down? What if we showed empathy and kindness to ourselves and to one another? What if we called a truce and agreed that our lives may be different, but we all have struggles? Would it help you to sleep better at night if you got to live your life without outside pressure and the after effects of mom shaming? I know it would help me.

“Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be kind. Always.”- Brad Meltzer

6 strategies and tips for parenting a special needs child

parenting my special needs child

I am the parent of a special needs child. My daughter has Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD). My job as her mother is the greatest responsibility I will ever have. Although my job is to help my daughter to learn and grow, she helps me learn and grow as well.

The truth is, the image I had of parenting is not reality. The smiling faces on Facebook and Instagram capture mere moments of real-life. It is easy to look at others and think that you are the only one who struggles. That is simply not the truth.

Just as it was essential for my well-being to accept the hard truth about my childhood, awareness and acceptance are of paramount importance when raising a child. The road to acceptance was not an easy road for me. When I enrolled my daughter in a Montessori Pre-K, the teachers and director voiced a lot of concerns about my daughter’s inability to do things that other kids were doing. I believed that the large class size and lack of warmness were the cause of everything. When they suggested she had Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) I scoffed. I was her mother, and my daughter was FINE.

adhd and SPD

adhd and spd

When we put her into a smaller school, she adjusted well. Still, transitions were very hard for her; she would raise her hand and give answers that had nothing to do with the questions, and she often rolled around on the floor at school when asked to pick an activity at the learning stations. Brielle knew her numbers and letters, could write paragraphs, and was reading, but she couldn’t focus in large groups and was always losing her belongings.

She was well-behaved at school, but at home she constantly threw tantrums and had no ability to self-regulate her emotions. Despite being 4, I couldn’t take her to any stores because she literally touched everything, and she would not sit still and follow directions. She would squeeze the cats, fall up and down stairs, and sought out constant movement.

Nothing I tried seemed to calm her down.

Despite my background as a Speech-Language-Pathologist, I had blinders on when it came to my own child. I wanted desperately to believe that I could somehow make it better on my own. I thought if I tried harder or did more, I could somehow make the problems go away. There came a point when I had to admit that an assessment was needed. Her health and happiness were more important than my denial.

My daughter was diagnosed by an Occupational Therapist with SPD. Two years later she was diagnosed with ADHD, executive functioning issues, poor working memory, and auditory processing issues. I went from being in denial that there was anything wrong, to demanding an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) be made for my child. I learned some valuable lessons along the way, and my hope is that I can make the road of parenting a special needs child less bumpy for others:

strategies to help parent a special needs child

(1) As parents, we must look at hard truths

It is better to err on the side of caution and get your child assessed ASAP rather than hope it will all go away. If there is a problem, the earlier there is intervention, the better. If there is nothing wrong, then you have nothing to lose by getting your child tested.

(2)  Labels should be used to help your child, not to define your child

Brielle has learning issues, but the labels associated with those issues do not define her. Who she is as a person is what defines her. Brielle is loving, bright, sensitive, and funny.

advocate for your child during the iep process

(3)  You must be your child’s greatest advocate, ally and supporter

Involve yourself in every aspect of the assessment and intervention process. For example, I observed every Occupational Therapy session, and I implemented each tool at home.

At the beginning of last year I started homeschooling my daughter. She had a psycho-educational evaluation done over the summer that determined she had ADHD. Subsequently, I found out that I could request a meeting with the Student Support Team (SST) at the public school because we pay taxes to the county. I fought for Brielle to get a full evaluation so that if she were eligible, she could have an IEP. I brought a list of my present and future concerns and was adamant that she needed testing for executive functioning and auditory processing. When they determined she indeed had weaknesses in those areas, I researched IEP goals for those delays as well as accommodations that she needed.

I made sure they were all implemented into the IEP.

I planned to have Brielle virtually attend Georgia Connections Academy, but I insisted that she get less screen time and only go online when it would be small groups. She does not focus in large online groups. They were unwilling to cooperate, so I am continuing her education with Bridgeway . I want to put her in an environment that sets her up for success, so I will continue to be her teacher until we find a school that is a good fit for her.

Stand up for your child and make sure they get the proper support and intervention. Don’t be afraid to stand your ground. If you do not fight for your child, then who will? It is necessary that your child gets the proper support to thrive.

communicate with others

(4) Be open and honest with your child about their struggles and their needs

Having an open line of communication is necessary so there is no shame about it. Brielle understands that she difficulty starting and focusing on tasks because of her ADHD, and we have discussed strategies to help her. She knows that she can ask for a break if she needs to “let her wiggles out”. I have taught her various breathing exercises to help her “calm her mind”.

She will sometimes ask for a squeeze if she needs that pressure on her body (for sensory input), and she has a weighted blanket that she uses at night. When Brielle gets exasperated because she doesn’t understand something, I encourage her to try her best and I try explaining it to her in a different way. I also try to use as many visuals and manipulatives as possible to aid in her comprehension of tasks.

Brielle’s Kindergarten teachers thought she couldn’t grasp addition and subtraction number bonds; by the end of homeschool last year she was doing multiplication, division, and fractions. She may have different learning needs than others because of her ADHD and SPD, but that doesn’t mean she isn’t capable of learning. I won’t allow her to believe otherwise.

(5) Make sure to emphasize your child’s strengths

Brielle has a poor working memory, but her long term memory is amazing. She can recall in vivid detail incidences that took place years ago. Her hyperactivity has an upside as well. She never tires. Make sure your child knows that for every challenge there is also a strength.

(6) Parenting must vary based on the child, NOT the other way around

We must give our children what they need, not what we want them to need. Brielle has difficulty playing by herself and she is very accident- prone. I need to keep an eye on her because she is incredibly impulsive. She has difficulty playing independently because of her ADHD and SPD. I give her options of what she can do when she has “quiet time” (time where she plays by herself). She chooses what she’d like to do.

I encourage her to be her own friend and give her lots of positive reinforcement when she keeps herself occupied and plays independently. I believe in her fully, but I also needed to adjust my idea of how she should be. Brielle is Brielle, and I wouldn’t have her any other way.

awareness and acceptance 

awareness and acceptance

Awareness and acceptance– the key ingredients to parenting a special needs child. They have helped me to be the mother and person I am today. I am far from perfect, and that’s okay. I am aware of who I am, and I am aware of how special my daughter is. The sky is the limit. I am honored to be along for the ride.


my story of living with an addict

The serenity prayer is a crucial part of recovery meetings. It is of equal importance to those of us that are living with an addict. To watch a loved one destroy themselves and their life is one of the most heartbreaking things I have ever experienced. My husband, Matt, bravely shared his story about addiction on my blog. It is important to understand that addiction doesn’t just affect the life of an addict; it affects the ones who love the addict just as much.

My husband always liked to drink. I was never a big drinker, and I’m a lightweight. One drink for me, and I get tipsy. It was amazing to see how much my husband was capable of drinking at one time. I love to dance, and we would go to clubs when we were dating (ah, the memories of once being young). I knew Matt was part of a fraternity in college, so when my friends noticed how much he drank and inquired about it, I just chalked it up to him having a high tolerance for it. He got drunk on our wedding day, but so did most of the guests there. It was a celebration, after all.

My Loved One’s Addiction

Fast forward to us finding out I was pregnant. We were on cloud nine. I knew Matt was afraid of me having a miscarriage (we knew many couples who sadly went through that), but I reassured him that I was okay, and the baby was okay. I thought everything was fine until one day I saw him pouring alcohol into an iced tea bottle. Warning bells started going off in my head. I was three months pregnant and knew that behavior like that wasn’t okay. I told him that he needed to stop. He said he would stop, and then a few weeks later he got drunk again. He wandered to my father’s house, and my dad had to take him home. This time I put my foot down. I said if I ever caught him drinking again, he would have to leave. There was a child being brought into the world, and it wasn’t safe for a baby to be around that. I thought that was the end of the story.
Little did I know, it was just the beginning.
I have severe insomnia, and I take medication to help me sleep. There was only one prescription I could take that wouldn’t hurt the baby. All of a sudden, I noticed those pills were missing. I asked my husband about it. The first time I asked he said he accidentally dropped the pills in a sewer on the way home. Once he said the pharmacy must have not given me enough pills. My favorite lie was when we flew to New York; he told me that airport security must have taken them, and it is quite common for them to do so. I knew nothing about addiction besides what I had seen on TV, and we had a baby on the way. I wanted more than anything to believe that he was telling the truth. That’s the problem with living with and loving an addict; you never know when they are lying to you.

lies and deception are the hallmarks of addiction

lies and deception are the hallmarks of addiction

On August 3, 2012

we gave birth

to a beautiful baby girl. It should have been a magical time in our lives. It was anything but. Matt was always sleeping through Brielle’s cries, he was not hands-on with her, and I was taking care of our baby all on my own. By this point I had actually caught him with pills, and I knew that he had a problem. Here I was, a new mom with a little baby, and my husband was getting high. Each time he would say he would stop, but it always started up again.

This went on for more years than I care to admit.
When he stopped taking my pills, he started using others that he obtained on his own. I tried to reach out to loved ones for help, but nobody wanted to see him as an addict. Their denial made me feel helpless and completely alone. He was so convincing that sometimes I questioned if I was losing my mind, and the problem was me. I had no support and I prayed there was something I could do to make him see the light. I tried talking, I tired yelling, I tried crying, I tried pleading. Nothing I said or did made a difference, and I was the only one fighting for him to get well.
My husband had seen several therapists during this time, at my request, and he convinced each therapist that there was nothing wrong. I remember one time that some pills went missing, and Matt swore up, down, and sideways that he had nothing to do with it. I requested Matt’s permission to accompany him to his next session, and I was shocked that his therapist said that he believed him. My husband was a great manipulator (as most addicts are), and he was incredibly convincing. Years later, he admitted that of course he had taken those pills, and he lied to me and the therapist. He was able to fool almost everyone, but he couldn’t fool me.

Coping with his addiction through acceptance and ending codependency

acceptance and ending codependency

My daughter was getting older, and I didn’t want her exposed to this lifestyle of living in the house with an addict. I had two choices: (1)- I could accept that this was what he was going to do, and I had to find a way to live with that (2)- I couldn’t accept that and I had to walk away. As much as I loved my husband, I knew this wasn’t the kind of life I could accept for my child. I made an appointment with a marriage counselor who specialized in addiction. Since he wasn’t listening to me, and nobody else had backed me up, I hoped that a stranger could make him see that he needed help. I made it clear to her that I was prepared to leave him if speaking to her didn’t work.
That fateful day we met with this therapist, and for the first time, someone backed me up.
I felt a combination of relief and fear. Relief that I wasn’t crazy to believe that he had a problem, and terrified that it was actually the truth. The therapist did something only I had done. She listened to him tell his story, told him that he was full of baloney, and that I was prepared to leave him if he didn’t get help. I’ll never forget the look on Matt’s face. It was the first time that someone besides me had told him that he needed help. He had everyone else convinced that he was fine, including himself. Now he had two people holding up mirrors in front of his face, and there was nowhere for him to hide.

The Journey to recovery

the journey to recovery

My husband agreed to go to an outpatient center. He went three evenings a week for three hours each time for four months. Matt hadn’t been active at all in my daughter’s life because of his addiction, and now he was not physically there as well. My then three-year-old daughter kept asking me where her Daddy was. I told her that he was sick, and he was going somewhere to get better. 
There were nights that the outpatient program allowed family members to attend. I went to those meetings and took notes. There was so much about addiction that I didn’t know. I learned that the brain of an addict sends signals that their addiction is necessary for survival. Just as he needed food and water, his brain made him think he needed those pills. I had never understood why he wasn’t able to just stop.
I now understood that addiction was a disease, and one that couldn’t just be turned on and off.
My daughter and I were there the day he graduated from his outpatient program. She didn’t know any specifics, but I told her that her Daddy was trying really hard to get well. She and I both applauded for him as he got his completion certificate. My dad accompanied us there so he could take Brielle out of the room when Matt gave his speech. I couldn’t be prouder of his hard work and determination to stay sober.
I don’t know what it feels like to live with an addiction, but I have tried to educate myself about it as much as possible so that I could support Matt on his journey to stay sober.
The biggest lesson I learned was that you can’t force someone to get clean.
You also can’t force someone to stay clean. This is a choice that my husband makes every single day, and it’s a choice that I never take for granted.

Sobriety is a choice AND SO IS LIVING WITH AN ADDICT

I am so proud of my husband for accepting that he is an addict, but I am not responsible for his sobriety. It is incredibly difficult to not try to “help” someone stay clean. There have been times where time has lapsed between him attending meetings, and as much as I want to tell him to go to one, I know that it needs to come from him. An addict can’t stay sober because you want them to. They have to do that for themselves.
Loving and living with an addict means that sobriety is never a certainty. Matt knows that I am always here to listen and support him, but I can’t make him stay clean. Only he can do that. It is a scary road for a loved one of an addict. The harsh reality is that at any point the rug can be pulled out from under me. It is very terrifying and heartbreaking to not have control over that.
The biggest piece of advice I can give to someone who loves an addict is that as much as the addict loves you, he or she will always choose their addiction over you until they reach rock bottom.
That’s why living with an addict is so difficult. Addiction is a disease that messes with an addict’s mind. You can’t make choices for an addict, but you do have the power to make your own choice; you can choose to stay with that person as they are or you can choose to walk away. As much as you love that person, you can’t make them stop their addiction. Sometimes walking away will be the rock bottom necessary to get help. Sometimes it isn’t.
I can’t control the choices Matt makes, but I can control what I expose to my child and to myself. Take care of yourself and your children. Give love and encouragement to the person who is trying to stay sober, but don’t try to force sobriety. You will never win that battle.
Loving an addict is not easy, and we often don’t get recognition or support. “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” Just as there are support groups for addiction, there are support groups for loved ones of addicts (Al-Anon). Speak to a therapist, educate yourself, and work on yourself. Use the serenity prayer to help you on your journey through loving an addict.
Living Sober: Addiction and Recovery

Hi, my name is Matt, and I’m an addict. This is my personal story of drug addiction and recovery. Even though I’ve been sober for over 4 years, I need to continue to be vigilant every single day. See, addiction is a disease that will never be cured. It will never go away. I will always be an addict. 

Up until now, I’ve only told my story of addiction and recovery to a select group of people (my wife, sponsors, and group meeting members):

my personal story of drug addiction

It took me a long time to admit that I had a problem. Sure, I liked to drink. When I was in college, I was drinking, taking drugs, and partying all the time. “It’s college, that’s what you do,” I told myself.

Once I met my wife, we would go out and have drinks. I always was the one who had the most to drink. So what if her friends asked why I drank so much? It was only on the weekends. My wife and I had a Sunday ritual of having a glass of wine. My one drink would quickly turn into three or four. “I don’t drink every day,” I would tell myself. Living Sober

When my wife became pregnant, I was afraid of something happening to the baby. That was all the trigger I needed to start spiraling downward. It started slowly, having two or three vodka sodas on a Sunday night. Then it became Sundays and Thursdays. Then Sundays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Sometimes I would hide it, and sometimes I would be out in the open.

Fast forward and it was happening on a regular basis, and I was hiding it all the time. I hit my first rock bottom one night when I was so drunk, I walked to my father-in-law’s apartment. I don’t remember any of this, but on the way back home, I threw up all over the place. My father-in-law had to take me home because I could barely stand up. This was one of the low points during my personal story of addiction.

changing substances

When I kept getting caught drinking by my wife, I turned to pills. I learned that taking Ambien many hours before sleeping would allow you to become euphoric. Pills were much easier to hide than alcohol. You go to the doctor, get the prescription, fill it at the drug store and keep it hidden. One pill per night turned into two, then three. Always waiting for the next night to come. Always counting how many pills I had left and how long I had until I could get another refill.

Those numbers never worked out in my favor. I would get caught, make promises to stop, and then start up again. Hiding and taking pills, night after night. When I ran out of pills, I would manipulate my parents into sending me some or stealing from them when we visited their house. I would do almost anything to get my fix.

After a while, I was getting bored of the downers and decided it was a good idea to take ADHD medication. See, that’s not totally a fabrication. I do have ADHD. I have a very hard time concentrating and paying attention to things I don’t like. It made it simple to go to a doctor and get those medications: Vyvanse, Adderall, Concerta, Ritalin. It didn’t matter to me which one, they all worked the same.

One a day became two, then three. There were days where I would take two in the morning and two in the afternoon. There were nights that I was so jittery from the medication that I had to get some air because I felt like I was having a heart attack. It didn’t matter. None of those feelings mattered as long as I could get what I wanted, when I wanted it. It was easier for me to walk around in a completely numb state rather than feel any negative emotions.

living sober

That’s the funny thing about addicts and alcoholics living in their personal story of addiction. It is a disease, and one in which we really do not have much control over. The stigma has always been, “why can’t you stop?” or “if you love me, you will stop doing it.” It’s not that simple. What I’ve learned over the years is that most addicts take things to numb themselves from the realities of life. We are not capable of processing and handling anything other than happy feelings and thoughts. One sniff of negativity and it’s off to the races. In truth, addicts are some of the most sensitive people around. It hides underneath the fake façade of drug haze and numbness.

Fear and shame. Underneath all the manipulation, lies, deceit, and betrayals are shame and fear. Us addicts are fearful about things we have to face in life, and we feel complete and utter shame for the choices that we made and make. It’s a psychotic cycle. If you feel shame for a choice, most people just don’t make that same choice any longer. That’s just not how it is for addicts. Those choices make us feel shameful, and because we feel terribly, we go back to the drugs and associated behaviors because we don’t have the tools to feel those negative emotions. It’s the addiction, the dark passenger in your brain, that tricks you into thinking numbing your feelings is the way to live your life. It’s a deny at-all- costs mentality, and it hurts everyone around you. My wife and child were not the priority. My addiction was. personal story of addiction

That’s why you can never say, “I used to be an addict” or, “I used to be an alcoholic.” There is no cure, and it isn’t something you can just “get over.” The moment your guard is let down, that’s when you are ripe for a relapse. I’ve been in rooms where there are people who have been living sober for 10 plus years that got complacent and relapsed.

You must take things one day at a time, and for the people living sober for the first time, one hour or even one minute at a time. Looking to the future is too overwhelming. Go to meetings regularly and participate in sharing your story. Part of the healing is not only accepting you have a disease, but sharing with others around you so you can help them in their journey. I notice that I get more out of the meetings when I share rather than when I don’t.

HOW I MAINTAIN sobriety 

During my personal story of addiction, nothing anyone says to you will make a difference. It goes in one ear and out the other. There are two ways you stop: (1) realizing that you are going to lose everything in your life that matters and hitting rock bottom or (2) death. Thankfully, I never got to number 2. It took a marriage therapist staring me in the face and saying, “You are an addict and if you do not get help, you are going to lose your wife.” That stopped me dead in my tracks, and I realized that I had a problem. I realized that I had to change. I knew things had to be different.

For many, meetings are the place where you can get comfort, support and get healthy. For me, it took having to go to an outpatient rehab center three days a week for four months to fully accept that I had a problem and I needed help. If I hadn’t gone, I don’t know where I would be today, but I do know I wouldn’t be living the life I have now.

Get a sponsor. I have never personally met anyone who has gotten and are living sober lives without a sponsor. Sponsors are people that you can call day or night for help. They will help guide you through the steps and are supposed to keep you accountable for your actions, until you are able to do that for yourself. If you need one, go to meetings and listen to people talk. They always ask the group if they are willing to be a sponsor and hands will get raised. Find someone that you connect with in their story and words.

the serenity prayer

Even though my personal story of addiction is in my past, when you are living sober for the first time, thinking that you can never drink or use again is too overwhelming and scary. It’s losing the only coping mechanism that you know, while trying to develop new and healthy ways to deal with pain, anger and despair. It’s not easy. You have to fight every single day to make sure you are doing the next right thing. When you make a mistake, dust yourself off, learn from it, and try to do better the next time. Do not get sucked back into the trap of saying, “I can’t do anything right, what’s the point in continuing living my life this way.” That is your addiction talking.

“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” It’s accepting things that come your way with humility. Understanding that you can only change your thoughts and actions, not others. It means living your life in a healthy way. Making sure you surround yourself with people who are going to help you continue your sobriety, not bring you back into the darkness. It means loving yourself, loving who you are, and what you stand for.

I have made many, many mistakes living in sobriety and have done things that are not acceptable. The damage won’t go away.  I can try to learn from it and apply those lessons the next time. I continue to take things one day at a time, making sure that I do not allow myself to go back to that dark place. The place where I alienated my friends and family. I can’t make any promises to what the future may hold, but I know if I do the right thing today, it will bring me to a healthier, better tomorrow.

Germ Factory

My Daughter, A germ factory

Is your child as much of a germ factory as mine is? My daughter loves to share her germs when she gets sick. Normally, I think that is a wonderful quality for a child to possess. I love that she will eagerly share her toys and take turns with others. However, there are exceptions to every rule.

The rule of sharing should not apply when it comes to getting sick. My daughter thinks that if she isn’t feeling well, it is perfectly acceptable do everything in her power to share her germs with me. Now I could reason that she didn’t know any better when she was a baby. After all, what do babies know about being germ factories and stopping the spread of germs? At three, I chalked it up to having poor impulse control. However, at the age of 7, she is just playing dirty (no pun intended).

germs are not my friend

I hate germs. My husband calls me a germaphobe, and perhaps I am. I wash my hands thoroughly before I put any item of food into my mouth, I will never eat anything that dropped on the floor (five second rule- ha!), and don’t even get me started on doorknobs and faucet handles. My dream house is one that is fully motion-censored, so I never have to touch anything.

Germ Factory

Despite my own desire to live in a germ-free world, I understand that kids are meant to get dirty. I mean, some of the most fun activities are messy ones. Bring on the slime, the playdough, the finger paints, the playground that every child has touched. I even have pictures of my daughter playing in the mud, with dirt in parts of her where no dirt should ever be. I can handle all that.

my daughter loves to share

What I can’t handle is when my daughter, the germ factory, gets sick. When my daughter has a cold she will do the following: cough on me, wipe her nose on me, sneeze on me, and even lick me. I still have nightmares about what happened when she had a stomach bug.
On top of everything else, being sick rarely slows her down. She doesn’t lay there and play quietly. When I inevitably catch whatever abomination she has, I have to take care of a germ-oozing energizer bunny despite feeling like something that got scraped off of the bottom of a shoe.
I’ve explained to her many-a-time that those types of behaviors are simply unacceptable. However, the more utter disgust I show, the more she seems determined to gross me out (mission accomplished). I try to avoid her when she’s sick, but then I remember that I’m the only one around to take care of her. She doesn’t act this way around her father, and even if she did, I doubt he’d care. I decided that I must follow the same rule you would with dogs and bees- show no fear.
The last time she had a bad cold, I tried to apply my newfound logic. I didn’t react when she used my shorts as Kleenex and didn’t blink an eye when she sneezed in my hair. I calmly walked away from her and didn’t reinforce her behavior in any way (and in the privacy of my own room scrubbed myself down). My thought was that by showing no reaction, there would be no motivation to act that way. Turns out, the motivation is that she simply enjoys sharing her germs with me.
I finally came up with a solution; Vitamin C and Lysol. Wait, you can’t find Lysol anymore…I guess I have to start wearing a mask indoors.
My Labor Story

My labor story was nothing like the women you hear of who gave birth in a toilet bowl or in the car. I noticed I had some leakage (more like a drip), so I called my OB-GYN and spoke to the physician assistant. She informed that it was probably discharge (I apologize if this is TMI). When it continued into the next day, I suspected something was up and called again. This time, they told me to come to their office. I was informed that I lost a significant amount of amniotic fluid and needed to go to the hospital.

To be completely honest, I wasn’t thrilled with the timing. My due date was August 8th, and it was August 2nd (which is my wedding anniversary). I joked with my husband throughout my pregnancy that the baby would want to arrive on our anniversary, and apparently it was a self-fulfilling prophecy.  I knew this would be the last time I’d get to celebrate my anniversary fully (because her birthday would be the same or next day), so I tried to convince my husband to stop for a quick anniversary meal on the way. Shockingly my request was denied, and we rushed to the hospital.

my Labor and delivery

I was not dilated at all, so they had to give me Petocin. All this did was speed up my contractions, but still no dilation. Seventeen hours into my labor I had dilated 3cm and I had a fever. My husband kept commenting on how my body was shaking from the contractions. Nurses kept coming in to ask me what brought me there (seriously?!). The anesthesiologist administered the epidural manually on four separate occasions.

My theory is that my body realized that in order to survive I was going to have to dilate, so I finally dilated 7cm after TWENTY-ONE hours of labor (on top of 24 hours of a high water leak). By 23 hours and change, I was fully dilated. My OB-GYN (who came highly recommended) was texting on her phone when it was time to push. I decided I was getting that baby out of me with or without her help (which clearly I wasn’t getting), and I delivered my daughter after 30 minutes of pushing. The complications I had after delivery are another story, and perhaps one I will go into at another time (or perhaps I’ll just spare you the gory details).

our nicu experience

My husband and I had decided we would not find out if we were having a boy or a girl in advance. Everyone (myself included) thought that I was having a boy. We had picked out a definitive name for a boy, and had a couple of names for a girl. When we looked at our daughter for the first time, we knew this was our Brielle.

My Labor Story

I didn’t know it at the time, but my daughter was not breathing after their first attempt, and it took a good twenty seconds before she started to cry. My husband did not get to cut the umbilical cord, and she was rushed to the NICU because they thought Brielle might have an infection due to my fever. My husband and I were the only visitors allowed to see her at the hospital.

When I finally made it to the NICU, I was informed that my daughter’s blood sugar level had dropped. Unfortunately, they had to give her formula before I arrived. I had wanted to breastfeed her for her first feeding, but unfortunately, that was not in the cards. I was able to feed her the next time though. After two days at NICU she was deemed healthy and we took her home.

It is unbelievable to think that my labor story took place almost eight years ago. I am able to look back at it now and laugh, but it was anything but funny at the time. That experience seems like it happened yesterday and also a million years ago. Giving birth to a child is a great representation of parenthood; it brings you unimaginable pain, but also brings you unimaginable joy

Homeschooling Tips

homeschooling tips

Homeschooling your child is no easy task. Not to brag, but I started homeschooling before it was even a thing. Joking aside, when I started homeschooling my daughter I didn’t know anyone who was homeschooling. Who would have thought a pandemic would force every household to teach their kids from home? In the past year and a half, I have found these homeschooling tips extremely useful.

Most of you were thrown into homeschooling and had to go along with whatever your child’s school implemented. This isn’t the greatest representation of the realities of homeschooling.

I decided to homeschool my then first-grade daughter for a myriad of reasons. Brielle is a super smart girl. She knew her letters and numbers by 2, started reading and writing paragraphs by three. As bright as she is, she also has ADHD, working memory issues, executive functioning issues, as well as processing issues. When you put that together it translated to a girl who is very capable, but was performing differently at school than she was at home. She learns differently than others, and she wasn’t able to get the support she needed in school to thrive academically.

We looked all over the internet for homeschooling tips and suggestions to aid us in making the right decision for her.

Homeschooling Tips

We enrolled her in an online accredited school because it took some of the pressure off of me to figure out what she needed to learn for that grade (and I didn’t have to worry about preparing materials). Also, if I decide at a later time to enroll her in school, she can be put into the proper grade without any issues.

There are many ways to homeschool your child, and there is no right or wrong way. Each state has online public schools, but they fill up very quickly. They also offer various private homeschooling programs with varying teacher support (which also varies the price- these online schools are not fools). You can also come up with your own curriculum and not rely on any type of school. There are several websites out there that sell materials, and you can look up topics online or make your own materials. Google is your friend. Don’t be afraid to use it to look up school options for your state or homeschooling materials for your child’s grade.

I chose an online school with a program that provided hard copy texts and manipulatives, as Brielle is a kinesthetic learner. I couldn’t have Brielle in a school where it was all taught online, because endless computer time + Brielle= Brielle bouncing off the walls. As a result I taught Brielle 99% of the time (cue jaw drop), and occasionally there was a related video that she watched to reinforce what she learned.

Here are the pros and cons of homeschooling:


(1) You can tailor the level of learning to the needs of the child

That means that if your kid needs extra help or extra time to grasp a topic, you are able to provide that. If your child is advanced in certain subjects, you will be able to do work at his or her level. I drove the homeschool’s coordinator crazy changing Brielle’s level and materials until I found the right fit for her. Truthfully, this poor woman has probably quit her job.

(2) You can tailor the support to the need of the child

You know your child best, so you can provide the proper accommodations to ensure success. You are there if your child needs redirection or needs further explanation. This is essential for kids with learning disabilities, or kids who need different support than what is typically provided in a classroom.

Homeschooling Tips
(3) Instead of putting your trust in someone else to teach your child, you are now holding all the cards.

Most teachers are wonderful, but there are many students in a class, and the teacher cannot solely focus on your child.

(4) You can tailor the material to your child

For example, if your child likes science, you can spend extra time doing science experiments. Learning comes in a variety of ways! Take a walk and teach them about nature. Let them splash in the rain and teach them about the water cycle. Learning through play is always best, and when it’s fun for them, it’s also fun for you. Afterall, less child hysterics means less hysterical Mom.

(5) Often kids get bullied at school

Homeschooling your child allows your kids to socialize despite not participating in a classroom. Many places offer cooperative learning where you homeschool with other families. We didn’t have that option in our area, but Brielle participated in numerous extracurricular activities, so she still got to socialize.

(6) Homeschooling takes less time than traditional school

A typical school day is 7-8 hours, and homeschooling shouldn’t take any longer than a few hours because you are only teaching one student- yours! That drastically cuts down the amount of time needed to learn. With my daughter’s focusing issues, that was a huge benefit.

(7) You can plan school around your schedule as opposed to the other way around

Brielle and I were able to accompany my husband on a work trip without worrying that she would miss school. We simply did extra learning beforehand and took that time to enjoy ourselves.


(1) Your child is home during the day

Every day. All the time. I know you’ve all gotten somewhat used to having them around since March (or have learned to tolerate it), but this is a whole new ballgame when it is the entire schoolyear.

(2) You need the patience of a saint

I think I’m pretty patient with my daughter, but everyone has their limits, and children are excellent at testing them. Most kids are on their best behavior for their teacher, and then they act out at home. Now that I’m Teacher Mommy, it’s just a three-ring circus around here.

(3) You will wear many hats, and it can be very overwhelming

You need to figure out a way to balance your role as teacher with your role as mother (in addition to the thousand other roles and responsibilities we have). I aged 10 years and had about 300,000 meltdowns during the first three weeks that I homeschooled Brielle. Brielle also had about 300,000 meltdowns. Surprisingly, my husband barricaded himself in his office.


(4) Homeschooling can be exhausting

There were times where I was super proud of the way I presented a lesson, and Brielle would stare back at me as if I was speaking a foreign language. Other times I would ask a question and wish there was someone else to call on because Brielle was busy studying the paint on our ceiling. You will need to be prepared to try different ways of teaching to find what works for your child. That way of teaching may vary by subject, mood or even the day.

(5) YOU are responsible for their learning

That is a pro, but it is also a con. Their success (and failure) rests on your shoulders. That is a great responsibility, and not one that should be taken lightly.

(6) Although your child can get plenty of socialization, it is not the same thing as being in a school with kids everyday for 7 hours a day

If you have a kid that is incredibly social, that might be worth considering.

(7) Have I mentioned that your child will now be home with you

I strongly feel that point is worth mentioning again. Stop and let that soak in for awhile.

(8) If you have power struggles with your kids now, just wait until you start homeschooling them

Getting your child to listen to you is not easy. Getting your child to listen to you while trying to teach them is a form of torture. The child who smiled all so sweetly at school has given me looks that make me worry that she is possessed.

Homeschooling isn’t right for every child, and it certainly isn’t right for every parent. Like all parenting choices, you need to trust your instincts and decide what is the best fit for you. If you do decide to homeschool, my biggest piece of advice is to remember that it is a marathon, not a sprint. It takes time to find your footing. Homeschooling is a huge transition. As long as your kids are clothed, fed, and healthy, you are off to a great start!

I hope these homeschooling tips can be helpful to you as you plan your child’s education and curriculum. As always, if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact me!

self-love and a reminder to love yourself

Self-love is easy to forget when life throws so much your way.  Therefore, this is a reminder to love yourself. This letter is for you. Yes, you.

I see your strength, determination, and kindness. I also see your pain. Some days you just want to hide under the covers and never get out of bed. Somehow you always find a way to get up and keep on going.

I see how tired you are from juggling all of life’s responsibilities. Mortgage, bills, jobs, kids, organizing, scheduling, cooking, cleaning, planning activities; the list goes on and on. You are now the teacher too. With the pandemic, it is more overwhelming than ever. It seems like every time one thing gets accomplished, another thing pops up. It is exhausting, but you never stop trying.

I see how hard you try to be a wonderful mom. I see how much time you devote to motherhood. You will play one more game, read one more book, sing one more song, listen to one more story, give one more hug, and wipe away one more tear. I know you are not just the mom; you are the caregiver, cook, playmate, cheerleader, confidant, educator, nurse, and support system. I see that you want to set a good example and be a good role model. No matter how much you try, sometimes it feels like it’s never enough.

all that you do

I see how you take care of everyone else. How you strive to be a great wife, daughter, sister, friend, and person. I see your heart, and I see how much you love and care. Your needs sometimes get thrown by the wayside because you are too busy looking out for everyone else. I see that sometimes you don’t feel appreciated and feel the weight of the world on your shoulders.

Self Love Letter

I see your loneliness, now more than ever. Social isolation has become the new norm. I see that even when you reach out, there often isn’t enough time or the right words to express how you feel. Even if you know what to say, you don’t want to burden others with your struggles. Sometimes it feels like nobody understands you or truly cares.

I see the hardships you’ve had to overcome in your life and the cruelties you’ve had to endure. I see that no matter what curveballs are thrown your way, you refuse to give up. Others might have crumbled, but you didn’t. I see that you are survivor. I see your bravery, and I see your courage.

There are times when you feel weak and like the walls are closing in on you. Never forget how far you’ve come. You are strong, resilient, and capable. No matter how many times life has and will knock you down, you will always get back up. I see that you are a fighter; you always were, and always will be.

I see you. All of you. I am proud of who you are. You’ve got this.

Love always,


Surviving Motherhood

We are survivors. As women, as people, we have all had to survive different obstacles in our lives. Of course, the degree of survival differs from person to person, but we have all had struggles in one way or another. For me, I had to survive a traumatic childhood and create strategies to have a loving, healthy relationship with my daughter. I believe that these parenting tips and strategies are helpful regardless of your specific struggles.

parenting tips and strategies

These are the 6 parenting tips and strategies that helped me become the mother I am today:

(1) As a scared new mom, and even after all these years of parenthood, I often have NO idea what I am doing

If someone tells you they have all the answers, I have a bridge to sell you.  You can read parenting tips and strategies on the internet every day, and you will still not have all the answers. Each day it is my first time being a mother to my daughter at that age. Children do not come with a “how to” manual, and each child is different. What I do know is what NOT to do. I have a list of things that I will NEVER, ever do because those were horrific things that happened to me.

Awareness is key in implementing change. So I faced every horrific thing my mother did to me. I allowed myself to feel the helplessness, the sadness and the pain. If I allowed myself to stay in denial, or to convince myself that it was somehow justified, then how could I stop it from happening at my own hands? I used my own childhood as a roadmap of where I would never allow myself to go.

(2) For many of us, toxic and dysfunctional relationships are all we know

It is crucial that we learn new and healthy ways of parenting. Don’t be afraid to get help! Read those parenting books (and roll your eyes at the things you know wouldn’t work for your child), phone a friend (or two, or three) when you are having a bad day or you need some advice on how to proceed. Read that self-help book (or two, or three) that you’ve read so many times that it is hard to make out the words. Reach out to your spouse or find a good therapist. It is okay to ask for help.

(3) Kids will trigger the daylights out of you, and it is essential that you take time for your own well-being.

Parenting is hard! Scream into a pillow. Write in your journal. Talk to yourself in the mirror. Be your greatest friend and ally. Take the time to work on healthy coping mechanisms, and cheer yourself on for all the progress you have made. Remember, it is a marathon, not a sprint.

On particularly stressful days I make sure my daughter is safely occupied, and then I go into my bedroom, lock the door, and vent (sometimes to my husband, and sometimes I am a frazzled woman talking to myself). My daughter knows that sometimes Mommy needs a time-out too. We openly talk about our feelings, and she knows that feeling overwhelmed or frustrated is not something that only kids have to deal with.

(4)  We will all make mistakes

As long as we are not abusing our children, mistakes are natural, normal, and par for the course. Accept responsibility for your mistakes, learn from them, and grow from them. Be willing to apologize to your children and recognize when you have done something wrong.

Parenting Tips

Many of us grew up feeling that we had to be perfect or had a caregiver who never admitted any wrongdoing. I am definitely a work-in-progress when it comes to expecting perfection from myself. I associated saying or doing the wrong thing with shame, because I was often shamed for my mistakes. If I don’t want my daughter to expect perfection from herself, I realized that I needed to set the right example that nobody (myself included) is perfect.  There is no shame in making mistakes. I can be a great mom and still mess up. I can be the parent and still apologize if I do something that I regret.

(5)  Just as our children need a parent, so do we

When we were children, some of us did not get the love and compassion we needed from our parents.  If we did not receive support and kindness from our own parents, then we need to be our own parent.

How do we do that? Talk to that little child inside of you. Tell your inner child everything you wish you had heard from your parents and validate your inner child’s feelings and experiences. In order to love our children in healthy ways, we need to learn how to love ourselves.

(6) Unconditional love

The two most beautiful words in the world (in my opinion). What so many of us craved, but never received, was unconditional love. Give your children that love. Love them on the good days, and love them and support them on the difficult ones.

My daughter never doubts the love I have for her. She knows that no matter how I am feeling and no matter what she says or does, that nothing can ever change the love I have for her. She knows that to the point where she rolls her eyes when I say it to her. My daughter knows that no matter where life takes her, I will always be waiting for her with open arms and an open heart.



Ian S. Thomas wrote, “Before your children came, they were told that you would love them, so whatever you do, however you treat them…to them, it is love.” Being a parent is the greatest responsibility one will ever have. We know better than anyone how significant our role is in our child’s life. It is the greatest challenge and the greatest joy to be a parent. Remember to honor both, and you will be able to navigate the bumpy road of parenting.