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Scheherazade in Blue Jeans
freelance alchemist
6th-Sep-2011 10:19 am
I am not, by nature, a patient person. But I've had a lot of practice recently.

And it takes a lot to think about it that way, to reframe. To not live in a state of "AUGH WHERE IS THE FAST-FORWARD BUTTON". I'm used to needing to work fast, go fast, get things done now now now. But August was one long pause.

So I reframed. I slowed down. I have had a lot of impatience, still. But I made myself see this as a set of opportunities.

Elayna got a lot done this past week, especially, and that's partly because I was able to be patient and match her pace. When I'm cleaning, I tend to take multi-hour chunks and Do All The Things. She's easily overwhelmed, and needs to be able to pause and take breaks, sometimes needing a few days to do something that I'd do in a few hours. We have had, in the past, a pattern that helps no one: She lets things pile up into a towering insurmountable mess, I repeat "clean your room/desk" at her periodically for a few weeks, she can't do it because she's overwhelmed and can't figure out where to start, I end up snapping at her and Adam (who is very similar to her in this regard) and becoming Tyrant Mom because I cannot deal with the level of mess, and then everyone in the house is angry and miserable.

Part of the problem I've had with helping her is that she really needs someone in the room with her the entire time. Not to do things for her, but to guide her. So this means days of me not getting any of my own stuff done, and days of standing in her doorway saying variants on "Okay, you spend a lot of time looking for $ITEM - where do you think would be a more intuitive place to keep it?" and "Do you still use $ITEM? Not since Georgia? Okay, let's donate that to charity." And every so often, she turns her pleading eyes up to me and, regarding some task, says "I just can't - can we do that part tomorrow?" and instead of saying "Dude, that will take 15 minutes, just do it," I have to say "Okay."

And we made it work; I allowed her her own pace, and she did do the things she was putting off when she said she'd do them, which has classically not been the case for her. Her nightstand is clear and she can find things, everything is tidy, everything is in a sense-making place. Her desk is really clean and set up in a way that makes sense to her for the first time in maybe years, and she's working at it. We looked at a lot of options for managing her school stuff (her biggest problems: tons of messy notebooks, not writing down assignments, leaving projects til the last minute), and she settled on having a three-ring binder with a section for each subject, and using two of the homework/life organizing forms that grntserendipity designed for her. (She's still carrying a spiral notebook as well, which I don't think is necessary, but it can be her security blanket. She's making a lot of changes. She's entitled.) We'll meet every Friday afternoon to go through her backpack and make sure her system is working for her. She decided that an hour of snack and decompression is sufficient, and thus she will start her homework by 4 every day. Also that she will begin big projects upon receipt, so she won't have that mounting dread as they come due.

This is my first downtime in over a month, this right now. It's the first time I'm not supervising Elayna or Adam. Lots of work is getting done around this house! Which is mostly because I have Been Sick for years, and only now am I well enough and have enough time to get things in order. Which is involving a lot of dismantling of layers of crud and bad habits. A lot. And doing so with a patience that does not come naturally.

I'm not starting my own new schedule today, because Adam's taking tomorrow off to help get Tor to the vet for her X-rays. (Which means tomorrow is a Get Stuff Done day like whoa; donating books to the library, calling local comic shops to see if anyone wants to buy a fuckload of comics, list stuff on Freecycle, et cetera.) So today is an in-between day. I will do that hair treatment thing, I will knit some hexipuffs, I will bake bread, I will answer a bunch of e-mails, I will write something non-novel-y, and I will take apart my closet (because I know I have stuff lurking in there that I don't need).

Patience and slowness is hard. But I'm glad I was able to reframe this as an opportunity; it helped Elayna a lot, I think.
6th-Sep-2011 02:47 pm (UTC) - We have those fights
My elder and I.

I instituted a 10-second rule. For every thing he picks up, he should know in 10 seconds where it goes. If he doesn't it gets set aside to be figured out. As with so many things, the 10-second rule gets you through 80% of the crap. It also helps keep him from stopping and playing with/reading/fidgeting every single object he picks up.

But yeah, the having to stand over him for 2-3 hours makes me INSANE.
6th-Sep-2011 06:11 pm (UTC) - Re: We have those fights
There's a helpful book, ORGANIZING FROM THE INSIDE OUT. Iirc she has a 3-box rule: keep, get rid, and figure it out later.

I'd maybe sub-divide Keep into 'Keep and I know where to put it later' and 'Keep and decide later where to put it'.

6th-Sep-2011 02:51 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the description of guiding Elayna. I have problems with getting overwhelmed, and I may be able to use it as an example of how to deal with myself.
6th-Sep-2011 03:02 pm (UTC)
I hope it helps!
6th-Sep-2011 04:27 pm (UTC)
I found that it's easy to get overwhelmed by this sort of thing; it's a good thing for Elayna to start coming to grips with now, while she only has a few years' worth of things to go through, rather than later, when she has a houseful of 20-year-old boxes that have never been opened.
6th-Sep-2011 06:40 pm (UTC)
Yeah, it's not easy letting life [or people] go at it's own pace.

But hey, it's kinda worth it not to have the stress, right?
(Deleted comment)
7th-Sep-2011 04:27 am (UTC)
WEll, you could think of it as using all your Tidiness Points in the areas that are most important. ;-)
7th-Sep-2011 03:05 am (UTC)
I was a lot like Elayna as a kid/teen (and still am really).

My mom, while a lovely person in lots of ways, has never really grokked that about me, and remains somewhat baffled.

So yay you for getting it and being able to help Elayna.
7th-Sep-2011 05:55 am (UTC)
Rather than trying to clean the whole desk at a time, then one whole corner of the room, etc, for some kids it's easier to say, "Fill up this box with things to get rid of, from anywhere in the room." Thins out the room, at least.
7th-Sep-2011 08:16 pm (UTC)
Agh. Elayna and her room sounds like me and my house. T_T With the added complication of being a mom, and health and fatigue crap.
8th-Sep-2011 08:56 pm (UTC)
I think you've at least got a start on the right way to handle the housework. It might be helpful if the homework form doesn't have it to create basic pages for longer projects where you and Elena can break down the things to be done into smaller pieces and set guidelines for when those should be done. I always sucked at that skill until I was almost through grad school, and while it didn't matter much grade-wise, it made my life ridiculous not to be better at getting things done sooner.

Another thing that may make a big difference is in addition to the schoolwork thing, create a housework list that breaks things down into a lot of small tasks. Put the list up somewhere everyone can see it, have a discussion about it all needing to be done once a week (or two or whatever) and set up a reward system for doing say 10 or 25 things on the list properly - have everyone initial and date when it was done or set up a nightly check or whatever. It works for my partner and I, both of whom are slackers from hell and seem to be incapable of keeping our place uncluttered, putting things away, dusting more than once a month, etc without it.

The nice thing about splitting it up into a shit-ton of fast tasks is that when I feel like ass I don't feel as bad about only managing a small thing today (like feeding myself) and when I have more spoons I can check off a bunch of things and I feel more accomplished. And it makes things easier to fit into short time frames (like I have 10 minutes before dinner is ready, let me wipe down the kitchen) and take breaks between tasks if I need them. For T, he tends to accomplish one thing, plays on the computer or has a cigarette, then does another thing, etc.
8th-Sep-2011 08:58 pm (UTC)
That should say homework in the first sentence.
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