Would you describe your daughter as tired and exhausted? Think about her daily schedule. School begins at 8:15 a.m. and ends at 3:15 p.m. then it’s off to after-school activities for your daughter and her brothers. Does your schedule look like this? Speech therapy 30 minutes a week, vision therapy 1 hour a week, occupational therapy 1 hour a week, oh and how can you forget STEAM after-school for an hour one day a week. Let’s not forget the homework, 20 minutes of reading a night, OT exercises, vision therapy homework 4 times a week, and incorporating speech practice within everyday conversation with your daughter. Wow ~ now I am exhausted. What about you?
It is hard to figure out a good balance between school and after-school activities. Is there such a thing, balance? There are lots of articles debating about kids being overscheduled with after-school activities. This is not one of those posts. I have lots of mom friends who are providing their children with lots of valuable experiences from piano lessons to athletics. But, for children with dyslexia, this balance or lack of balance can take a real toll on them physically and emotionally.
How the school day is more challenging . . .
If your child has been recently diagnosed with dyslexia or is still in the early years of remediation, the school day is quite exhausting. Just think about the most difficult task you complete that causes you to be physically and emotionally exhausted – maybe it’s creating a monthly home budget or an annual evaluation report . . . now consider how stressful and frustrating that task is and imagine doing that all-day-long every day. For children with dyslexia, the day is consumed with exposure to words. Worrying if they are going to be called on to read a passage in Language Arts to reading math problems. To be honest, I don’t think I really appreciated how frustrating and taxing this is on our daughter’s self-esteem until I recently changed jobs. I literally felt overwhelmed as I got settled with a new drive to work, work culture, work schedule, and new processes. Then, I had the thought, “Is this how Haddie felt when we moved and she started a new school last year?” It gave a new perspective. Although I don’t know exactly how she felt at the time, I do know that I felt overwhelmed and wanted to go back to my old job (where I was comfortable and felt valued). I can only imagine how our daughter has been feeling the last few years as she continues to constantly experience changes in her day (from therapies to a new school).
How do you know if your child is exhausted?
Watch for signs – Does your daughter come home from school and collapse on the couch or head to her room to lay in her bed to watch t.v.? Does she complain that she doesn’t feel well? Headaches? Stomach aches? In isolation, it may just have been a hard day. But, if your daughter is complaining of headaches on a daily basis and doesn’t have much energy at night, then you may want to take a look at her daily schedule. I know when our daughter had multiple therapy appointments after-school (vision, OT, and speech) she was exhausted by Wednesday night and it was a struggle to get through to Friday. Luckily, that was only a season for us where we had a crazy schedule for about 6 months. At the time, we didn’t sign up for after-school activities. But now that we only have speech for 30 minutes a week, we have added Girl Scouts and we are looking to add a sport in the Winter.
What to do if your child is exhausted
Make time for breaks, rest, and reconsider your schedule – We live in a time where we are constantly looking for the next thing to do. It also gives us self-confidence when we do something well (for our children it maybe soccer or volleyball – an activity that is not school-related). It is important that we look at our schedule and find a time for breaks and rest. This can be a challenge, but for our children, we have to make the commitment. You may decide to turn off all electronics at a certain time each night and have time for games, conversation, and rest. There is no wrong way to take a break. But, I would recommend that you be intentional about taking a break and making time for rest. If you look at your planner and realize there is absolutely no time each week to recharge, then you may want to give some serious thought to trying to free up at least one night a week for your family. When you have children participating in athletics this may be a challenge as you don’t set the practice schedule. But you may want to look for other options. Could your spouse, parent, or friend pick up your daughter from her brother’s practice once a week so she can get home earlier for homework and some downtime? When you are watching for signs of exhaustion, you will know when it is time to reevaluate the after-school schedule. Good luck. This is not an easy task. It may just be a season of life where some adjustments have to be made so that your child with dyslexia can complete her remediation and any needed therapies. It is a reality that raising children with dyslexia has an impact on the family dynamics in a number of ways and this is one of them (after-school schedule).
Identifying when we need to adjust our schedule is still a work in progress at our house. I have to be mindful to watch for clues from our daughter that it’s time to slow down and rest. We all need time to recharge and we have to make rest a priority in our schedules.
Enjoy a little rest this week,