I wonder what is the Rhythm of your Family Life?
It's half term for many, so is it a chance to kick back and do things differently, or take things at a slower pace? Transition and change - especially for the holidays can be a challenge as well as a joy. The change in routine can - and does throw some children, not just the child who is adopted.
PJ loves routine - it brings stability and breeds security - it is like the receiving blanket that she perhaps didn't have when she was a baby. Routine and structure is her: it's OK I am here, you are safe. You can relax. I am here. This is the Love of basic trust. The foundational bit a newborn receives in those early months. Except for PJ her basic foundational trust either wasn't built on firm foundations at all or simply wasn't there. The receiving blanket of trust of food not being there or provided all the time, the change of many care givers, the cries that weren't calmed perhaps often, or that rocking that rocked her world with domestic violence has shaken and stirred her, from deep within. It has been a rocky start.
We are early into the adoptive placement, nearly 6 months and our pace of family life is still finding it's optimum rhythm. I am trying to find the right pace for life to not rock her world too much, whilst introducing the concept that life isn't always the same. Some things change and do change and that despite the change, we are OK. life carries on.
I have stuck to the same daily routine she had known from her foster carers and her bedtime routines and favourite and familiar foods to try and cushion the rocking of her world with the transition and change as we try and form a new family. Together. A new team.
I am familiar with leading teams. Whole classes that changed every year as a class teacher, where we would network with the previous class teacher to find out about each child, whole school ethos's would be developed for simple things like do we all write the date on the top left or right hand of the page, or do we all mark with a smiley face, or do we all give positive praise and rewards for the same things? These similarities and common practise can really help a child moving from one year to another with transition and change, for them to succeed.
I have led International teams of children and young people and families into nations where we have all had to learn to adapt, to be flexible, to take on a whole new culture and to be team - and in a sense, to be family together. As a team leader, during these times, I have learnt to put in place a daily schedule, good team fun times, plan our meal times, bedtimes and when and where we might shower and wash our clothes. Each time we move to a new location, our rhythm changes and we adapt. It takes time and is a necessary part of their transition. We re-group. Orientation happens. We spend the day learning about the new place we are in, the new culture and spend time exploring the new place with lots of family team time fun before we get on with the rest of our team purpose. As leader, I watch for the warning signs that the team is tired or needs more and we change accordingly. Lead so they can follow, without leaving them all behind.
Now, as a new Mummy, I am building a new team. A family. It's a new breed. Me and PJ. Never been done before. There are times when I feel I am taming a wild horse. Learning to grapple with the reins is a learning process all the time. New places and meeting new people take it's toll. I try and re-group after these times. I try and cushion busy days with quieter days, like I have known with teams. like a buffer, I surround the new with something more low key, something that is more relaxing. Time to process, time to be just us, time to re-adjust, re-align, re-group, to re-merge.
We go out for a busy day and the next day we kick back a little by staying home based where we do some craft, play and then go to the park. Friday nights are becoming known as the extremely popular movie night where we watch a DVD and eat hot dogs or chicken nuggets or a pizza on the sofa.
Over the Christmas holidays we did a few Saturday type days, she is growing more accustomed to. PJ loves to be in her pyjamas, so much so that she would happily be in them all day. Wearing any clothes and getting dressed can be a challenge. I have tried to add Saturday mornings as pyjamas mornings as a bit of a motivator. Is it the weekend? she will say. Can we watch telly with our pyjamas on? Yes I say. She beams. She loves it. Weekdays are distinctly different, more so next year when she starts school and I will go back to work. I am trying to prepare us both now.
I am aiming for us both to be up and dressed weekdays by 8.30am and after half term I am going to aim for 8.15am. It's gonna be a killer. I know. We will get there. We've gone from the pyjama preference and ensuing tantrums over wearing any clothes by about 10.30am to being ready for 9am. We are a work in progress.
This year, we have some Nursery days, some days when we do other things like toddler dance or toddler group and other days when we meet up with someone or travel a bit further afield on a day trip and other days where it is just us.
Who's coming today, Mummy? she says.
No one I say, it is just us. She loves it.
You see, our Rhythm of our Family Life needs to be a mix of both busy and also time for us. We are family and in this for the long haul. Pj needs to grow into the security that our rhythm of family life might change and it does and will continue to change but even so, we are still: Family.
Safe and secure. Just us.
I hope you find your Rhythm for your Family Life.