Lessons from leaving the house!
It used to take us a very long time to leave the house. With two PDA children, getting everyone onboard, meeting all needs, getting all preparations done and everyone out, without precipitating overload, was a challenging, patience requiring, and time consuming task. Those days are, largely, in our past. However, I was reminded this week of those times, and it made me revisit my strategies from that period.
Let me set the scene from this week. The weather has been glorious, we've been fairly home bound as Easter Holidays have been in full swing. NB. We generally "hibernate" over the school holidays as everywhere tends to be very busy and we prefer it when it's quieter. It had been some time since we had gone out the three of us. All these conditions can make leaving the house more ... "sticky". I had worked out what the optimal time for us to leave the house would be to manage morning needs, yet get out, spend time and be able to leave before the place got really busy with after school children. I had proposed this to the boys and they were happy with the plan. So, I set about with the various amounts of conversations and plans to meet this schedule. Right from the off I knew the plan was in trouble. There was lots of inertia. Both children were quite focused on what they were doing. Things were progressing really slowly and I could see the time to leave fast approaching. My annoyance was beginning to rise, and I was in danger of allowing that frustration to boil over. I suddenly caught myself angrily thinking "why is this so hard?". And then I stopped. And then I remembered. And then I laughed at myself.
You see, one of the keys to getting out of the house when they were younger was recognising, and managing, MY inflexibility, MY impatience, MY demands. On the vast majority of occasions, it was my idea of leaving at a particular time that I was holding fast to. I was trying to foster action and flexibility by being inflexible. It made no sense. Back then I challenged myself to model more flexibility in myself. Over time this approach did indeed lead to my boys being more active and flexible about leaving the house. Some occasions cannot be flexible e.g. appointments. Over time, in these cases, we have developed very different conversations and preparation for leaving the house. But the heart of this is still based in communication, connection and as much flexibility as we can manage given the constraints.
So this week I smiled, I reassessed who was really being inflexible, who was holding onto a needless demand, and I stepped back. I accepted we would leave, when we left.
We did indeed all leave the house. No one got overwhelmed, angry or anxious. We were about 1.5 hours "late" based on my originally agreed plan. We had a nice trip, explored a new place, and my fear of it getting too busy for us did not materialise. Importantly though, I had a good reminder. That is, that our children learn most from what they experience and witness, and not what we are trying to force or tell them. It is our behaviour that models the most powerful messages.