Thursday, March 12, 2015

Routine Matters

If there is one thing I always take for granted while being ADHD, it's my routine. Here's how my morning wake-up routine goes:

I wake up at 6:30-7am (factoring in the 15-30 minutes it takes to actually get out of bed; sleep deficiency is hell). I take my dog, Tucker, to the bathroom, feed him and while he's eating, I'll make up the horses' morning breakfast and feed them.

Now here is where I have a routine within a routine. Because I have four horses, they all have their herd pecking order that I need to abide by so no one starts eating out of the wrong bucket. I feed my Thoroughbred, Alex, first, since she's in a separate pasture and gets worked up if she's not eating first. Lena is next because she has to go into a pen to eat so MJ and Dreamer can't bother her slow-eating habits. Finally, MJ then Dreamer get their buckets put in place. I go into my hay barn, grab hay for Alex first then take three flakes out to Lena, MJ, and Dreamer. Around this time, Lena will pull away from whatever grain she has left, so I'll have to pull one of the hay buckets into her pen and dump the rest of the food on it (still haven't figured out why she does this). Then I'll clean the pastures of any manure (they're dirt pastures), let Lena out of her pen, gather the buckets, and go inside to eat breakfast and finish getting ready. The feeding routine repeats in the same way during the evening too.

Because I've gotten so used to my routine and the way I have things, I pretty much took for granted how much I rely on it to completely bring myself around into the world. While I knew it was important, I didn't realize how much until I was forced to change it.

On Tuesday, we took Alex up to Tifton to get bred again after she aborted her twins back in January. The morning routine was pretty much the same, but that evening when we got back, I quickly noticed a slight change in the way I had to make feed and feed the horses. It didn't fully hit though, until yesterday morning. The loss of only feeding three horses instead of four sent my ADHD brain into a small tailspin. Yesterday morning, I had to catch myself before mixing up the feeding portions for the horses and forgot to clean the pasture. That evening, I didn't realize I mixed up the portions until they were eating (they're all on the same food, so its really no big deal, but it did irk me). This morning, I put Lena in the pen first and was halfway through throwing hay before I realized that I forgot to give MJ and Dreamer their buckets. This evening, I had to catch myself on their portions again.

There are a lot of articles on both adult ADHD and children with ADHD that state one of the most important things ADHDers can do to help with time management and organization is establish a routine. Whether its a bedtime routine that helps the morning not feel so rushed or its a morning routine that gets everybody up and refreshed, it's definitely a tool that a lot of people with ADHD rely on to help get through their day. But when it gets changed, everything goes into a tailspin and it seems to just downhill from that point on.

It's just something I can't help but laugh a little at because while most neuro-typical's are able to recognize the change and work around it, my brain goes insane and decides to mutiny. It's not something I can change or work around, but just simply flow with until my new routine settles in and clicks my brain back into place...until about a month or two later when we have to bring Alex back and I'm changing my routine to feed four horses again.

So moral of the story: my ADHD brain loves its little routines and will decide to mutiny at the slightest change, leaving me to forget little steps here and there and create a funny anecdote out of it until the new routine settles in. Especially when its 7 in the morning and I'm still half asleep.

Until next time!