Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Delayed Response Disorder

I suffer from DRD. Yes, I know that there are many other significant and challenging disorders out there that are serious and require medical attention, counseling, and much training to deal with and overcome.

But my disorder just comes with being alive. I call it: Delayed Response Disorder or DRD. You see, when I focus, I am GONE. When someone, actually anyone, comes up to me and asks me a question, makes a comment, or even submits a demand, it takes me a second or two to come back to the here and now, switch mental gears, and be able to answer.

This particular challenge is more apparent in parents who are new parents, stay-at-home mothers with several elementary school children who are home for the afternoon, and especially parents with demanding and unruly teenagers. It is even a challenge for spouses whose better half works from the home. If you are around, you are supposed to be HERE, ready and willing, to respond gently, kindly and without hesitation. But many times, especially is stress is running high or you are running behind, you are only present in body; your mind has flown somewhere else.

So what do we do when we suffer from Delayed Response Disorder? There are several different ways to have a calmer, more peaceful home life!

Train Your Children
Train your children to let you have occasional time-alone periods for approximately 20-minute increments each. This training can begin as soon as your children are old enough to want their own “time alone” from the baby (so they can play without interruption or getting their toys messed up).

Begin by teaching the concept of “time alone” and counter-offering such a privilege to your child that wants to play uninterrupted. Then suggest that you, too, need to occasionally separate yourself any interruptions and ask this same child to return the favor, say for five whole minutes.

“Jon, you were so happy to have time without interruption from the baby when I kept him with me so you could play with your construction toys. Now it is my turn to have a time alone. Yes, you may in the same room with me and the baby, and yes you can talk to the baby, but until the timer dings, let’s not talk to each other.”

When this “time alone” has been successfully completed and you have time to think clearly for five whole minutes, then work up to ten minutes. Soon you will be able to have 15 minutes without interruptions and finally 20 minutes. Remember, often you will be in the same room so as to be a comfort to your children, but they can learn to respect your need to be GONE. Set a timer and set some rules: no questions, no interruptions, and no comments until the timer dings.

You see, all of us need some alone time. We need some silence. We need some space to think through our priorities, our relationships, and maybe just to let our minds rest from the incessant questions.

Take a Walk
Another useful idea that works in especially busy households is to take regular walks. When the children are pre-schoolers, let them come long in the stroller or on their bikes after your morning chores are done or you need a break from work at the home office. Take a good long walk each day to the park or around the block or even just down to the stop sign and back. It is one of the best ways to get away from the phone, the TV, the internet, and from other interruptions. Many times your children will be fully engaged in walking or riding and you will have a moment’s peace. Literally be gone from the house, so you can be GONE mentally and emotionally, too.

Retire to Silence
If all of the above just doesn’t work for you, ask an older child, your spouse, or one of your teenagers to be responsible for the younger children while you go to your bedroom or the home office and spend just a few moments (meaning approximately 20 minutes) alone working on a project. Shut the door, ignore the phone, and focus.

It is good for them to respect you. In turn, you can let them have their own time alone when you will not interrupt them for practicing the piano, setting the table, or putting away their laundry. Just have them tell you they are disappearing from the world for a minute, in other words, being GONE. When you give them that space, they will also be more willing to give you some space, too.

Having Delayed Response Disorder is not wrong or bad; it just a part of life. Gain some time each day to be GONE and you will find it easier to here, available and ready to answer questions, settle disputes, and make comments the rest of the time.

©2010 Marie Calder Ricks/www.houseoforder.com

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