Its that time of year again when school is winding down and my children are getting excited about the end of the school term and holidays. For weeks now I have been asked “what are we doing in the holidays mummy?” or ‘Can we do this mummy?” and we are not even at half term yet!!!
So far I have tried to not think about what having the children home for six weeks will mean but today I am facing facts.
The six week holidays for us in previous years has been long and boring and arduous.
- No routine – This can spell disaster. Anxiety, excitement, boredom all kick in
- Food bills escalate – all parents wether they have disabled children or not must find this one of the biggest effects of school holidays
- Trips out – unless throughly planned down to the last second can turn from fun to excruciating in seconds
- Holidays – planning and packing with the children about….enough said
- Car journeys – these are always the worse. Short trips I can get away with long journeys only if necessary
- Holidaying on the doorstep – We use to go camping outside of Norfolk until a few years back. Camping on the doorstep where we can go home if we needed to or fetch something we forgot seemed such a better idea.
- Sibling rivalry – In one word OUCH. The children can argue about everything and anything. It can drive me up the wall to the point of tears.
- Money is another difficult part of the school holidays. Trips out, holidays they all cost money. Even a seemingly free trip to the beach can cost over £5 plus diesel getting there due to parking costs.
School days are easy the children know what they are doing where they are going and so on…. school holidays are a whole different kettle of fish.
This year we decided to go to Scotland with the caravan in the Easter holidays….. But our daughter with ADD, Anxiety suspected ASD, Sensorineural hearing loss and OCD was not coping with the planning. She started to check the weather at every available moment. I would put my phone down and it would go missing. She would keep repeating when are we going? when are we coming back? What if I don’t like it? What about my things I need mummy?
You see I had only given her a months notice that we were going and with the added issue of memory loss she was basically just freaking out. She was becoming Anxious and at one point worrying so much it was affecting her sleep. So we felt that we had to move the Scotland holiday until July. This has given us an extra 3 months in which to prepare her for a week somewhere away from home and to get use to the idea. We talk about the holiday all the time and have maps prepared and marked so she can see where we are going.
On a test run at the bank holiday weekend we went for three nights just down the road. Literally the next village from where we are!! Two seconds from the Grandparents house. I am not kidding that girl had more luggage then her Dad, Me and three siblings put together. What I found worked though at keeping the anxiety levels down was letting her pack her own bags. This helped her to cope with the fact we were going away from the home. She had a limit of two bags well ok three by the time she had convinced me of what she really needed to take. Items included
- Teddy who she literally can not sleep without
- Story Massage book
- fairy book – we read a chapter every night after medication
- colouring items
- crochet bag
- some other books
- other assortment of toys that she promised would not get in the way
- own pillow, sheet, quilt
- two other cushions that she sleeps with
- certain pjs that she had to have
- Her clothes
By the time we had finished near enough her whole bedroom was in the caravan. Thank goodness for a fixed bunk bed and a 6 berth van.
The weekend went well so I have high hopes for the actual week spent in Scotland….Maybe!!!
The night time routine was the hardest aspect. Luckily we shopped around before buying a caravan and made sure it had black out blinds to help with this. In our older vans we use to black out the widows using any means necessary including bin bags taped to the windows. We try to keep to the bedtime routine we use at home so that she has that continuity. Its difficult and there are downsides to camping but to what extent do you allow disabilities to encroach into family life. I hope when my children look back in years to come they realise on some level that everything i do and try to do is to maintain as normal a life of them as possible. Holidays abroad I must admit is not something i have considered doing as yet. The girls ask about going on a plane but for now I am just happy to try and show them what Britain has to offer. Even if its just a campsite a mile from home. Distance is not the be all its the family time spent together that really matters and the memories you make.
So our Scottish holiday entails the trip up there to start with. For that we will do what we did at christmas when we travelled to Yorkshire. I made all of my girls a snack bag up. Items included
The bags were an instant hit and kept their hands busy for the majority of the trip there and back. Tip Tap was a game I remember playing in the back of the car as a child…. a very annoying game that can quickly escalate. Not something I want to experience as a parent 🙂
We also played eye spy, count the red cars and count the white vans. I sat in the rear with my daughter’s. That was an experience but one I felt was worth it. My ADD daughter loved that I was sitting with her and her sisters loved it even more because even when medicated she can turn a small crowded space in to battle ground. I was there with her keeping her calm and relaxed. I was able to use Story massage with her to keep her entertained and the calmer environment meant that Dad could concentrate better on the road and that her sisters didn’t all become stressed out as well. Plus I was able to divide my time between the four of them without craning my neck from the front seat.
After 5 hours on the road I can honestly say I was shattered. The constant entertaining and answering questions and singing meant that I really needed a break once we got there so straight away they went for a walk to burn of the excess energy. That week turned out to be a good week. With everything she needed our daughter mostly had a good time though she was very glad when we started to head home. The floods in York happened the week we were there and she was very scared that we would get trapped by the flood water and not get home. At the time we had a 4 x 4 which went some way to helping with her fear. Its not until you are away from home I think that you really get a sense of how scary having any sort of disability can be.
All I can do is hope for the best. I don’t want the children to miss out on going to new places and doing new things because of their disabilities. It just takes more planning and preparation and being to a degree able to change certain aspects at a drop the hat. We shall see….
x Leanne x