If like me, you’re on your own for the duration with children who want to be entertained but have different needs it’s hard work!
It’s lovely to spend time with ‘the kids’ but it’s tough (and can be expensive) trying to keep everyone happy, so planning (and adult company) helps with sanity and making those long days that bit easier!
There are plenty of options for the 31 days you are with them (excluding weekends!). If they need the company of other children, School Holiday Clubs are fantastic, along with sports clubs, theatre groups, even Lego clubs; and you may also need a day to yourself to do all the exciting things like ironing, cleaning and washing, or to just have five minutes – I don’t think parents should feel guilty for needing a bit of alone time!
I’ve heard mums and dads talking about taking the kids to soft play, and maybe having a cuppa or a chat with a friend, or the cinema keeps them entertained for a few hours. The playground is a good cheap option if the weather’s OK – they play while you watch. All of the above I can do with James, and so far he’s been to Sundown Adventure Land, played at home with friends or played at their houses; he’s had water fights and days in the paddling pool: he’s been to the beach in the town centre, to an outdoor pool, to a football match, ten-pin bowling, playgrounds, Ninja Warrior assault course… we’ve done a lot! I like going out and about and doing things and seeing people and keeping busy.
The difficulty is in keeping Matthew entertained. He comes to all the things we do, and he loves being out and about, but he gets bored because he can’t do what James can. I try to include him as much as I can, but it’s so hard. Matthew can’t run around with friends at the playground, jump in and out of the paddling pool, have a friend over to play; he can’t even go and get his toys to play with and decide for himself what he wants to do, or where he wants to go.
Matthew wants to have fun and explore like his brother, but he can’t and gets fed up. Staying at home with him is hard because he doesn’t want to do the same things with me all the time. There are no holiday clubs and groups he can go to – I’m sure if I called any club and explained that my child uses a wheelchair and they would have to help feed him and change nappies they’d say no, and I’m not ready to have that conversation.
I’ve sat him with his feet in the paddling pool; I’ve taken him around an assault course (to watch), I’ve helped him push the balls down the ramp at bowling. I do as much as I can, but I’m only human, and he’s getting big. My back aches permanently, and I get tired.
I see other parents with school-age children, sitting in a pub garden having a drink while the kids are running around having fun; watching them run in and out of the paddling pool on hot days, laughing and splashing, getting excited about a day out and seeing friends, or taking them to play at a friend’s house so they can have a bit of a rest.
I wish that Matthew could join in the summer fun.
I wish I could watch him joining in and not have him need me to do everything with him.
I wish that I could watch both my children getting excited about going on holiday, or the promise of ice cream, or jumping in the pool and see them growing and becoming more independent.
It’s all about creating those childhood memories, whether it’s something small you do at home one day or a big day out with friends.
We’ve had fun so far (no matter how tired I am), and there have been lots of smiles and laughs from me and the boys, and apart from him getting grumpy because he’s bored and can’t tell me what he wants, Matthew has enjoyed himself most days.
I hope I can cope without a break for the next month and maintain my enthusiasm! I’d love there to be some lazy pyjama days or take him to a friend’s house to play or go to the cinema, but I can’t do that with Matthew.
Wishing me, and all the other parents like me, the best of luck – together, we’ve got this!
Going to Footprints helps us both, so if (like me) you’re a worrier with a child that has additional needs, do get in touch – they empower parents and give them the support they need too.
Footprints Conductive Education Centre is a small charity based in Nottingham.
They make such a difference to the lives of children with disabilities AND their parents and families – it really is life-transforming. If you are a company seeking to support a local charity making a difference in the local community, please get in touch. They need £200,000 every year to help families like mine.
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