Supermum, yes I’ve heard that so many times. ‘I don’t know how you do it’ or ‘special kids for special parents’. But I’m not Supermum, in fact I’m far from it. I’m exhausted, I’m stressed and I’m far too bloody emotional.
I‘m going to admit it, I’m really struggling with the school holidays, and we’re only just starting week three here.
The school holidays mean something very different to me and a lot of other Special Needs parents out there.
The school holidays mean stress, exhaustion, chaos, tears, anxiety. More so that our usual day to day struggles.
For us there are no lazy mornings or sofa days. Our days start even earlier in the holidays due to the change in routine, this past week have been 4am starts plus the usual three or four times waking in the night and I’ll admit I’m absolutely exhausted.
I’m loving having the extra time with my gorgeous boy but it’s not easy. The lack of sleep makes the demands more intense. It’s relentless when your child needs one to one attention for their own safety and challenging behaviours. When you can’t leave the room for a minute without the furniture getting destroyed or them hurting themselves.
Last week I was sat in an appointment with the Behavioural Psychologist and balled my eyes out. I definitely didn’t feel like Supermum then. I felt like a total failure actually telling him I was struggling to cope.
The solution from the Psychologist is get out into open spaces and let him burn off his energy somewhere safe, away from other children. We do that so often, just me, Archie and the dog out walking & running wild but it’s not solved our problems. A child with autism and sensory processing difficulties needs more than just a field to run around in.
And what do you do when it’s raining and your child has severe sensory problems with water, I struggle to even get him out of the house without a major meltdown so going out walking just isn’t an option. Neither is going somewhere like soft play. It’s just too much for him. Again, he goes into sensory overload, lashing out at noisy children, hitting & kicking. I do my best to keep control of him, going into the soft play with him but he’s just so fast and I’m not the ideal height to weave in & out of the tunnels! Then the meltdowns continue at home and through the night, it’s just all too much for him.
The school holidays means a lot of the support is just taken away. I’m told I need to let Archie burn off steam in a safe environment but the local council stops all of the out of school activities for children with special needs. We normally go to a trampolining session for children with additional needs once a week, plus autism friendly sessions at the soft play centres, but in the school holidays it stops.
The only sports inclusion sessions that they do run for children with additional needs aren’t open to the general public. You have to be referred from Child Services and they are for children older than five, and with Archie being four that means again we’re not included.
We’re low on options as everywhere is busy. Everywhere is different. Bowling or the cinema just aren’t suitable, parks and play centres are too noisy or too busy, we need to go early in the morning & hope it’s quiet. I need to find a balance of keeping Archie busy & entertained but not to overwhelm or overexcite him as he just can’t control his own emotions and it’s just not fair to put him through it. It breaks my heart so see him so distraught over things we just take for granted.
As a special needs parent, I still have the masses of paperwork, the appointments and therapy sessions. I still have to work from home when I can as I still have a business to run. The difference in the holidays is that I don’t get a break, it’s 24 hours. I don’t even get a rest through the night but it is what it is.
I’m not Supermum, the holidays are downright hard. It takes a huge amount of planning, a huge amount of preparation and a huge amount of energy.
We’re getting through it day by day.
I’m not Supermum but I’m trying my best for my boy.