Tag Archives: dressing

Holiday Take-Homes

Shake things upHolidays are a good time to shake it up. Normal routine is out. Normal sleeping is out. Normal food is out. So with all this disruption, when could be a better time to jolt our children to greater independence? You take more of a holiday. Let them work.

You deserve a rest. You have more time because, presumably, you’re relaxing as a family. So don’t hurry. You don’t have anywhere to be. Use the time as a slow opportunity to solve ongoing problems/issues that you don’t always have time to address. Start the day by letting them get their own breakfast.

We first did this a while back now with our daughter at the buffet breakfast area of the hotel in which we were staying. She enjoyed the adventure. First the juice – bring it back to the table. Next the cereal – back to table. Eggs and toast – table. Then pastries. We did, breakfast pastrieshowever, quickly realise we didn’t just need to show her how to get breakfast, we needed to also teach her restraint and healthy eating. We aimed for a reasonably healthy breakfast, whereas without guidance she went for the less healthy more sugar option.

After a week of this, when we came home we tried letting her make her own breakfast. We put the cereal out, and a bowl and spoon. Except for school days she has always got up before anyone in the house. So when we came down on weekends we found the scattered remains of breakfast. Bowl on the table, the dirty spoon next to it. Crumbs on the bench and a puddle of milk next to that. We realised then this was going to take a little practice and patience.

We also did some practical things to help her: we bought a small carton of milk. She was still a junior school then, and so a large carton of milk was too heavy for her to control as she poured. This is probably the way to go for all children without a lot of core strength, or even having a pre-poured small jug of milk left in the fridge with just the right amount in.

Another thing we perfected while on holiday was getting dressed. There’s ample time and plenty of opportunities as we change from clothes to swimming trunks and back again. It’s also a chance to teach modesty if your child is not as aware as you would like them to be.

Maybe if you’re camping there’s a chance to learn to ride a bike. Balance issues is often a challenge for children with additional needs. I, or should I say my daughter and I because it was a marathon for her too, spent many hours teaching her to ride. Follow the link for our download explaining the steps we went through to solve this. Learning to ride sometimes takes time and perseverance.

On holiday are other skills older children/young adults can develop too. Going to reception if you’re in a hotel and asking for more towels for example. I think that hotels are a relatively safe environment to let my children wander to experience being away from us alone, but that is your call. Independence can’t happen without us letting go to some degree.

If that’s a bit more than what you feel they are ready for, going across to the café for a cold drink while under your watchful eye from the pool might not be. This could be their chance to stroll , get distracted, take forever so whatever they’re buying for you is cold by the time they arrive back – perhaps it’s better to ask for juice rather than coffee.

But seriously though, holidays are a good time to practice independence skills. You aren’t in a rush. Sometimes we do more than we should, and on holiday could be a good testing ground to see what we can stop doing for them, because we aren’t trying to get out of the door by 3 minutes past 8. The benefits of them developing greater independence skills are for the whole family. Other children won’t feel a sibling is being given more attention. You will have more time.  Your child will feel just that little bit more independent, more grown up. In Breaking Bad Habits I talked about the habit loop. We all get stuck in our habit loops, so let’s use holidays as a chance to break some of them. Good luck!

To easy the stress of the travel, Vicki in this week’s podcast Happy Holidays gives useful suggestions on how to cope.  Vicki is a travel consultant, as well as a mother to a child with additional needs.

What To Wear?

Confession time: I once had a denim jacket with Status Quo on the back. Bad enough? Even worse if you add a centre parting in long hair with cowboy boots. Yes we head-banged to Ozzy Osbourne’s Black Sabbath, and thought we looked cool doing it. Roll on Wayne’s World!

Despite my still occasional relapse of things that should never be worn together at Glastonbury (when I’m lucky enough to get tickets), I look more like the rest of the human race for the most part now.

Sometimes, as Elika Gibbs teased out of Debra in this week’s podcast Finding Fashion That Works, my youngest daughter has a similar look as me at roughly the same age. She likes band T shirts, but hers look better on her because black goes well with red hair.

This ‘thrown together’ look is so now according to Elika. My eldest daughter told me the other day that sweatpants are in fashion, and you can even wear them with heels. If that isn’t a thrown together look I don’t know what is because I would’ve taken it for a mismatch. I would have thought this came from the Homer Simpson school of fashion.

Elika talked about her daughter being on-trend with this thrown together look because it is also happens to be her style. Elika says in her professional life that she tries to encourage her clients to wear what is essentially them – not somebody else’s fashion. She steers them to bring out the best in their individual looks. But she also talked about what happens when this thrown together look passes, and something else becomes the fashion.

Of course being on trend can work out well too. Let me give you an example, a  couple of weeks ago we were in a shopping centre and my oldest daughter spotted a giraffe print top. Immediately my youngest wanted to buy it, for no other reason than giraffes are her favourite animal ever. Me being a fashion expert pulled a strange face as if to ask are you sure; my eldest daughter, our house fashionista, informed me animal tops are very on trend. After I was put back in my box,  I must admit it looked really good on her with denim shorts of all things.

While this worked, and my daughter is on trend at the moment, I still wonder if one day she will be left, with her band T shirts, looking as though she has bad fashion sense. This is where it gets tricky. Elika mentioned a look-book, where she takes photos of her clients so they know which clothes go together because even her fashion conscious clients sometimes manage to get it wrong.

I think the look-book sounds particularly good for young people with additional needs because it gives them the freedom (aka independence) to choose what they are going to wear, but with the subtle guidance of having had the clothes evaluated beforehand. This may sound like controlling rather than giving independence, but if Elika’s clients pay for this advice and they are more likely to be on-trend than either me or my youngest daughter, why shouldn’t we use a look-book? We need all the help we can get.

As a father I don’t want my daughter to stand out for the wrong reasons. If she looks odd, people will give her peculiar looks. If they stare at her, this will add to her feeling that the whole world constantly judges her, which isn’t what I want. I want people to look at her for the right reasons. I don’t want the confidence we try to instil in her to be ebbed away because she looks so different from everyone else, because the thrown together look won’t always be on trend.

The point I’m making is I’m not a fashion expert, so no one should wear my fashion ideas. The point Elika makes is that while this thrown together trend is current, it will pass. She wants to give her daughter the tools and strategies to move with fashion, and I think this is one of those hidden lessons on the road to independence we must give our children too. It is a skill many of us including myself don’t have, and I don’t want my daughter standing out for the wrong reasons.


In Practical Princess Perfect Wardrobe Elika Gibbs shares the secrets of her unique three-step process to wardrobe organisation.


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