Podcast Episode 57 Days out and going on holiday is an important part of family life, but when a young person has additional needs they can be much more of a challenge. Continue reading
Podcast Episode 54. All around us are people working in their local communities to make the lives of young people with additional needs better. Continue reading
Holidays 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, however, 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.
It’s coming up to the summer holidays for us here in the UK and so holiday planning is in full swing. I’ve been listening to the Dave Ramsey Show podcast recently, and his golden rule about borrowing. He believes, ‘Cash is king, and being debt free has taken the place of a BMW as the status symbol of choice.’ And I know what he’d say about borrowing for holidays.
Those of you in North America might already know of Dave Ramsey. He has a syndicated talk back radio show in which he dispenses money advice. If you live in other parts of the world look for the ‘Dave Ramsey Show’ on iTunes or Stitcher. More often than not he berates his callers, My personal favourite ‘Are you sure you want to do that? That’s like inviting Murphy and his three cousins Broke, Desperate and Stupid to come live in your spare bedroom.’
I must admit in years gone by I’ve often invited Broke, Desperate and Stupid to live in my spare room. I did the wrong thing of drawing money out of our house mortgage to fund a family trip to Australia – my justification? the girls needed to see their mother’s homeland. But not anymore. Although I’d already started to come around to Dave’s way of thinking, even before I heard him he just helped confirm my on idiocy.
The problem I had, which maybe some of you can identify with is, wanting the holiday my income couldn’t afford. To quote Dave again I need to remember to ‘Act your wage.’ Off course I told myself it is for the greater good, that the family needs a break. That my daughter with additional needs deserves a fun holiday (which she does). But actually what she really deserves and needs more is a secure financial future.
My solution, not based on rational thought, was to take money from the mortgage or put it all on a credit card. But it’s at times like these I should have done the maths. I should have taken out the fact sheet they gave us when we signed up for the mortgage; that we skipped over because we just wanted to buy the house. That small print that tells me something like for every pound, dollar or euro your borrow, you will be paying back to the bank 2.4 times this. That would have reminded me that the 3,000 holiday was really going to cost me 7,000+ when I had fully paid it back.
I should have remembered that credit cards aren’t the answer either. Their annual interest rate is often close to 25%, which again adds extra charges to any holiday costs especially if I don’t manage to get it paid off in full very quickly.
The answer is, and thankfully I am ready to accept it now , to save gradually throughout the year. Budget. Do what my parents’ did. Put a set amount into a savings account depending on where we are planning to go so that when the time comes to book the holiday the money is there.
To be honest I have always believed in avoiding debt for anything other than to buy a home. But over time I started to ignored my inner voice telling me debt equals interest payments. I completely forgot that interest payments are money I am not able to use towards helping my family and especially safeguarding the future of my daughter with additional needs.
In the long run, I know that to give my daughter the best I can means looking after myself financially. Before I help others I have to help myself. As Dave tells me very week ‘Live like no else today, so you can live like no else tomorrow’.
I’m not suggesting for one moment that you or I cancel holidays already booked but I am suggesting that we should all think before we put holidays on debt. I need to think more before I act, to build long term financial security, so all the dreams I have for my daughter, with additional needs, to live an independent life are affordable dreams.
Podcast Episode 13. Holidays are a time to relax, rewind and recharge, but more often than not they end up being less about fun and more about stress.