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May The Force Be With You

· family,respite,holidays,special needs

I recently spoke with a friend of mine who also has a daughter with special needs. We don’t get the opportunity to hang out often as our schedules are dominated with specialist appointments, therapy sessions, and follow-up phone calls or emails to schools and funding applications. We usually do our annual exchange of conversations while driving our children to and from, and soon enough we land on the million dollar question…

“Are you ready for the holidays?”

I am jealous that some of you may feel like this for the winter break...

However if you are a parent of a child with special needs you might feel like me...

As I come to a line of waiting cars in the left-hand turning lane, I am thankful that I have a few more minutes to catch up with my friend. We drop a simultaneous “f-bomb” as we are constantly faced with the realization that we are living in a starkly different world than most other parents (Oops, did my kids hear that?).

The holidays are an exciting time of year but for families who have children with special needs, it can be particularly stressful. I stress about disrupted schedules, sensory systems going into overdrive, and possible meltdowns in public (for Bella or me). Often, holidays are the furthest thing from the most wonderful time of the year for special needs families.

So what has helped me get through the holidays? As stubborn as I am, I have to owe this one to my husband. Between the two of us, he is the more patient one. He will always take the time to pause and reflect to help make the situation easier. He is my saving grace as he always helps us find a balance in our marriage and family.

You’re right Peter...

Jokes aside, I am thankful for Peter's persistence. Peter has made it his mission for us to travel once a year as he believes it is good practice for me to cope with changes of routine (yup, I said it… it’s me, not Bella). For the past few years our family has been fortunate enough to travel to Florida to visit Peter’s parents. My mother and father in-law are Canadian snowbirds who live the retired life spending the cold winters under the sun and palm trees. They graciously make their home our Florida-home. They ensure that Bella has an area equipped with a table for her to spin and bang her brushes, a place for her iPad and schedule board, and even her own room with a custom built bed for her to sleep safely in.

As hard as it is, learning to let go of routine has helped me learn to smile. Here is one of my favourite pictures from last year’s trip to Florida. I often look at this picture as it reminds me to be in the moment of now. Just before I took this picture, I clearly remember my mother-in-law telling me to go sit down, as this was her way of telling me that it was okay to relax.

#Views #LetGo #YesICan

So my advice to families with children who have special needs, instead of approaching the holidays with dread and trepidation, know that there is joy in this mayhem. Try to approach the holidays with positivity. The unexpected may happily surprise you!

Merry Christmas to all my #MomBehindTheLabel readers!

May the force be with you this holiday season.

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