Saturday 20th February
We’ve learnt the value of taking advantage of respite care for Alice. At first we were resistant, because it felt a bit strange, but we have come to really value the ‘magic’ of respite!
On our last day of half-term, we have booked a day respite for Alice. She goes to our friend Louise. It’s really home from home for Alice, because Louise is such close friend. The good thing is Louise makes sure Alice has the same rules and boundaries.
It has made respite a really lovely time for both Alice and us. It means we are not worrying about her at all while she is away because we know she is in safe hands. It’s not always been this way. Our first experience of respite was very different when our previous agency matched us with a very inexperienced couple. Alice was treated with everything she wanted for the whole time – meaning that she often came back and would quickly misbehave, recounting all the things she was allowed to have and do while she was away!!
We take the opportunity to take Annie and Lauren out to a restaurant for brunch. To be honest it’s really nice to go out for a meal without all the controlling behaviour from Alice. We can sit and enjoy the food without any tears or tantrums. It’s funny though, because although we’ve really needed this break, the conversation soon turns to the missing person from the family. Respite gives us both a physical break and a mental break for a few hours, but we always miss Alice. It does the job!
We then made the most of the rest of the day, we went for a walk in the countryside – something we used to take for granted but now very much appreciate when we get the opportunity. It is something that is pretty difficult with Alice in her wheelchair. We did not realise how inaccessible places are until we had Alice. It really has opened our eyes up to the world that physically disabled people face every day.
We then head home, consumed our body weight in sweets, curl up under blankets and watch a film as a family. This is also a vital time for our own children, for them to process and talk through how they are feeling about fostering, or life in general. We try and encourage them to be honest with us, reassuring them that their thoughts and feelings are so important to us. It is interesting, and encouraging, how through these conversations they articulate their love and concerns for their foster sister.
And so we clock-watch until our missing family member returns. Respite has worked it’s magic yet again!
A Less Ordinary Family