Today is a Teacher Training Day for Alice and Lauren. Unfortunately schools do not co-ordinate in our area so Annie has to go to school. I have to say she was not impressed having to get up at 7am while Charlie (his day off), Lauren and Alice stayed in bed. I got up with her, tried to cheer her on and gave her an extra snack to try to appease the situation. Not sure it really worked but she appreciated the sentiment.
We are off on holiday tomorrow so it gives me chance to get packed. I enlist the help of Alice and Lauren – not that they really wanted to be involved, but I hate doing it all on my own. Charlie makes himself ‘useful’ by decimating the kitchen, using every pan and cooking implement possible, in an impromptu decision to make Millionaire’s shortbread for our holiday! However, this does have the unintended benefit of having him not involved in the packing of clothes – he has an interesting understanding of the word ‘folding’.
This holiday is going to be a bit different. We are having some respite for a few days starting tomorrow. So we have told Alice she is having two holidays – but I am not sure she is convinced! We are meeting our friend and respite carer, Louise, at the services on the motorway in the morning. Alice will spend a few days with her while we start our holiday in Devon. We will then meet her during the week half way and Alice will join us for the second half of the week.
I have to admit that although we all need a break it does feel weird. Annie and Lauren definitely need a few days with just Charlie and I. We need a few lazy days to recuperate. It has been a challenging few months – moving house, new schools, new friends, new job for Charlie – it has been exhausting. Although Alice is very much a part of our family, we include her in everything, and there are times when we can be limited in the things we can do because of her additional needs. We can’t just walk to the beach. We can’t decide to have a lie in. We can’t really do anything spontaneously. We plan everything around Alice and around getting up at a certain time to do her catheter and give medication. Going out has to be planned carefully or we can all be left disappointed when we can’t access something due to things being inaccessible due to her wheelchair. We have to think ahead about where we will be able to change Alice’s catheter when we are out. So putting the feelings of guilt aside I pack Alice’s two bags – one for respite, one for our holiday. I carefully count out her nappies, wipes and supplies and measure out her various medicines for the week.
Our friend Louise is great because she provides Alice with a home from home – the same rules and boundaries, but able to provide her with some quality one to one time. We will be able to go away and know that Alice is being cared for just as we would care for her. As a child in foster care, Alice is unable to enjoy the benefits we take for granted in many of our families – such as staying with a favourite Auntie, or family friend, and being treated. Such experiences are proven to support and validate the family unit, when used appropriately, and part of a overall healthy family structure. Respite care is a wonderful chance to provide Alice with a form of this wider support network. We hope that the few days apart will remind us of why we are doing what we are doing and give us the opportunity for rest and relaxation, and a chance for Alice to feel further loved and supported in life.
A Less Ordinary Family Blog