Our summer holidays just started here in England, six weeks off for the kids. I envy the families that can just enjoy each day as it comes, those that just do whatever they please and whenever they please. For us, yes we generally have a good time off but it comes at a cost – endless work to make sure we get it right. Choosing what to do, where to go, is it safe, can the kids escape, is water involved….. We risk assess everything! We have to or a simple day out can end in disaster. I have friends that can sit their kids in the car at a seconds thought and off they go to a theme park, a zoo or the beach. We do these things but they are rarely spontaneous. Routine is key with Eliza but she can, at times, be flexible if a small change suddenly happens and in particular if it is something that catches her attention and interest. For a day out I have visual planning to do, checking out locations of all toilet facilities, all exits and how to get to them, areas that she can bolt and escape. Looking up places she will eat at, packing a bag full of essentials – pull ups, wipes, juice cup, iPad, spare clothes. Creating, printing, laminating and sticking up visuals as needed and working on social stories and making sure she fully understands what is happening and when. Before we even leave the house I am sure I have worked towards this day out at least half a day.
We live a life surrounded by P’s…… PLANNING (so that all should run smoothly and nothing is missed), PREPARATION (visual aids for Eliza, social stories, explanations) and PRAYING (that it all goes well and the first two P’s were worth it). Without it we would end up with a highly anxious, super stressed Eliza as well as a miserable Noah who will be upset because his sister is. We would also have parents with the headache from hell that have most likely wrestled at least one child in to the car for their own safety and attempted to calm the situation and stop the child running in to danger. It’s bloody hard work, you never get to switch off because you can’t. You have a child that NEEDS this planning and preparation so anxiety stays low, they stay safe and have a great day. You have a child that has NO DANGER AWARENESS whatsoever, so all this extra work is a must to ensure that everyone has a great time and everyone leaves together happy and well. You have a child that somehow manages to blend in among other children whilst you hold your breath hoping she is coping because she seems to be smiling and enjoys herself in the situation she hates the most, BEING SOCIAL. The funniest thing is she normally has a blast and loves the day whilst as a parent you feel you just performed a military style operation just so she can have that day and you are exhausted.
Yes I envy those that can just do things without a second thought, no care in the world but we can do the same and it just means a little extra work but if it makes sure we all have a great (safe) day out then so be it. We just need those P’s. We must plan and prepare and I am pretty sure most of us end up praying. Perhaps there should be a fourth ‘P’ involved – PROUD (because it’s worth celebrating when all that hard work pays off).