Thoughts Regarding Life with Several Children with Disabilities
- When you have several people in your family, (ours has 6 at home,) put names on toothbrushes. They are only available in so many colors…
- Taking multiple pills is easier if they are placed in a little plastic cup. Using a hand is not always the safest way to guarantee they will all get into the mouth. (Before I discovered this, I was finding pills here, there and everywhere, especially between the couch cushions.)
- Keep extra pills and a bottle of water in your car in case you are delayed and a child would miss a dose.
- Even though it might be easier, do not schedule doctor’s appointments at the same time for more than one child. I have learned that there is a direct correlation between the difficulties to be discussed about one child with the doctor and the misbehavior of the other child. I also usually take the child with the appointment out to eat afterwards for some “quality time”. This seems to encourage good behavior at the doctor’s.
- Don’t stress out over things that are unimportant in the scheme of things. I try to clean house, but rarely have time to do a great job. I don’t care. I try to have a nice, family meal every night, but only succeed three or four nights a week. I don’t care. I try to dress my children nicely for the holidays, but they invariably pull the new clothes off to wear more comfortable ones. I don’t care. The house is not filthy and neither are the kids, and the kids are not starving or overweight. My expectations are low so I am always pleased to meet them. If I am able to exceed my expectations, I am thrilled beyond belief.
- Find time for yourself and your significant other (if you have one.) This relationship must be nurtured if he/she is expected to nurture the children. Stressed out parents affect patience levels. My children have always had a bedtime of 9:00 pm regardless of age. They can watch tv, talk on their cell phones, read or do schoolwork, but quiet time in our house is observed at 9:00 pm. This guarantees quiet time for the parents.
- Take a few days off without the children. Again, the parental relationship needs to be primary. The statistics of divorce among families with children with disabilities is staggering. I work hard at not being that statistic. Going away without the children takes a great deal of planning, but the reward is a stress free weekend. With my family, this is also costly because I need to arrange and pay for supervision for 3 separate children. Again, it is less costly than divorce.
- I make sure the children pick up the dog poop in the backyard BEFORE I rake the leaves. (I didn’t do this once and boy was I sorry!!!)
- I drive a mini-van with 4 bucket seats and a back bench seats. This leaves 3 separate bucket seats so the children don’t have to sit directly next to each other and each one has a window seat. Rides have been quieter since I bought this car.
- We try to live within our means financially. No costly trips to restaurants. No plays, concerts or other costly entertainment. I buy clothes at 2nd hand stores and grocery store brand food. It is stressful enough worrying about the children without adding financial worry.
- You cannot yell at a deaf child. They will just shut their eyes and they cannot see you signing the angry words!
I find the humor and happiness in life: watching my daughter who is deaf in her dance class with a big grin on her face, joking with my son who has dissociative identity disorder that he needs to check with “his people” before he makes a decision, watching my 17 year old son with Aspergers when he is holding a wriggling snake and describing everything you’d ever want to know about it, and watching my husband cook supper with my daughter. She used to be a very picky eater, but now she eats everything she helps cook. Who knew?