You may wonder why so much was made of AJ’s weekend in the Blue Mountains. This was part of our greater plan to take care of her needs as a sibling to someone with a disability. I think many parents struggle with balancing family life when one child has special needs. It is difficult to ensure siblings don’t miss out.
I have always been acutely aware of how much time and energy goes into our son BJ. The assistance he needs with daily living skills, simply requires more of our time.
AJ is a great sibling and quietly accepts most things. Rarely does she make a fuss or complain and if she does, we know she has really reached her patience limit.
Due to the seven year age gap I was able to give her my full attention when she was younger as BJ was at school. It became more difficult to find that time when she started school. For the first few years I would let her have a day off once a term to do something special with me. A quick explanation to her teachers and they were fine with her having the time off. I think it often gave the teacher a greater insight into her life which was beneficial.
Just taking a day off school was exciting by itself even without anything else being planned. How we spent that day varied greatly. I would give her a few options and it was sometimes as simple as staying in pyjamas all day, playing board games and doing art and craft. Other days we would go to a place that was not accessible with a wheelchair or somewhere that BJ wouldn’t like.
Now that she is in the later stages of primary school I don’t feel I can take her out of school each term but she still has the odd day.
Going to the Blue Mountains for a night with her best friend was a huge success. She is extremely lucky to have a friend who also has a brother with Cerebral Palsy so there is a great understanding between them.
The weekend was structured so the two days were filled with things she would like, or, could not normally do if we were taking into consideration travelling with a wheelchair.
We started the weekend doing a bush walk which is not wheelchair accessible. I have always wanted to take AJ on the Wentworth Falls walk. The girls enjoyed it and I learnt that using ramps with the wheelchair has meant that my calf muscles don’t get a work out. I must do something about that.
The Fairmont Resort is accessible but it was nice for AJ to have someone her own age to participate with in all the resort activities. BJ could not manage the playroom for example and those things are always more fun with company.
The weekend consisted of many indulgences, afternoon tea at The Gingerbread House Café, a very elegant high tea at Lilianfels Resort, manicures at Spa Sublime and a lovely hand massage at iKou in Leura Mall.
You don’t have to spend a lot of money to make someone feel special. Just one of these things on their own would have achieved the same result. Showing that you know what they love to do is the most important thing.
AJ has very fond memories of days spent in pyjamas playing games and this costs nothing.
It is about spending time with your other child/children, giving them your undivided attention, letting them know that they are special and their needs are important too.
I’d love to hear what others do to take care of their special person.
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