Category: Emotional Resilience

Just Like Me

I have always taught Bella to include other children in her play ever since she could talk. If she see’s another child who is alone, then I encourage her to make contact. She knows the line “Hi my name is Bella, whats yours? Do you want to play?” I also do this to give her confidence which she will build on as she grows up.

I don’t have any siblings so when I was young and we were away on a family holiday, my parents would say “Right, off you go, you have 24 hours to make a friend.” They weren’t being mean, they were encouraging me to get out there and meet people. I didn’t have ready made friends to play with in the form of a brother or sister and I was sometimes shy as a youngster. It felt awkward at first but it did help grow my confidence. I’ve never been short of friends and I’ve always been able to talk to anyone at work or in a social setting. So as shy as I was, thanks Mum and Dad for the lesson, it serves me well now.

This skill set is also valuable when we are out and about and see other families who’s children have additional needs and disabilities. During the hot weather of the summer break, we have been to a number of parks with splash pools and in a recent visit my Mum and I took Bella and Freddie out. Most often we are the only family there with a child with SN. This time though I saw another Mum with her two children, one neurotypical and the other in a wheelchair. I thought, bloody hell she is brave coming out here alone. She has got way more guts than me. I could see people staring at the family and her discomfort. I felt it too. It stings. You so want to blend in but you just don’t.

I wasn’t sure what to do. My heart wanted to go over and talk to her but I wasn’t sure if she would want me to. Lets face it, it depends on how your day has been so far doesn’t it? I asked Bella to go over to the little girl and see if she wanted to play. I told her that I could see her Mummy needed to focus on her brother just for the time being so it would be nice for her to have some fun. Off she trotted and they played together. Freddie didn’t really want to get in the water this time and was happy playing ball with my Mum. So, I decided to take the chance and go over. I’m so glad I did. She said how uncomfortable she felt, knowing people were staring. I offered to help and just be there. What a lovely Mum. We chatted a little and I watched her little girl with Bella whilst they found somewhere to change. Sometime just having that little bit of support from someone else who understands can give you a boost.

So, if you see another parent struggling and perhaps you don’t have a child with Special Needs but you do know how good it feels to have a friend with you, go over and say hi. We don’t bite.

That little skill of being able to go up to a stranger and make a connection is so important. It helps make the world go round. I know I have always been grateful when another parent has seen me. I mean, really seen me, with compassion, and they haven’t been afraid to talk.

 

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Parental Burnout

I’ve been listening to loads of Podcasts lately whilst running and walking my dog and a common thread which resonates so much with me is that of Parental Burnout. One Podcast I listened to said this Burnout is at epidemic levels. I can personally relate to this so much and I speak to many, many fellow SN parents who are also at the point of Burnout. I have so much I want to do with my mind, for me, work, my family and my own interests but often my body just isn’t physically able to let me do it. I have the most free time in the evening once the children have gone to bed but it’s when I’m at my most tired. I’m sure you often feel the same.

I have become much better at managing this on a continuous basis because the times when I wasn’t (for which there have been many) once I reached the tipping point, I couldn’t get the balance back. It takes focus and practice. As parents, especially as parents of children with additional needs, we have so much on our plate. There is more of us being given out than there is coming in. You can’t walk away and you can’t sustain living at the level of Burnout indefinitely. When your child has additional needs/disabilities it is common, as will be the case for us, to be the parent and carer for the child’s whole life. I used to think that I’d have children, they would grow and go to college or Uni or go travelling and then have a life of their own. Once they were independent, we would do so much with our lives again. I am always determined not to allow disability to define us or stifle us in what we want to do with our lives but I am also realistic that what I had envisioned, will likely not be our reality. Balance is therefore essential for this long-term role I find myself in.

The ways that I have worked at getting a balance back, to allow me to re-charge both physically and mentally are varied. Running has been a huge change for me this year and has made a big overall impact. It gives me time away to have silence or listen to a Podcast, Audiobook or music that isn’t Peppa Pig. It has taken me until this year to realise that the times when I cope the least well are when I have no time for me during the day. You know the kind when you can’t even go for a wee on your own. The past three summer holidays in particular, after having Jago, have been crazy busy and I was genuinely on my knees by the end of them. I decided to take charge of the situation this year. The fabulous Grandmas are helping us out hugely again and I have even got the odd totally child free day to re-charge. With Ollie’s work schedule so manic during the summer, I also took the decision to pay for the occasional days respite. Last week the lovely Emily came and although this time I didn’t leave the children in her care, she helped me take them to the Cinema. Something I just couldn’t do alone. Freddie needs constant attention during the film and that coupled with the number of times Jago required a wee break, none of us would have seen any of the film. Bella got to see the whole thing through. She loves films just like me and Ollie. It was like having two of me but with one they all actually listen to. Hurrah. I also got to walk the dog and do half an hours work whilst she was with us. The best bit is that they all love her and Freddie trusts her. After she had gone, Freddie said “It was nice Emily come to our house. I love that.” For so many of us, it is such a challenge to find someone who is unflappable, especially with your child’s additional needs and someone who is trustworthy, kind, trained and ‘happy’ to do personal care. I’m incredibly grateful.

The SEN Tribe Challenge

My challenge to you is, I want you to list five things you do to keep the balance for you. Plus, two extra things you want to be doing for you, which you will work on weaving into your life over the next six months.

If you are at total burnout stage and are genuinely not doing anything for you, I get that, I’ve totally been there and for quite some time too. In this case, I want you to list three things you want for you, time to read, physical exercise, time out with friends, date night, taking up a new hobby. You could get stuck in to some adult colouring therapy. I saw these ones which cracked me up. Calm The F*ck Down, A Sweary Adult Colouring Book or A Swear Word Colouring Book For Adults. You might want to start watching a new box set or go to the cinema regularly, getting physical help in the home or talking more to parental peers for support, whatever it is. Write down three things you are going to work on making a part of your life over the next 12 moths.

 

That might sound like a really long time but I had a list of ten things to improve my life, balance and way of coping and it took me five years to finally tick off the last one. Physical Exercise. I only started running this year. It takes time and you need brain space to make it happen and it’s a continuous practice but you can absolutely make it happen with a little determination and the help of a good diary to schedule things in.

Email me at aimeemannmentoring@gmail.com or reply to this thread with your lists. It helps to share and give each other ideas for things we can do.

Good Luck. xx

 

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Special Education V Mainstream. The School Report.

The end of term brings the school report.

Freddie and Bella’s both came home in their school bags today. They are poles apart in style and length. This is Bella’s first one and focusses on her reading, writing, maths and science skills plus all her likes, dislikes and personal skills including communication, physical development and social and emotional development. It’s quite comprehensive for a five-year old.

As I was reading through I was immensely proud of how well she has settled into school and it is heartwarming to know that although she was pretty nervous about things in the beginning, she has grown in confidence. At the start of the year, she was a little apprehensive about what the other children would say about Freddie. Would they ask why he was different, would they want to know why he didn’t go to their school, how would she explain things? We had some really grown up conversations last September in order to prepare her and build her resilience. As it happens, unless she hasn’t told me, no-one has asked anything yet. At least nothing of major significance. She was already friends with half her class, many of whom have grown up always knowing Freddie. The rest just haven’t asked. I know one day she will be faced with uncomfortable questions but I have tried to give her the tools in her ‘language’ and at her level of understanding, to help her respond with confidence and courage. Taking all of that into account plus the challenges we often experience at home and my concerns over how she is dealing with them, her report was fantastic. It’s given me confidence that all the talking we do is paying off. Her report said that she is developing compassion and compromise (i don’t see much compromise our end mind you), an exceptionally caring attitude towards others and can be relied upon to involve others. Inclusivity is a really important aspect of life for us and it was amazing to read that she carries this through in her approach to others too.

The report did also say that she ‘occasionally attempts to teach the adults a few things along the way’ which just made me crack up. That’s my girl. ‘Strong willed’ was another description of her personality. I just don’t know where she gets it from???

It’s hard not to compare the two reports. It’s hard not to read Bella’s and wonder what Freddie’s would have said if he was just leaving mainstream year 2 and if he didn’t have a severe learning disability. As the years go on I am able to compare less but it still stings at times.

The days before they started to annoy each other. They were still best buds here. 

Freddie can’t write his name, only the first letter and can’t read or write but he has bags of personality. His report said that he is a popular member of the class. We all want to be popular, right? He has improved in all areas of self-help (not too sure we are seeing this element in its full glory at home mind you) and he LOVES ball games and PE. He meets all challenges with enthusiasm and strength.

Even with all he contends with and all the challenges he faces, he still has enthusiasm and strength. Wow. 

They said he has a wonderful nature and a fantastic sense of humour. He does. He really does. His teacher said he has grown in confidence and she is sure his transition to upper school will be successful.

Considering how things could be and considering all of his special needs, he is a total trooper and his personality shines through. It’s unlikely we will receive a school report detailing his academic achievements but our main goal is for him to be happy, content, have some independence as he grows and have a purpose in life. I’m feeling confident that he will excel in these areas. I’ve always believed anything is possible and this is how I will continue.

Before children, I thought we would have the typical life. Get married, have children, watch them grow, go to Uni or straight to work or maybe travel. Then we would travel more and perhaps help out our children and maybe even their children. Bella and Jago will no doubt follow a path similar to how we imagined but Freddie won’t. It’s not always easy to accept but ‘it is what it is’ and whatever our children, all three of our children, achieve along the way I know we will be proud. As long as they are happy and having as much fun as possible along the way, it’s really all I ask for. xx

 

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7 Things I’ve Learnt From My 7 Year Old.

7 things I’ve learnt from my 7 year old.

Freddie has recently turned 7 and I’ve been reflecting on what a 7 years it has been. I’ve learnt so much more than I could ever have anticipated during this all-consuming, heartbreaking, joyful, overwhelming and love like no other time.

1. A wealth of knowledge. Considering I haven’t trained to be a Doctor, I have been asked more than once if I have a medical background by the medical professional I am seeing. I know more medical terms and information than I ever thought possible without actually being a doctor. All very interesting but I have to be honest, I wish for the most part, I didn’t know all of this.

2. How to communicate with family, friends and strangers with compassion, rather than anger. Both about our situation and in response to their, often misguided or insensitive, comments. This is a big one, not just for me but for so many families I know living in the SEN world. I’ve come to the conclusion that most people are good and kind. Most people don’t mean to upset you when they stare at your child. They are often just interested but can’t take their eyes away quick enough whilst their brain processes what they see. Many of the older generation don’t intentionally mean to use totally inappropriate language and ‘labels’. They use what they know from the era they grew up in. Most of the challenge here comes from a lack of education around these subjects. I see it as my ‘job’ to educate everyone on Freddie’s needs and this brings acceptance and inclusion rather than staring and fear.

3. Patience in the bucket load. For someone who is and always has been notoriously impatient this has been a very steep learning curve for me. I’ve had to learn patience in abundance. I’ve still not totally mastered the art but I’m better than I ever thought Iwould be. I’ve needed patience with myself, Freddie, life, the system and so much more. It’s an ongoing practice which I try to master daily.

4. People are kinder than you think. Most people want to help in any little way possible. Often they don’t know what to say or what questions to ask. They feel silly and unsure of your reaction. That old saying ‘It takes a village to raise a child’ is totally correct in my world. If you are feeling alone, vulnerable and isolated then just those few simple words ‘please can you help me’ often bring great reward. It takes courage to ask for help, I know. It might just be for something small but it might help you out hugely. Not everyone can help with everything but some people can help with some things. Those people might be friends, family or professionals. Give it a try.

5. You can meet some truly incredible people. This is certainly true for me. If I lived in ‘Plan A’ in a ‘mainstream’ world only, there are so many amazing people I would never have met. So many inspirational and kind people who I wouldn’t have the pleasure of knowing. So, for this I am grateful.

6. I am more powerful than I ever thought possible. This is you too. Eight years ago when looking into my future and the plans I had, I would never have believed how upside down my world would turn or how powerful and empowered I would become. I have had to get to total rock bottom before coming up and I still have those times when I feel broken but mostly I am up. I would never have imagined advocating for another human being in the way I do for Freddie and for the rest of my family. I would never have imagined I would set up a mentoring business to support other parents just like me. Building this tribe of empowered SEN parents is amazing and I love how far people can go with the right skills and mind-set. I never would have believed that after having Freddie and all the heartbreak and stress that I would think it was a good idea to have another two children. These three decisions have been three of my best.

7. Love. A love like no other. All parents out there will confirm, I’m sure, that they would lay themselves down under a truck if it would save their child. They would do anything for them. This is absolutely the case for me. Even when they are driving up the wall and back down again. As a SEN parent though, there is something even more primeval about it. I think it is because many of our SEN children can’t advocate for themselves, they are vulnerable and need support forever. The fear is real and the desire to give my all to Freddie and helping him achieve his absolute best is unmovable in me.

I love my husband and my three beautiful children more than anything. I’ve learnt such a huge amount in such a short space of time. I only hope I’ve got the capacity to learn more as Freddie grows and finally work out how to do fractions, tricky maths equations and English homework as Bella and Jago grow up. xx

 

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When You Have To Admit You Are A Family With Special Needs.

This might seem a weird thing to say. Especially when it is clear that Freddie has Special Needs. I’ve always known this, even in the early days of denial. Of course I have. This is different though. This was the moment I realised that Ollie and I and Bella and Jago also have additional needs which require support.

Our needs are not due to a disability but they are as a result of Freddie’s.

Up until now, everything I have been working towards has been focussed on advocating for Freddie. Getting him everything he needs in order to fulfil his potential and happiness. Advocating for him is something I will always do. I have also been working  hard on  my resilience the past few years, in order to keep going and thinking about how to support Jago and Bella as they grow. That that isn’t enough anymore.

I’m not shy in asking family and trusted friends for help or a favour but this is the next level up. We have always coped well in most areas but life is changing. Things are supposed to get easier as your children grow but we are in some respects, finding the opposite. I am having to change my viewpoint on how we are coping. Physically it is getting more challenging for me and for Ollie too to some degree. Plus, I admit I get freaked out at the thought of taking all three somewhere, like the park, on my own. To the point where, I rarely do. It’s hard work with the extra support that Freddie needs. I see other Mum’s out there with their three children  and feel like a bit of a failure that I don’t do that with ease. However, the Mum’s I’m looking at, in general have three neuro-typical children in tow, so I try not to beat myself up for it.  I’m getting better at it as Bella and Jago are becoming older and more self-sufficient so that’s a positive.

We are also tied to time with Freddie’s school drop off each day. This impacts what out of school activities Bella can do and those which Jago will want to do. The Mummy guilt always steps in here. I am doing enough for each child? With thanks to a good friend, Bella gets to go to gymnastics once a week so the pressure is off for a little while. What happens as she gets older and wants to do more? Weekends are a challenge with Ollie’s work schedule and Freddie being at his most tired and challenging on a Saturday.

All these little things that seemed a normal part of family life (in my vision of what I thought it would look like) I used to take for granted. The things about raising children that never occurred to me are starting to show up.

These are just a couple of small examples of the challenges of wanting to and trying to run a typical home when the family has additional needs. They are minor when read in isolation but add those to all the challenges on a daily basis, both physically and emotionally, including all the meetings/therapy/behaviour challenges/paperwork/organising etc it all gets so overwhelming.

I have always been determined not to allow Freddie’s disability to define me or us as a family and this is a belief I still hold. What I’ve realised though, is that in order to keep to that way of living as closely as possible, we need help. We are not a typical family. Freddie needs a PA, he needs respite and we need respite. Bella and Jago need respite. We need it booked in and organised. I need more physical help when Ollie is working the incredibly busy summer season at work. I don’t do failure very well and I’ve always had the determination that I can achieve anything. These wobbly times have been rocking that belief a little. I haven’t liked it. I also don’t do being out of control very well. So, with the things I can no longer cope with, I’m taking control in another way. Admitting we need support and going and getting it before it gets too bad. It hasn’t been easy to admit I can’t cope. It’s taken being close to breaking point and ‘encouragement’ from my family and friends little by little to get sorted.

Note to self: don’t be so stubborn and take more of my own advice.

xx

 

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Bella Is My Superhero

My children surprise me all the time. They infuriate me, drive me bananas, make me laugh, swear and cry but I love them all with all my heart.

Even during the toughest times, there can be shards of light. 
The past few weeks/months have been, at times, totally exhausting and mentally draining for me and Ollie. We have been at breaking point often.
Freddie has been experiencing some challenging behaviour, pretty close to what looks like a panic attack. Other times, he is just screaming blue murder. Most mornings and most evenings. He never does this at school and rarely in front of anyone else. We can be with friends and they don’t see it and he doesn’t do it to his Grandmas. This is a huge positive but also frustrating that no-one really sees what we deal with.
We are taking to school, our GP, Skybound and a specialist Paediatrician to see what we can do to help him. And us.
However, a really big concern of ours is how it all affects Bella and Jago. It takes time away from them. It causes friction and upset in the house and makes us all very tired. Jago is too young to understand what’s going on but these things still affect little ones. Bella on the other hand is only five years old but understands so much more. She says such grown-up things at times that I wonder where she gets them from?

Her words often cause me to silently cry whilst we have our last cuddle at night. I don’t want her to know I’m hurting but the tears just come. Sometimes through sadness and sometimes because of words which are bitter sweet. A couple of weeks ago, after a particularly bad evening, she said “Mummy, I wish Freddie’s brain hadn’t been injured before he was born. Then he wouldn’t scream so much.” Me too. It nearly broke me hearing those words. Her understanding was key. She is so knowing.

We have had some other pretty upsetting conversations about how she is feeling but I’m always grateful we are close enough that she can talk to me. These lines of communication are essential. I hope this will be the same state for Jago as he grows.

You remember I said at the start, “Even during the toughest times, there can be shards of light.” Well, last night we had one of those bright moments.
Freddie was having what appeared to be (most likely was) a panic attack and I was flying solo for bed time. It was horrific but Bella was amazing and Jago too.
After it was all over, Ollie was home and Freddie was calm and happy, we had our last cuddles of the day.
I told Bella what a wonderful sister and daughter she is. How much I appreciated her help and how much I love her. We talked a little and she said “Mummy, I know I can always count on you.” I responded with “Of course. Always and forever.” And then she said “And you know you can always count on me don’t you Mummy? And Daddy and Freddie and Jago. Oh and Teddington, they can all count on me too.”  What an amazing, sweet and brilliant little girl.

Siblings of children with special needs have it tougher than those without, for so many reasons. They struggle with their emotions and feelings but hopefully with the right support we get through it together.
Bella is my Superhero.

Taking Little Bits Of Imperfect Action.

This past week has taken a more positive path for all of us in the Mann Household. Sometimes you need to get to breaking point with overwhelm and let it all out to enable you to start again.

I have finally got myself started with running, using the trainers I bought recently. Having been hit by a car, as a pedestrian, when I was 17, I’m always really nervous of causing more injury to my already dodgy back. Hence why I’ve always rejected the idea of running.  However, with the encouragement and slight ‘peer pressure’ from friends (you know who you are), I have started slowly with a Couch to 5k. I’ve completed my second go and I’m feeling pretty good about it. My bum muscles really knew about it this week mind you. Ouch. Biggest muscle, most pain. No cardio exercise for about 15 years would explain why I was in so much pain after running for only eight minutes in total. It can only get better from here, right? Teddington couldn’t work out what I was doing? It’s like the children’s faces when I get the ironing board out. “What’s that Mummy?”

I need more energy to continue with the pressures I have and more strength to continue to physically support Freddie. Plus, I want to know I’m doing something practical to do my best to live as long as I can for Freddie and my other two. He is going to need me for a very long time.

I’ve taken action, albeit little bits of random action, to make some changes in lots of areas this week. Including getting some support for us with Freddie in managing some of his challenges. Talking it through with friends and having a couple of coaching sessions myself to work through some if the areas of overwhelm. I’ve got a better plan in place for the interim now.

Here is to getting through the next two weeks Easter Holiday unscathed.

 

 

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When You Teach Your Child A New Swear Word!

By mid week of half term this week, I was totally and utterly mentally exhausted and had massive auditory overload. I think my name had already been said/whined about 6k times. None of them listen to anything I say. By the 8th time of “Please sit down and eat your tea” or “Please take your shoes off” or “Please get out of the bath” or “Get off your sister” or “Give it back to your brother” (you get the picture) I was pretty much loosing it.

To top it off, I’ve managed to ‘teach’ Bella to say bloody. In context. 😬 The words uttered were “Argh, this bloody Lego.”  as a half built something went crashing across the floor. Parenting WIN. Yay, go me. Oh dear! Hangs head in shame.

I wish I was one of those Earth mothers who got the whole week right, beautiful activities suitable for each child and nothing but fun and laughter. The kind who takes photos of their food maybe, for Facebook, or who always signs off with #soblessed. Come on! This is the real world. This is my real world of three children, one with special needs. Laughing, fighting, whining (A LOT), cuddles, tears (occasionally mine) and fun.

There are some fantastic, funny and lovely times but honestly, some moments are just soooooo hard. So hard in fact I decided to read a book I’ve had on my shelf for a little while The Yes Brain Child by Dr Daniel J. Siegel and Dr Tina Payne Bryson. I realised, as I was going through the book, that some of the techniques discussed are tactics I use mostly with Bella and actually for myself in prep for stressful situations, often pretty successfully. However, by Wednesday, I wasn’t in the right positive/resourceful state to access that knowledge in the moment so I had a total parenting fail. The whole day at every turn.
After Wednesday’s diabolical morning, I decided to get straight and start again. I tried the Yes Brain technique with Jago and bingo. It worked. I doubt it will work every time but by the end of this week I am feeling far more in control of myself and able to parent better. Sometimes life just gets a bit overwhelming there for a moment doesn’t it?

The great bits of this week. Bella learning to ride her bike and Freddie being able to participate in this regular family activity. Going to the theatre with friends to see The Ginger Bread Man and the smiles on the children’s faces. A very lovely friend taking time to check in with me, recognising  I was overloaded.
Seeing how pleased my grandparents were to spend a little time with the children. Taking Freddie to a friends party and seeing how much he truly enjoyed himself and how pleased his friends were to see him. It really made my heart swell. He cracked me up at the end. No inhibitions about asking if there was a party bag. Little monkey. I had a really great time with him.  Plus, Jago has taken to calling me ‘Queen Mummy’, got to love a Mummy’s boy. Big bonus at the end of the week, Ollie and I get to have Friday night curry and wine with good friends and the children on a sleepover at Gogoos to give us a nights respite.

Don’t you just love it when you take about ten photos and still can’t get all three to look at the camera and smile. 

Phew. A nice dog walk in between helps to clear the mind. Five minutes meditation in the shower with the door locked each morning and Prosecco. These things all help.

I love my spirited and challenging children. Must try harder to be calmer though. Lack of sleep doesn’t help. Think I might go to one of those strange gyms each week in the run up to the summer holidays where you can just sleep for an hour to prep myself.

Just having written down the good things that have happened this week has made it feel a lot better. If you are having a tough day, write down the good things that have happened and those things you are grateful for. It gives me great clarity.

I hope everyone has got through their half term in one piece. xx

 

P.S.

If you purchase anything via the links with Amazon in my blog posts, I receive a small commission at NO added cost to you. This just helps me a little to maintain the website and continue to provide useful and empowering resources for parents and carers of children with special needs and disabilities. Thank you. x

It’s Almost Impossible To Escape

October is a really shitty month for me. A difficult, sad and stressful month. The 23rd October brings around again the anniversary of my Dad dying, followed by his birthday on the 24th. A double whammy.

When I’m talking about Emotional Resilience, on here, Facebook or at my workshops, I am usually referencing it with regard to having a child with Special Needs. However, something I share is that it is also something I have been practicing in other areas of my life. Often that resilience is needed to cope with the big life events like watching your father die and at other times it’s dealing with smaller situations or perhaps how you allow others to make you feel.

Nine years on and in many ways, it doesn’t feel any easier. I’m not sure it ever will. However, I know the signs better now and have strategies to see me through. I arrived home from school drop off and walking the dog on wednesday morning. Ollie just knew, straight away, that I was crumbling. I hadn’t really been thinking about Dad or feeling sad but suddenly the swirl of emotion started to bubble up from deep inside. I totally believe having a god cry is essential. Let it all out and start again. Although, I hate crying because honestly, I don’t look or feel good for it. I’m one of those red, blotchy, puffy frog eye types of criers. Not attractive and requires multiple re-applications of make-up to look reasonable.

 

Can’t resist a cheesy 1980’s moustache & psychedelic shorts photo. Me and my Dad at the Duxford Air Show.

Within the Getting Your Voice Heard Workshops, I talk about getting into the right state to cope with upcoming events/meetings etc. Within that practice is understanding that we experience life with all of our senses – taste, sight, touch, smell and sound. This is also how we remember our experiences. That’s often why you will smell a fragrance and be reminded of a loved one or perhaps, like me, the smell of Skips reminds you of the time you ate too many as a child and vomited. Never ate them again I can assure you.

This is what was happening to me. Unfortunately my senses weren’t allowing me to get into a positive state this time. The whole month of October was spent going to and from the hospice on a daily basis. Everything about the month of October reminds me and takes me back to that point. Walking the dog, how the air smells, the mostly sunny days, dew on the grass, cool in the evening, conkers on the floor and the light of the day, the rapidly approaching decay of life and of season into Winter. It’s almost impossible to escape it.

So, although I am often taken by surprise, I am more aware and prepared for it. I advance book to see my Osteo, one of the only ways I can release the tension build up. I spend time with Ollie and the children because apart from the fact that I love them, it’s almost impossible to have two minutes to myself to get caught up in how I’m feeling. I have failed slightly this week but I’m conscious of getting an early night. Everything is so much harder to cope with when sleep deprived. I take big doses of vitamins,  try to eat well (on top of the chocolate for comfort) and drink more water. Seeing friends for Prosecco also seems to help. Who knew? Getting the balance of distraction and rest is key for me.

This is how I cope when I’m dealing with more stressful times with Freddie too, which is why we talk about all of these things to understand what emotional resilience is and why we need it.

The past few weeks have also required me to try to impart some of this to my four year old, Bella, as she started school this September. New environment, new friendship circles, new rules – new everything. It’s mostly extremely positive and exciting so far but unfortunately, there has been an older child who has been ‘picking on’ Bella and her classmates. Nothing particularly serious but a little daunting non the less when you are only four years old. We have talked about how she can handle it and what course of action to take. I too have, of course, raised it with her teacher. I hope I’m giving her the right tools to deal with it, especially if at any point it becomes more serious. Something I am incredibly mindful of though is that children and adults for that matter, rarely act out unless they are struggling. Perhaps the child is unhappy, worried or fearful about something and feels more in control when behaving in this way? Who knows? What I do know is that the child needs compassion and support. The earlier it is spotted and worked through, the better for everyone. I also know how I would feel if it was my child behaving in this way. I would be gutted. It’s possible for any child to start acting out for a whole variety of reasons. I’m conscious that being the sibling of a child with special needs brings with it many emotions and challenges. I can only do my best to give her the resilience tools she needs and hope for the best. If she was ‘picking on’ others I would hope for compassion towards her and to me as her mum until it could be resolved.

Emotional resilience is always a good thing to practice. We are human and humans suffer at times. We need compassion and ways to cope so that we can enjoy life during the fantastic times.

Keep an eye out for the next set of dates in November for both Getting Your Voice Heard – How to be a Velvet Bulldozer and Emotional Resilience – The Ebb & Flow of a Special Needs Parent, in conjunction with Entrust Care Partnership.

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