Happy Labor Day to everyone! I hope that you had a wonderful holiday and you are feeling ready to start the full school year! Boom!! We planned a little mountain retreat for labor day with friends and celebrated my son's 14th birthday too. We are able to get to the mountains from our home in about 3.5 to 4 hours which makes for a nice weekend trip. But if you are traveling with someone with #specialneeds; especially someone that needs structure and routine, like #autism then getting away can have some special considerations that need to be made. As my son has gotten older his need for routine and structure has increased and in truth this holiday was a lot for my son. So what I wanted to share today was a little bit about our trip and the need for flexibility as a parent, especially as a parent of a special needs child.
Jack loves the pigeon books so we drove to the mountains for the weekend with some framily to have a hot dog birthday party for him. We spent time shopping in Asheville, NC on day one. I love Asheville. They have a really lovely downtown area with lots of fun artisan shops and AMAZING restaurants. Of course on this trip we didn't plan in advance and ended up just finding a little pick up place for lunch cause we just had to eat. LOL
It turned out to be a happy little accident because it was some really incredible Vietnamese food. If you have a picky eater sometimes just finding something that will work can be a challenge. This is the first step in being flexible - and finding solutions really. ALWAYS, always look for what will WORK. This little restaurant had poke bowls, banh mi, spring rolls, and other various Vietnamese deliciousness. None that as it appeared on the menu would have been anything my son would have eaten. But we needed to eat. Walking around with a group of 10 without a lunch plan was just not going to go well for long. So even though we were at an ethnic restaurant, and even though I needed to get creative, I looked for what would work on the menu for my son.
Ok - we like bread not rice - check, sandwich no bowls. We like chicken, not fish, not pork and not a lot of veggies. So literally I asked for a shredded chicken sandwich with carrots on it. LOL The carrots actually were a miss (there were just too many) and my son and I spent a few quick minutes scrapping some of them off the chicken but he ate the sandwich with a Sprite and all was right with the world.
This is a situation where I'm glad Jack is mostly pretty good natured and flexible too. If not this could have been a harder lunch. But the same strategy applies, find what works. If I had needed to I would have found another little spot and grabbed something special just for him. The real key to this is not creating anxiety with it. It's not needed. It is ok if you need to step out to take care of your needs, or your child's. Just be transparent and don't make it a big deal. The more calm you are, the more calm your child and others will be. And of course you could also actually plan ahead here and either bring whatever you know your child will eat (brown bag it) or make reservations in advance.
I bring this up because sometimes things happen and you need to remember that it doesn't always have to go smooth and perfectly planned. Life rarely goes according to plan anyway so learning how to be flexible and finding what will work is key to helping you out of those moments as easily as possible. And also to remind you that everyone forgets from time to time...and that is also ok. I am still a good mom even though I didn't know how lunch was going to go or plan for it. And truly - lunch was great.
Happy little accidents. Allow space for those, it makes life better.
That first night is when we actually had the hot dog party. There is a series of books by Mo Willems that my son really likes that features a pigeon. In one the pigeon finds a hot dog and he wanted a hot dog party for his birthday. So we started a fire and the kids cooked them up camping style, which was great. At the same time my partner put together a more elevated meal for the adults. This is just another example of being flexible y'all. It was ok that I stepped away and helped my son get his hot dog ready. It was ok that we didn't all sit down and eat dinner at the same time. It was ok that we just winged it and figured it out. The kid meal and the adult meal were fantastic and were followed up by cake, birthday candles, and presents. It was a great day.
Day two was equally fun but SOOOO stressful. We went to an apple festival that I don't think any of us were prepared for. There were lots of people. It was hot. It was crazy and the perfect environment to practice this let go flexible mindset that is so critical. My son enjoys being stimulated but this was a lot for everyone. We ended up needed to split off into groups because trying to keep up with everyone just wasn't practical. We had more options for food but it was very carnival/fair-style food. Again, something that went against our expectations that we just made work and laughed through. A few hours there and we were all ready to get back to the quiet of the house. This is something else to always keep in mind, don't force interaction all the time. We all got into the house and went our separate ways and took an hour or so to just decompress. And we all needed it. If we had tried to force conversations about dinner, or what should we do next, or even just trying to sit and watch TV it would have felt tense and stressful to many of our group. Just let people have their space. My tribe does this so good. I am so grateful.
We got through the rest of the weekend in much of the same way but got home much later than expected on Monday night. My son was supposed to be at school on Tuesday. Tuesday school just didn't happen y'all. He got in late, he had no time to readjust to being back in the house. He was tired, he was stress, he needed a mental health day. And that is what he was given. We stayed home in his jammies and spent the whole day in his room playing with his toys the way he likes. He watched videos on his tablet and made pictures the way he wanted. And you know what - Tuesday was a great day. And Wednesday, we went to school.
This is life right here. It's the random everyday situations that just come up. My family at this moment was able to remember to not fight the current. We were able to remember what really mattered and what is really important. I'm proud of our ability to do that even when there were for sure moments of stress. And because we made choices to engage like that our time together was way more fun. We look back on the weekend with positive memories and feelings, not negative. We all took a few minutes to consider life and then we were very much on purpose with living it.
How are you able to do this in your life? Share it below. Or share a time when maybe you couldn't but you can see how you might be able to in the future!
Don't forget guys this is all about remembering to make choices to live the life that is worth it. If you need some support in getting this going for you and your family be sure to set up an appointment for a free discovery session https://calendly.com/consider-jennifer/coaching-session and you can also follow me on FB, IG, YouTube, TikTok @considerjennifer