Welcome to another Flying Bumblebee chat, this time with the lovely Laura Rutherford who kindly agreed to share her top tips and experiences of planning family holidays when you have a child with additional needs.
Laura is a very successful parent blogger in the SEN world (and beyond!) with a large online following. Laura shares her experiences of family life with her 2 children, including Brody who has an undiagnosed condition resulting in global developmental delay.
Laura also writes for Huffington Post, Firefly, Autism Awareness, Mumsnet, Scope and many others. She is at the forefront of the Changing Places campaign – recently getting her ‘Pants Down’ on a busy London Street to raise awareness for the campaign! Laura also now works for the PAMIS charity as a Changing Places Campaign Co-Ordinator.
So I was delighted when Laura agreed to answer a few questions on her own family holiday experiences!
Where was your very first holiday with Brody? How did you feel beforehand and was it how you expected?
Our first holiday with Brody was to Essex when he was one. It was before we knew that he had disabilities, although I had a gut feeling as he was very delayed. It was really quite stressful as he vomited a lot and had sensory issues. Before we even knew that sensory issues existed with other children, it was really hard to explain to others why Brody behaved the way he did.
Do you ever find it difficult to get the balance right between finding a holiday which is both suitable for you as a family of 4 but can also meet Brody’s needs?
We found a place that is just right for us a few years ago and we have been going back ever since. It isn’t perfect, but I think it’s about as close to perfect as we can find. It’s a few hours drive away from home and close to a beach, which Brody loves. It’s also close to several soft play venues and farm parks, which are really quiet so it’s lovely as it gives us the opportunity to let Brody explore without it being too busy. It also has wifi, which is essential!
Don’t get me wrong, it’s far from easy. We have to remove lots of breakable items as soon as we arrive and can’t let our guard down at all. The path to the beach is also gravel and a slope, which isn’t easy with a wheelchair. But on the whole it’s brilliant for us.
What are your top requirements when searching for holidays and how much luck do you have finding these?!
I think we will stick with where we go for now, but location is important. Not too far away from home incase something goes wrong and so the kids don’t lose patience in the car. Somewhere not too busy is also important to us.
WiFi is a must. Brody is up really early and without it, especially when not at home, it’s really hard to entertain him at 5am.
3 essential items for a family holiday or day out?!
iPad and WiFi
What reassurances would you offer families considering their first holiday with a child with an additional need?
Don’t put pressure on yourself for it to be a perfect holiday. Holidays are hard work, regardless of how smoothly they go. When you’ve not got your home comforts and things that make life easier, like stairgates and specialist beds, it isn’t straight forward. Also, remember people never post the photos of their children up at the crack of dawn or having a moment. Life is never like someone’s Facebook photo album or status. Do what works for your family.
And finally……For you all as a family, “Holiday Happiness is……?”
Everyone smiling at the same time! (and those blissful few hours when they go to bed and you get to put your knackered feet up!)
Laura also gave me permission to include these pictures of her cuties Brody and Sydney, showing why holidays are worth all the hard work and planning!
Great advice from Laura, and a reassurance to all parents working hard to make sure family life runs as smoothly and happily as possible. So true that Facebook is not a reflection of real life!
I think that when you become parents the words Holidays+Relaxation don’t tend to be included in the same sentence anymore, and it takes a while to adjust to that. When you begin to realise that it’s more about Holidays=Happy Times (hopefully…), and that the Relaxation part will come back in the distant future; you can focus on planning whatever is right for your family and making some special memories.
That little bit more thought has to go into your plans if you have a child with additional needs, and it’s really helpful to lean on other parents walking the same path for reassurance and tips. As Laura describes, it can sometimes be easier to be at home (our house is the only truly Emily-proofed place!), but if you can find somewhere that is right for your family and your needs, it’s really important to remember that you’re a family first and to seek out those places.
Hop on over to Laura’s blog and social media links to find out more about her lovely family and be inspired by her reflections on parenting a child with additional needs.
Thank you Laura!