If you’re anything like myself, summertime can mean a whole slew of things, especially when adjusting to your new normal; specifically Autism for my family, but I’m sure all caregivers can relate when I say, gone are the days of tan lines, itty bitty bikinis, booze cruises, late nights, and sleeping in. Hello SPF 400, early mornings, cold coffee (in a bad way, not like the cool commercial chain way), strategically packing a surplus of beach supplies into a small crate, (did that one toy make it to the beach, your child never plays with, but insist on having while traveling?), only to have your toddler want to return to the rental and watch reruns of Peppa Pig within minutes. On top of ensuring everyone in the family has filled up on water to stay hydrated and out of the emergency room, did I mention Peppa Pig? It can be agony, and downright hectic the entire time you’re supposed to be “on vacation,” trying to hold it together for your fam-bam, but I assure you…. the juice is worth the squeeze.
After we finalize our destination, I immediately jump into planner mode. Typically, we fancy places we are familiar with, and can drive to. For one; my anxiety, as of now, will not allow me to travel/fly abroad with my two toddlers. Something I am opening up to, more so than before, but it’s still a hard “no,” for me. Two; flights ain’t cheap, and my son requires breaks during long hours of stimulation (much easier to do on the road opposed to miles high in the air). A few of my favorite sites on Instagram that help alleviate the stress of planning engaging toddler oriented activities include; @coffeeandspitup, @busytoddler, @recycleandplay, @littleoneslearn, and @inspiremyplay. These accounts allow me to tailor activities that will fit my son’s and my daughter’s needs. I highly suggest you find accounts relatable to your everyday life, and incorporate them to your daily/weekly routine. It can make life a little bit sweeter.
My prep work doesn’t stop with the kids. Several weeks before our big day, I try and prep my family and extended family on what they can expect. Not just on tiny beings running around, but more specifically on my son. Echolalia, Stimming, Outbursts, Meltdowns, Early, early rises, just to name a few. It can be a lot of energy in one room for people, and I rather have them prepared, than caught off guard. I break this down for my son as well. Preparing him for routine changes, what to expect when we get to our destination, expectations, different faces in our “home,” this and that, and a whole itinerary of things. It works for us. I understand this won’t work for everyone, and that’s okay, again, I encourage you to have a trial and error process with your special being. It will make your trip that much more enjoyable. You may not give a second thought to your toddler walking up the beach path to a new, open playing area. However, my son needs to be coached and have a timeline of what to expect when we get to the new, open play area. Sadly it can all end in catastrophe if we as his parents do not take the necessary precautions.
In the end, remember to have FUN!!! Even the strictest planner knows that it is okay to veer off the “list,” every now and then, learn how to go with the flow. Enjoy every moment you have with your littles. Get down on their level and see the world through a different lens. Will you need a vacation after your vacation? YES! Will you get one? More than likely not…. pull yourself together, practice a quick self care act, and just be. It is exhausting and rewarding all at the same time, but in the end, it will all be apart of a family chapter that you can look back on and reminisce. *I am not affiliated with any of the above accounts mentioned earlier. I believe in sharing good quality information that can help all caregivers.* Let’s chat soon! ❤