Taking a therapy break doesn’t have to be scary
By the time I’d been a mother for four years, my two boys had received more diagnoses than I had fingers on my hands. And before I knew it, my life revolved around therapies and appointments for both boys. When I wasn’t taking the kids to an appointment, I was researching what else I could be doing to help them. Would another type of therapy or specialist be the answer?
I was struggling with anxiety and depression, but I kept on, determined to do everything in my power to help my boys.
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One early summer day my husband suggested we take the boys on a vacation to the beach. Inside I cringed. It sounded terrible. I envisioned chasing two little boys, ages two and four, both with speech and gross motor delays and sensory processing disorder around a beach. Oh yeah, and they both freak out if they get water in their faces. Did my dear husband realize there’d be a lot of water to get in little faces at the beach and the pool? Meltdown city.
Plus, that meant we’d be missing two weeks of appointments. I could only imagine the regression if we missed that many appointments. But my husband convinced me that we deserved a break, that the kids would have fun, it’d be good to get away, and reluctantly I agreed to take a therapy break.
And to my surprise, it was a glorious vacation!
The boys had a blast. Sure, we still experienced a few meltdowns, but we also saw a lot of excitement on those little faces. My older son who was terrified of water, was by the end of our vacation jumping into the pool into his daddy’s arms. My two-year-old son added three words to his sparse vocabulary. He even learned to accept water splashed into his face without a meltdown, huge victories in our book. Huge.
My husband and I marveled at the excitement. We hadn’t experienced such joy in a long time. We savored the opportunity to enjoy our family, the progress our children were making with all the hard work and the never-ending therapies we were doing. out therapy break allowed us to enjoy our time to just rest and be a family.
Why It’s Good for Your Child to Get A Therapy Break
Everybody needs a break. Our children are no exception. They have to work hard to learn to do what comes naturally to most children, and they deserve a break from all that hard work. They need an opportunity to enjoy their childhood and to have times to rest too. Now I’m not saying therapy isn’t enjoyable, my boys have fun and look forward to their appointments, but I’m saying sometimes it’s just nice to have a day (or several!) at home without any appointments. Or have the time to visit a favorite place or go on vacation.
Farmers give their fields a break and don’t plant anything in them every couple of years, to give the soil time to rest and regain nutrients. Giving our children the same opportunities, to rest and to use the things they have been learning without working hard to learn new things, will be fruitful for them too. Once we started taking therapy breaks from time to time, I actually noticed a boost in their progress. It’s like having a chance for your kids to rest gives their brains and bodies a chance to integrate all they’ve been learning and to enable them to learn and experience new things on their own.
Why It’s Good for You To Get A Therapy Break
Let’s face it, as women and mothers of children with special needs, our lives and our schedules are full. Juggling homeschooling, housework, errands, appointments, and general childcare can be outright overwhelming. It’s not uncommon for parents of children with special needs to have stress as high as combat soldiers. Always on alert; always running from one therapy to the next. We’re always feeling like we’re not doing enough, and that is not good for your physical, mental or emotional health.
I used to think that taking breaks from therapy made me feel selfish, like it would benefit me more than the kids, that they would regress without the breaks and so to be a good mom I had to take them to their appointments. But what makes you a good mom is simply loving your kids. Spending time with them. Giving them new opportunities to explore and experience the world.
Taking a break is not selfish, it is essential for your own health and wellbeing so that you can be the best mother you can be.
Why It’s Good For Other Family Members to Get A Therapy Break
Not only will your special needs child benefit from having a rest from therapies, but your other children who attend the appointments with you will enjoy having a break from the therapy-filled scheduled and the time spent in waiting rooms.
It will also be good for your marriage to have a little more time to focus on rest, family, and time with your husband, instead of focusing on appointments and how life fits around them.
Oh, and an awesome bonus of therapy breaks is you’ll save some money on therapy expenses.
How to Make Therapy Breaks Happen
First of all, evaluate all the therapies you are doing and stop doing the ones that are not truly helping your child. This could be a decision to stop doing a particular therapy altogether that is not helping your child. Or it could be to take a break from it for a few weeks. For example, we weren’t seeing any improvement in my older son’s gross motor skills. Even after doing physical therapy for a while, so we decided to take the summer off from physical therapy.
That freed us up an appointment a week to have some summer fun of our own. In fact, during that summer he finally started jumping with his feet together (at the beach, jumping onto his sandcastle) and climbing a ladder on his own (at a playground, after watching other kids do it). Returning to physical therapy in the fall, the therapist was so proud of his progress. She was able to work with him on new skills.
Secondly, look at a time you and your family could use a therapy break.
Summers are usually the best time to get away on a vacation. It allows you to determine whether to take a few weeks off of therapy and enjoy a time of no schooling and no appointments.
The holidays are another time to take a break. This is especially true because holidays can easily become stressful times and therapy clinics are closed on holidays anyway. You can decide to take an extra few days or even weeks off of therapy around the holidays so you can enjoy them more. We usually only do therapies the first two weeks in December. After that, we take off until New Years, freeing us to travel or simply enjoy holiday festivities together.
As a homeschooling family, you can choose to take a therapy break when other children are in school. This gives you an opportunity to take a quiet family vacation.
Also, if you have lots of things going on in a particular season, that is a time to stop doing therapy for a while without guilt. Family emergencies, moving, surgeries, or new babies are excellent times to take off several weeks off. Focus on your family during that stressful season.
Repeat after me, it is good to take a break from therapies from time to time! It is good for my child(ren). It is good for me. And I’m an awesome mom whether we’re at a therapy appointment, resting at home, or out experiencing the world. 🙂
About the Author
Jenn Soehnlin is the mother of two boys who both have special needs and who are both precious blessings. When she’s not busy taking her lads to yet another appointment, she can be found snuggling with her boys (hubby included), curled up with a good book, enjoying a walk through nature, or at a coffee shop writing and blogging at www.embracing.life. If you’re a Christian mama, sign-up to Embracing This Special Life and get some encouraging faith-based freebies for special needs moms.
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