August 2, 2016

Summertime is not always fun


Dear Bloggers,

This is the time of year to make the whole Internet smell like coconut flavoured sunscreen. And campfire logs things that I associate with Summer. And of course the smell of fresh-mown grass.


It's like when you imagine the Internet will sparkle like fireflies and humming bees and butterflies in the garden. Stretch yourself out on your lawn, with that scratchy grass tickling the backs of your legs. Reading a book and fall asleep in the morning Sun.


The smell of grilled burgers on the back deck in the garden. The sound of kids playing in the pool. The sweet taste of a fresh mixed Mocktail, with cubes clinking against the glass on a sizzling summer afternoon.

These are vacation stories. We want to do some crazy roller coaster rides and our summer BBQs and our trips to museums and our lazy days in the garden. Maybe this are our best vacations as we are poor and having trouble to plan a day out. Hopefully one day life will surprise us, we just should not lose hope.


Tell me: Where have your best vacations taken you? Or kept you? Did you go far away, or stay right at home? What are your best vacation stories?
While the stereotypical summer vacation usually involves a caravan or a beach, the vacations most of us take are much less nostalgic and far more varied than that. Or even if there is a beach or a caravan, it’s not the one we see in movies or read in books. They are most of the time less romantic. Some of the best vacations, in fact, don’t involve packing or traveling at all; they happen in the backyard or on the front porch. I am telling you some of our best vacation stories, the ones where things didn’t turn out as expected, where plans changed and so did we. As I share what happened when we step away from every days business for vacation.


We probably won't be lazing away your summer by the pool, but with a little extra planning we'll still be able to create your own kind of magical summer memories.

Lazy days aren't really a thing
My favorite part of summer vacation is lazy days without a single plan in the world. In a perfect world, I would sleep in, enjoy a slow morning while the kids played and then we would all take off on a spontaneous adventure. Yes, did you picture that! The reality is that my daughter, thrives on structure and needs to know exactly what's going to happen throughout the day. And my spouse needs to know in advance what she can expect otherwise she is not capable to manage all the signals from everything around her. Lovely thing that is called PTSD. My other daughter is having a job and so that means our summer activities during vacation need to be planned as it is a school day. Sigh.


To keep things manageable but still fun, providing structured activities for our kid and my wife can reduce their stress and help us all get more from our summer vacation. A bit of organizing nut fun for all of us.
Therapies don't take breaks.

Most of us look forward to the break from the school year. When you're in my position it's a never ending story. There's a seemingly endless round of therapies, and none of them pause for the summer.



If anything, summer is sometimes more hectic than the school year because we have to fit all of these therapies in around those memory-building moments we're we loose track of what day of the week it is. Good luck we need for finding the energy to have a backyard camp out after a long week of shuttling from therapy to therapy! The good news is that often our kids are much less interested in new adventures than we are, and they don't mind taking it easy after a long day of therapies. They drop on the couch with a book or a cell phone.


It costs a fortune to get my wife the care she needs
I swear by my wife's equine therapies and she loves going to them, but they aren't cheap. Plus, she has to be taken there as she is not capable to travel on her own due to panic attacks; she requires special needs for a summer break and needs to be prepared to make it work, and all of these specialized therapies and going to camp out come with a price.


As much as we might want to take our family to exotic destinations or even to the lake for a long weekend, the money we spend on fuel and specialized therapies can leave us with nothing left to spend on summer fun. It's bitter when you work hard but you don't make enough to cover the costs.

Summer fun isn't so fun.
Most kids love going to water parks or play spaces, but for my wife these places can trigger sensory overload. Heat, noise and crowds are the biggest trigger hells, and that can leave us scrambling to fill these endless summer days. There are few places that appeal to kids and that don't get to crowded during the summer, so often we find ourselves spending more time at home (even though we'd really rather be out and about).


This is even more challenging when we have a neuro-typical kid, too. Balancing the needs of kids who are begging to go to the lake or the splash park is always a challenge when the same places they love create anxiety and fear in my spouse. There's no right or wrong answer, but it's easy to feel like we aren't meeting any one's needs during the summer.


Going on a trip is sometimes like a really bad trip to the dentist
I've always loved to travel. But for my daughter, going on a trip is extremely exciting and for my wife anxiety-inducing, even if it's only for a day. She relies on her dogs for comfort and the familiarity and of our home for stability, and being away from them for any period of time is eating all her energy and due to the anxiety she is getting easily upset. 


No matter how much we talk through the details of the trip ahead of time, there's no predicting how it'll go exactly. We've had terrible meltdowns on road trips and perfect planned rides, but the one constant in our travel experiences has been the lack of consistency.

Through the years, I've learned to plan the best I can and just ride the wave of whatever happens. My daughter may have meltdowns and my wife will get triggered in public places, and people may be huge jerks about it, but we enjoy the day out, and the rest of the world can just suck it up and deal with a meltdown once in awhile. Part of being a partner and a dad is the part learning to accept what you can't change and letting go of any and all guilt or embarrassment about it.


There's no break ... for us
It's important to find ways to take care of ourselves over the summer, not just our kids. That's easier said than done when there's few breaks to be found, but if we don't prioritize ourselves we can't be the moms and dads our kids need us to be or the parents we want to be. Being an caretaker dad/husband/man is a huge part of my live, but it's important not let our entire identities become consumed by our parenting either. I need to do silly man things and be a lover even though it's hard sometimes.


Most of all, we all need to remember that it's often a tough path but we're in this together. Find your support group and share your experiences with fellow spouses who have to deal with it as well. Just don't forget the drinks.



The Old Sailor,