Prioritizing Each Other

Lately my kids have been asking if today is our Tea Party Day (Tuesday). This makes me so happy, we borrowed the idea from another local home schooling family and my kids are absolutely in love with it. As I was looking at our silver and china ready for Tuesday it got me thinking.

It is surprising to me how much my kids look forward to certain rituals and traditions we have. Some, like the tea party, are weekly and some, like Thanksgiving in 100 Mile, are yearly. Regardless of how often they happen I realized tonight they happen consistently, we prioritize them and we work hard to make sure they happen. Some involve logistics and planning like for travel we need to arrange for the dog, take time off work and put aside money to pay for it. Some just require energy and time, like our tea parties, involve me putting aside chores or other activities and spending time with the kids.

It got me thinking about rituals with my spouse, and the time and energy we put into those. Recently a girlfriend asked a group of us about how each of us do this and keep our relationship with our significant other a priority. I think it was nice to see so many different answers and also to hear that everyone struggles with this. We often think we put ourselves last, but I actually think in our house we put our time together last. I do not feel my relationship is less because of it, or that we do not love each other or respect and admire each other. I think Fraser and I have an amazing relationship, I love the way we respect each other and I think part of what is so surprising is that we spend so much time together and still enjoy spending time with each other. However just because our day to day is spent together and we are home at the same time doesn’t mean we spend quality time together. My guess is part of the reason I tend to put our time together last is because I feel so supported and loved that I don’t always think we need our time together compared to other priorities. However, I am aware just because something seems good doesn’t mean you should ignore it, you still water plants that are growing!

2018 on Family Vacation in Maui (traveling with 3 kids, 3 and under and still smiling!)

It got me thinking about things we might have done in the past that have kinda slowly slipped away (like giving cards for no reason, leaving each other notes just because or even just checking in with each other about ourselves not our kids and small kind gestures like picking up a favourite snack when at the store or making each other morning coffee/tea). I think with families and busy lives this is bound to happen but it is always a good reminder that everyone likes to feel listened too and appreciated.

I know for us we are not weekly date night people (or even monthly). We prefer a weekend or night away over a dinner out. We both would rather save up for a bigger/ longer time away then take small little nights out. With kids and life being busy and Frasers work schedule dinners out have been more of a pain than a treat. I find it hard to leave behind the “to do” list on a quick couple hour dinner out and Fraser usually has to work graveyards and should be in bed resting instead of out for dinner (trying to work on rest as a priority has been a struggle for him). Last years weekend in Tofino or this years cancelled kidless Hawaii is what keeps us going. The idea of time together long enough to unwind is something we both appreciate.

Summer 2019, “Honeymooning” in Tofino on the beach without the kids.

Covid has changed the way we can ask for help, or hire out things we need. Another way we used to be able to have quality time together was by hiring such amazing sitters for our kids but we haven’t done that in a really long time. I think it has reminded me to get more creative with our time, and to take advantage of the time we do end up together alone. We always loved trying to go out for brunch, taking the dog for a walk in between school drop offs and pick ups or even just shopping without our kids. Our new homeschool schedule has left us with more time with our kids (which is its own blessing), but means less time alone together. I think the new challenge will be how we spend this time and show our kids that we prioritize each other as much as we do them and ourselves.

This summer after a long day out with the kids on our Covid Purchase (Snoopy Sam). Maybe the secret to quality time is spend it near or on the water!

Relationships take work, and I appreciate that even when times are hard (say like during a pandemic), or when we are frustrated with each other (never happens, because I am near perfect but if I was annoying FF) we still love each other and genuinely want to be together. I can’t imagine doing this life without Fraser.

It is always nice to hear suggestions from couples who have found ways to make time together or have favourite rituals. It has been a good reminder to just make time for each other, when we need to we can somehow make time for lots of other stuff so why not something as important as the person you are closest too.

I wonder if sometimes in life, like when your kids are little, your solo time will be less but that will change faster than you know it. Already my little kids are gaining more independence and less desire to be around us all the time. I am grateful that we still look forward to time together, and the idea of getting to travel or take time without our kids is something we enjoy. I like that we get to spend so much time together as a family so maybe our quality time doesn’t have to be without our kids but is instead with our kids, as long as we are showing them that they are not the only ones who matter but that Fraser and I do too!

Last year around the fire at Thanksgiving in 100 Mile! Right beside the Lake.

Would love to hear how other families or couples have prioritized their spouses and have created rituals or quality time? Please share

For now I am looking forward to Thanksgiving in the Cariboo with our whole family. It may not be time away from the kids but it is time where Fraser isn’t working at night so maybe campfire drinks after we put our kids to bed will be our quality time for now!

the “magic” of beginnings.

Over three years ago we started a journey with our family that we could have never imagined. Our son was diagnosed with Autism and we began seeing therapists in Richmond. One of our main therapies was ABA, it was a therapy we were not familiar with and we were struggling to understand. Desperate to get help we made the tough decision of choosing a program that involved a commute to Richmond several times a week.

Rowen was so young when we started going to ABA. Lots of tough days, but now looking back I don’t remember tough days. I see how far this boy has come and how capable he is.

Over the last three plus years there were days I wondered what we were doing loading three little ones up to drive to an early morning session and one or more child would fall asleep on the way there, or trying to kill a couple of hours in Richmond unsure if we had time to come home before picking Rowen up again. However looking back over the fastest three years I cannot imagine not having these services in our lives. I say ours because it has been an amazing learning experience for our whole family.

At the end of July we had our last day at our ABA program and although we knew this day would come COVID helped to expedite the process. Unfortunately the program that has brought us so much success and joy, over the past three years, has closed its doors. We are so sad to see such an amazing resource gone.

Post Covid Lockdown when we were asked to come back as one of the first families, this boy was so excited to be back to one of his favourite places. Funny how you don’t notice the change but somewhere along the way drop offs became easier.
Running into the program not away from! This is huge (and a good reminder that we will get here with our new activities).

Rowen has left the program with a better understanding of his emotions and those around him, techniques to use to calm himself or others down when they need it, ability to ask peers to play and take turns and even how to win and loose. I am confident the skills he has learned from Bounding Higher he will use for his life and for that I will forever be thankful.

I am grateful for what this program has all brought to our lives in terms of growth and learning. We have met so many amazing people. I know with growth will come change and outgrowing things but it still feels bittersweet to be moving on from a place and people who have been such a big part of our lives.

During the same time this change was happening I started to consider what the school year would look like for Rowen, Grace and really our whole family. With a lot of contemplation and research we opted to take a year of homeschooling. I spoke with anyone who would talk about the topic but I also went to some of our main supports and people whose advice I respect and admire. Not only do I feel these people have lots of credentials and experience in the education and psychological field but they also know our family.

With so much uncertainty and with the loss of our ABA program (and also our SLP because we received this service through the same program) we decided to attempt a year of homeschooling. We had a lot of reasons for going this route and most are unique to our family. One of the main reasons and benefits to opting to school from home was if I registered us with a Distance Learning Program I gained access to funding that typically would go to our school. This funding could help us hire a new ABA and SLP and start a new program. I was so excited, really seeing the results of the last three years I knew Rowen had more he could learn and we had more we needed before saying good bye to these therapies. (***When kids with Autism turn 6 they go from $22,000 a year of funding to $6000 so I had been worried about December and the loss of funding we knew was coming, we currently spend every penny and then some out of pocket). Accessing funding was a big incentive for us.

My first road trip with these three, and we made a stop at the waterfall. This transition isn’t just scary for the kids but for me too! However when we realized we could do it (and had fun watching waterfalls), it gave us confidence and hope.
Some transitions have been fun and easy like lazy mornings, no rush to get out of PJ’s and new treasures like Orbeez.

Fast forward to now, we have hired and started with two new therapies and therapists. Both companies are amazing and we are excited about working with them and the unique programs and goals we have come up with. However what I forgot to account for was how hard Rowen finds transitions, new people, new routines and expectations and unknowns; beginnings of something new.

The past week and a half have been challenging. Our kids have been so resilient during this whole Pandemic. During the summer we have had the ability to keep things as “normal” for them as possible and have also spent the last 4 months making things as much fun as possible. None of us have had big worries (I mean besides the obvious ones that come with living through a pandemic). We have had somewhat reliable/consistent work, safe housing, good food and access to some of our favourite places (beach, ocean, boat, farm etc). We have really been fortunate.

Tea on Tuesdays was one transition that was met with no resistance.
More time to bake and have fun in the kitchen has been a perk of our new schedule.
Learning new skills with Dad, like pickling! Not all learning takes place in books:)

Fall is here and has brought with it the reality that no matter what Fall brings we cannot isolate ourselves forever. We knew we would have to return to the world eventually and that it would look different. What I didn’t consider was the growing pains we would have along the way. I am so proud of Rowen (really all our kids) and his (their) ability to communicate his frustrations and feelings. However I am also tired and low on patience. The start of September has been a reminder to me to ask for help when I need it, take time for myself, take time to organize and prep and it makes for a better day and don’t be afraid to adjust expectations.

This coming week I am hoping to put all these reminders into action and start off feeling relaxed, supported and organized. I know that the more we go through the schedule the easier it will get. For now we are gonna enjoy the weekend!

As for the homeschooling part, that has been the easiest transition to make, and one the whole family is loving. Like all new things, we are working out the kinks and figuring out our rhythm but overall I am loving homeschool and surprised at how natural and “easy” this transition was. Looking forward to the fun field trips we have planned for the next few months as well as the group of homeschoolers we have met and are learning with.

Can’t wait to sharing our adventures with everyone and come back to blogging about our family! This may be the end of our old and familiar ways but it is the beginning of something magical.

Local Love, Beautiful BC

With Fall and Back to School fast approaching there are parts of me nervous for the winter season… I LOVE sunshine, sand and warm weather. Being outside is easy when it is nice out, and outside makes everyone happier. However we live in a place that is lucky enough to have all four seasons and with the colder seasons comes some challenges for myself… including getting outside despite cold and wet weather, and feeling inspired on dreary days. Keeping this in mind, and knowing we are most likely not going to head to a warmer beach for the winter I have decided to put together some of our favourite BC spots to visit and some of our Wish List items so we can work towards some stuff to do this year while we are staying local.

CARIBOO CHILCOTIN COAST

Thanksgiving in the ‘Boo

Nothing like seeing the change of colours in the Fall through the Caribou Region. We are fortunate to have Grandpa W & Nans Cabin to stay at however every year our whole extended family head up for Thanksgiving (and hunting season) and my little Fab Farlow Five rent a cabin on a ranch (Wettstone Guest Ranch).

We have been there with snow on the ground and during a typical “Fall” with crisp air and colourful leaves. Both were beautiful and I can imagine warmer months would be equally as great. Some of our favourite things about Wettstone Guest Ranch are the affordable accommodations, the shared great room and available breakfast and the horse back riding. This year will be our third year staying at Wettstone (our sixth year spending Thanksgiving in the ‘Boo) and I defiantly recommend it as something to try!

Gates looking out from the cabin.
Viewpoint at Wettstone Guest Ranch.
Grooming and getting the horses geared up are all part of the experience at the Ranch.
Views of the lake from the bedroom after the first snowfall were cause for excitement with these three!
Doesn’t matter what the season is in the Cariboo, we will often have a fire, bonus if it’s outside… hot dogs followed by s’mores is a Cariboo Menu must!
I think this time of year is truly unique as it can offer something for each member of our family, the hunters of the family LOVE it! And the kids love it because it means all the toys are out!

New Years on the Ski Slopes, Mt.Timothy

We also have spent our New Years or time in January/ February up in Bridge Lake Area (near 100 Mile). We stay at Nanny’s cabin but there are many different options for hotels, motels, airbnb’s and lodges. We had even heard the Ski Mountain might have Cabins to rent for the 2021 season. This is a great getaway because you are most certain to have snow (often LOTS of it), plus Mt Timothy has lots of amenities like ski lessons, magic carpet and tube hill, snowmobile trails, etc but at a fraction of the cost of some of the bigger more populated mountains. So not only does it feel a little less crowded and personalized service but you pay way less… we loved it! Even on the days we didn’t go up to ski on the mountain we had so much fun playing outside in the snow. Snow up in the Cariboo is different than on the coast, with the proper attire (think good boots and a snow suit with gloves) everyone would go out and play for hours without wanting to come in. Play included shovelling the driveway (on the quad of course), chopping firewood, sledding down the driveway, and just exploring all the beauty! If there was a day we didn’t feel like going outside we had fun playing games, reading by the fire or watching a movie!

Eleanor is our best “looser”. So far she is happy win or loose.
All fun and games…
Any excuse for a hot chocolate.
Somehow “chores” on vacation are fun! I don’t care why, if they are happy to help we don’t ask questions.
I think he likes helping because he loves all the fire, little pyro!
Everyone wanted to plow the driveway. This driver was a little scary (may take after her Mom).
Grace loved getting all the firewood, this is not an easy job but these two found it therapeutic I think.
Welcome to Mt Timothy
Ski School.

Whistler

I think Whistler is a “cliche” vacation but one not to be overlooked. Whistler is a popular and easy vacation spot for a many reasons. I think the reasons we like it is proximity (it’s so close we sometimes make a day trip of it), the playground is a huge hit with our kids (and it’s free!), walking around the village is so safe (free from cars) so it’s easy and fun to be outside with the kids. Plus the selection of accommodation and food is sure to have something for everyone. Apres life is huge for us and the whole village always seems so family friendly. We love The Keg with the kids (their kids menu is so good) and last time we had a great meal at Caramba and the kids loved it too!

This year it is on my “wish list” because I love the idea of staying at a hotel so the kids can swim at a pool and they also love staying at hotels. The big attraction for me though is to go and see the Vallea Lumina.

No matter the age, or the weather the kids always love this slide!
Not only is the little playground fun but it is also super cute!
Happy Place.
Apres at Caramba.

Tofino

We love Tofino… from the moment you drive through the Cathedral Forest you are transported into a very special place. The Clayoquot Sound is pure magic in my opinion and something I think I need to see in every season. Fraser and I went for our “honeymoon” last summer and fell in love with the area. We have meant to take the kids back and just never got around to doing it. I think the hold backs for us are cost (negotiable that you can do it on the cheap, but the struggle is we can’t… #travelingwithprincesses). However knowing we are canceling our winter beach vacation and also knowing we are homeschooling I am hoping we might be able to swing it this year and head to Tofino.

We loved all the beaches and walks, we loved a lot of the food (top mention is breakfast at Wickaninnish) and we took a seaplane over the Sound and it was fairly spectacular. Unfortunately I am not sure if the plane could fit all 5 of us, and if we go during storm season I am not even sure they would be offering it. On my Wishlist is going by sea plane to the hot springs with the kids (although I question how safe and well our kids would do this?). Also on my Wishlist is staying at Pacific Sands in their Edgewater Suite… but that might be pushing it! Definitely we know the kids would love Tofino as much as we do and we hope to take them!

We loved experiencing Tofino from the sky and even saw a whale from above.
I think the kids would love this!
Just a bunch of Newlyweds!
Anything with Beach Access is sure to be a Farlow Family approved Vaycay!
Love the laid back vibe at the restaurants. Nothing is fancy, and all seem kid friendly.
Breakfast is the most important meal (in our house) and for sure I wouldn’t miss doing it up at The Wick. Not only is a beautiful view but the food was phenomenal.

BC is truly Beautiful and has so many amazing places to see… I would love to hear places on your wish list or favourites you have visited! Even better if they are good for families with young kids and accessible in the winter months. For now I will continue to make our family wish list on places to visit this year while we are homeschooling and have some flexibility on travel hoping it continues to stay safe to do it within province.

covid Life Lessons

I think after the months of staying at home, we are beginning to see just how much our family has to be thankful for. My kids are aware of the virus and the changes that are going on but for the most part we have been able to just hang out at home and have fun. Fraser has been working during the whole pandemic, our yard is a sanctuary for us and our home is well stocked with all the things we could need (food and entertainment).

As life moves on and we try to find a “new normal” I am not too quick to rush back to some of the old ways. I have told my kids stores do not allow children right now (maybe a stretch but somewhat true) plus we are in a position where we have many options to shop without bringing our kids out. We have also not returned to any of their activities with the exception of Rowens therapies. I do think the kids miss them to some extent, but I also know this is temporary and at some point they will return to organized activities. Our goal was to enjoy the summer and make a choice for organized programs in September. For now I am enjoying the slower relaxed pace that comes with so few commitments. I love the no stress each day brings and the lack of driving and time spent in the car going from activity to activity.

I am learning that we are all missing traveling (specifically time in Hawaii) but we can still explore and enjoy Beautiful BC. I am also learning that we have so many beautiful places available to us right in our own “backyard” so to speak. One place we have been finding happiness is on the water. My kids love to be outside, exploring the beaches, finding treasures, swimming, kayaking, paddle boarding and of course being out on our new to us boat. This privilege is not lost on me and we are so grateful for all the water experiences we have available to us. Something we have become extremely aware of is how fortunate we are to have so much family that has helped us to be able to give our kids these amazing and safe experiences. It is not lost on me that our flexible work schedules and access to some pretty amazing spots is not the “norm”.

Playing at the Beach House. When we were feeling cabin fever at home we would head to the Beach House and breathe!

We have been taking nice breaks when we know we could all use them, whether that is a sunset swim, late afternoon boat ride or mid week road trip. I used to want my kids to have the very best and everything they want but over the last little bit I realize I want them to experience seeing us work for stuff that is important to us and that we love, but also be willing to give up work to just be together and have fun. I have always believed time holds pretty big value and the older I get the more I remember the people we spent the most time with, and all those memories we were creating without even knowing it. If we can teach them a balance between working for stuff and taking time for fun then I think we will have done our job as parents. Growing up I was surrounded by family, aunts, uncles and cousins were always around and one really cool thing was the time we got to spend together. Some of our aunts were full time moms, lots of our uncles were self employed or had seasonal work so aside from my own Mom lots of our family had flexible schedules. Over the pandemic it has opened our eyes how much we love Frasers schedule and the ability to be at home with each other and have that time.

My sister recently reminded me about our weekday morning breakfasts with my aunt and uncle, my aunt would always start her morning with a pop while my uncle would be smoking away. Do I think starting your morning with pop or cigarettes is the best? Probably not, but I would give anything to get to have one more morning with them for breakfast. Unfortunately life doesn’t work like that. Time is precious and goes way too fast. Although I cannot slow it down, I can learn to appreciate how fortunate this time with our kids is and our unique ability to have so much available time to spend with them is. I think they taught me how the value of time and to choose wisely how you spend it.

This is my Aunt and Uncle. Wish I had a picture of them in the morning at the breakfast table, it’s such a clear memory I actually don’t even need the picture.

Having our kids at home instead of at school or programs with teachers and coaches has been extremely challenging. My dreams of being able to homeschool my kids have had a hard dose of reality hit them. I realize that for Rowen the “homeschool” we had set up is not his ideal learning environment and that he really missed the interaction of his peers and his teachers. We have expanded our bubble and the kids have friends they now see and play with but it got me thinking to how we could be more inspiring to our kids? They are home with us for a bit and it might not change for the foreseeable future. I’m trying to change my mindset and trying to look at this time as a gift.

At first I was cranky and frustrated with the staying home, long hours with the same five people and lack of support and help we normally have. However when I started to see how fortunate we were and began to prioritize what mattered most to our family I began to see that we could still “teach” our kids and inspire without following the online lesson plans. I hope that Fraser and I inspire our kids to follow their passions and find things that excite them. When you are passionate about something it is usually contagious to others. My Aunt and Uncle had huge impacts on our lives and it wasn’t to start the day with pop or to smoke a pack or two a day. I want my kids to laugh at the strange habits we might have had but also to remember the time we spend as a family as valuable.

The one thing I admire about parenting with Fraser is that we both encourage and inspire each other to sometimes live outside of the box. We don’t always make the smart or popular decision but this has been something that has paid off for us more times then not. It has meant sometimes we have cut people out of lives that are toxic, it has meant working long hours so we can take extended time off, choosing to have messy floors, dirty dishes and laundry and get to go out on fun adventure or taking days off when it would make more financial sense to go to work, getting a puppy when we were having a baby, renovating when we were having another baby and buying a boat during a pandemic. For us it has meant we aren’t waiting for “tomorrow” or some unknown future, when we know something we want we try to do it. We live for the now and we are enjoying these moments and days. They go so fast and we all know we don’t get them back.

I saw this and it has really stuck with me, I think it is just a good reminder when sometimes we think “there will be time or we can do it later or change it”. Somethings you can’t get back so don’t take them for granted or miss opportunities.

I admire the way Fraser has always wanted to go back and take pottery classes. He finally decided this year to take the plunge and register for a Tuesday morning class in Vancouver. He was loving it and our kids were always asking about Dad’s pottery and what he was doing. Unfortunately he couldn’t take lessons during covid but in true Fraser style he set up a studio in his shop and made pieces from home, he had the kids out watching him and even making pieces of their own. If our kids can see a bearded tattooed biker like their dad working with his hands making beautiful pieces of pottery (and loving it) I hope they know that they can do or be anything they want. I love that these examples are not only good for each other; Fraser gets time doing something he enjoys, I get beautiful pieces of pottery but the kids also learn if you enjoy something you find a way to do it.

I am a SAHM (stay at home mom). It has been both a blessing and a curse, as well as something I am proud and ashamed of. Knowing that staying at home as a primary caregiver was causing me to resent Frasers time outside of the house as well as make me feel less than for not having an outside job I started to take a couple days a week out at the farm for “me time”. My part time job, is more than just a job for me. It allows me to leave my kids twice a week without (too much) guilt. It has given my kids a pride in seeing what and where I work, but also shows them that I am more than just their Mom. It has also forced me to expand my circle and communicate with other adults. Covid has taught me that I definitely have social anxiety and have enjoyed having an “excuse” not to see other people and to stick within a bubble I am comfortable with. However having the farm forces me out, in a place where I feel comfortable and happy! It is a win win win!

Hard at work in his home studio.
Words to live by. Such truth.
This is my “job” how lucky am I?

I think another way we can inspire and teach our kids is by showing gratitude for what we have, as well as giving to those who might not have as much. Again with Covid it has been an eye opener to some of the security we have that I have previously taken for granted. We have a big loving and supporting family as well as an incredible group of family and friends. We have job security (as much as any job can be secure), home and food. Not once did we worry about running out of food or not being able to buy or access what we needed. I was shocked and sad to find out how many families in our community were struggling with basic needs like food. We previously hadn’t done much in terms of real “charity” aside from dropping off food at food drives during Christmas but during Covid we became involved with an organization called Mama’s for Mama’s and regularly donate fresh yummy food (not extra cans from our cupboards). We also helped the kids to donate to Delta Hospital Foundation their lemonade stand money they had earned last year. I really want them to know that we never know when we might need some of these supports so if we are in a position to ever help or give we should even a small amount.

The kids might not have understood what exactly they have done but they seemed excited and we were very proud of them. Never to young to learn to give back.

Covid has taught our family many lessons, it has been a rollercoaster of emotions and has tested our relationships and patience in ways I didn’t think possible. However it has also opened our eyes to have more empathy and see that we all have more in common, as a whole we share the same fears and concerns and for the most part as a country we care about each other and the greater good. I am proud of my family and the way we have grown over the past 4 months. I am anxious about the Fall but I am also looking forward to trying new things and seeing how we can take this new growth and live differently.

It’s a School Night.

Sunday night means school tomorrow.  Obviously not actual school, but when our weekends are finished and we tuck our kids into bed on Sunday nights we always remind them its school tomorrow.  Ever since we have started to do some “school at home” it has allowed us to get into more of a routine and have some sense of normalcy.

With the Pandemic and so many changes to our life school has been something we miss.  All three kids miss seeing teachers and friends.  They are missing the routines for sure but also the things that they were working towards.  Grace, my four year old, talks a lot about her new school for Kindergarten, her uniform and all the things she has coming up.  It has definitely been an eye opener to how many events we will be missing over the course of just a few months (uniform try on day, parent info night, Preschool Grad to name a few).  In the scheme of things I realize how small and trivial these things are but to my four year old they are big things.  We are navigating new times, without being able to answer questions about what the near future will look like.  This can be scary and emotional for all of us.

 

School has been a hot topic, and rightfully so, with many parents and families. It has also been a tough situation for so many people.  We have just one school age child, and he’s only in Kindergarten.  Our other two kids are preschool age.  On top of them being so young, we are also in a very unique situation where I am a full time mom and my husband works shift work and is home during the day.

We do not have to struggle with trying to work from home, or balance teaching our kids with our work, or even share technology between all of us.  We have enough iPads/ computers and Fraser is still leaving the house to go into work. I cannot imagine the challenges families are facing during what is already a stressful time.  I am beyond grateful for all of these things.  I know we are very fortunate to be in the situation we are for so many reasons including the ages of our kids, the support we have from our school, the set up we have at home for home learning and more.  That being said we definitely don’t have it perfect, we have our own set of challenges.  My son has Autism and normally has many supports and programs.  We are transitioning to enter Grade 1 and leave a lot of the programs he has had through his toddler years, there was a plan to help make this shift from his therapies to school gradual which will not be happening as we are not able to attend any of these programs currently.  In addition it is so great to have my husband home during the day but he is still working so he is overtired trying to help with the kids and continue to work at night, plus with us trying to still continue with some learning (school and therapies) it means I am spending time doing that… less time to do household stuff which still needs to get done (meals, laundry, maintenance, etc).  I guess our worries are “good” ones to have.  We aren’t worried about our home, food or the necessities but I guess my point is that it still isn’t easy.

I thought I would share some of the things that we have learnt over the past 6 or so weeks and some of the things that are working for us.  I am understanding and empathetic of every situation and realize not everyone is in a situation where these would be relevant.  I appreciate that.  If there is one thing we should all be learning right now is that there is no right answer and what works for one, might not work for others.  I just thought I would share what is working for us.

1)  DETERMINE LEARNING PRIORITIES OR EXPECTATIONS. What do you want your child/children to come out of this having learned?  What are your goals?

This is one of those questions that we are asked often with Rowen.  When you have a child with special needs you are constantly goal setting and at first it is strange and unknown but then you learn to set goals that are age appropriate and seem almost second nature for kids to learn but, for Rowen, are things we make a conscious effort to teach.  It can include things like learning how to initiate play, play with others or independently, win and loose, take turns, etc.  

Goals can vary so much from child to child, and family to family.  For us during the pandemic and “schooling from home” I want my kids to learn about emotions, disappointment, flexibility and gratitude.   I also want them to learn a bit about global responsibilities and being part of a community as well as giving back or helping others and how we can do that.  However I hope we can learn more than these big life lessons.

I want to try and support my son to be able to maintain all the skills he has built through kindergarten thus far.  So keep up with his reading, maintain some routines,  fine motor skills and writing, do some desk work, follow instructions and concentrate on a worksheet.  Although these things might seem small or that they can be picked back up again whenever we do return to school, they are goals we have worked hard to reach over the last few months and even years.  When we do not practice and apply skills we have learned they can be forgotten and I would hate to fall back when we have worked so hard to get to where we are.

By defining what our goals were I have been able to make adaptions to our day depending on our moods, weather, other things that are going on in the house, etc   I love this because it gives me a guide to check against.  For example if we are having a moody day and Rowen isn’t cooperating I can look through his class activities and decide do these need to be done or can we “skip” them and still achieve my goal for Rowens learning.  Most times we are good to “skip” and then I do not have to beat myself up or force him to do stuff just to get it done.

2)  CONSISTENCY IS KEY.  So this could look different but for us it is making sure we are up, fed and dressed by 9am for Rowens first class meet.  Prior to having this option we were sleeping in a lot, rarely getting dressed and never starting our “work” before 10am at the earliest.  There was nothing wrong with this but by giving ourselves a bit more of an expectation it has helped us start our day off better.  We also have determine the morning as “school” time and then noon-ish is lunch and the afternoon is free for whatever we like. This has helped to establish again expectations   It hasn’t meant every day is great but it has made it easier for me to enforce and be a but more dedicated to school work.

3)  BE PREPARED.  I have found it is huge if I prepare stuff the night before. The kids are usually very excited to come out and the morning and see what stations I have set up for them or even for Rowen just to come see todays To Do list and know what he has to get done.   I think it gives me a bit more credit with them and they trust I have a plan (even when I don’t)

4). BREAK UP YOUR DAY.  Take breaks.  We sometimes call them body breaks and will set timers for a 15 minute jump in the tramp or a quick swing.  It might even just be a snack break (recess and lunch shouldn’t be forgotten).  We made some fun body break cards that Rowen could pull out and it would tell him somethings to do (10 push ups, dance like a robot, etc).

These are just a few of the things that we are trying hard to implement and follow to help make our days the best they can be.  We are looking forward to a time when we get to return to our programs but for now we will continue to work on what we can.

Keep learning.  Keep washing your hands.  Keep your head up!

 

 

 

Distance Diaries

Life sure can surprise you when you are least expecting it. This Pandemic has been an eye opener in many areas of our lives, and so I want to share what we have learnt as a family about our lives.

Before I share this I think I need to preface it by saying it is not lost on me how serious this virus is and the long term effects it will have on families, businesses and the world. That being said I have made a more conscious effort to avoid the news as well as following along with the updates too closely for my own mental health and sanity. In reality our family has been so fortunate to not yet have major impacts because of these changes happening in the world. My husband still goes to work, my family is all safe and healthy and we have not had too many additional stresses or worries because of the pandemic. I think one thing I have learnt about myself is I cannot take on too much outside stress. For me to stay happy and healthy I need to focus on gratitude and what is happening within my world. I also have realized no matter who you are or where you are, the pandemic has impacted you, so while I say we have not been majorly impacted of course our lives have changed and with change comes some stress.

The first lesson that happened fairly quickly into all this social distancing was the realization of how well prepared and stocked our house was. Fraser might look at it as proof that I have a shopping problem but I like to think I was just prepared. It really was “fun” to stay home for the first couple weeks. We had “sleepovers”, movie nights, tons of crafts, game nights and lots of creative ways of keeping busy. I immediately realized that previous to pandemic I would often find the things that I didn’t like about our house before realizing how fortunate we were. We have an amazing backyard, lots of outside space, my husband has a big shop for him to tinker in, we have lots of technology available to us and I have a very stocked craft cupboard. A shift in my attitude is that I am now more appreciative of the house we have. I think what I realized is that our home is our safe place, it is not a punishment to stay home but a privilege.

That quickly lead to my second realization, without the stress of social interactions I was experiencing way less anxiety… perhaps this means I am an introvert. I think I discovered that a lot of my anxiety comes from all the social stuff, and that staying home is where I am most comfortable. It doesn’t mean I think it is healthy to stay at home forever, but I think post pandemic I will make more of an effort to spend more time at home and be okay with that. Too often I said yes to too much because I thought it was the right thing for everyone else but now I know that the kids and family are okay if we stay home!

Photo by Shelby Rose Photography #distancediaries

I also discovered that we love to travel. Quickly into our isolation we decided to cancel our Hawaii trip scheduled for April. This was really upsetting for many reasons (including it was our first trip without kids, cancelling it meant it was the first time in 4 years we would not get to Hawaii our happy place and we were missing a friends wedding). Part of me was so grateful that we had made the decision before everything got crazy. I was envisioning being stuck in a different country away from our kids or worse getting sick and racking up a giant medical bill. So, although we are sad about the missing the trip I am grateful we have been able to travel before pandemic and that we will hopefully be able to travel after again. I realize now, 6 weeks into isolating, that I do love my home and staying in. However I also love getting to travel and plan trips with our family. We are still trying to be hopeful we will get to do our annual end of summer camping trip with some friends, Tofino in September and surprise the kids at Christmas with the New Year in Maui… but my gut is saying these are more like dreams! So with this news it has us all a little bummed. The kids have talked a lot about Hawaii and Disneyland (two of their favourite places) and it has got me realizing how fortunate we are to have taken them on so many amazing vacations, near and far. I also realize that these vacations are things they cherish so once it is safe we will continue to prioritize our family vacations. There are times I have felt so guilty for this being something I am sad about when I know there are others that have maybe never been on a family vacation or save many years to be able to do one big vacation. I also find myself thinking how privileged I am to be worried about when my next vacation will be when there are families dealing with way bigger issues like worrying about housing, food, money, childcare or their businesses and jobs. With this in mind I am trying to see this as an opportunity for gratitude. I think I always appreciated our vacations but I defiantly took them for granted, the next time we get to go away I will make sure to appreciate it!

A really cool realization has been the lack of screen time we have seen since isolation has started. I keep hearing and seeing that people are resorting to screens to entertain their kids but we have found kinda the opposite in our house. We are screen people and I am a little embarrassed to say we have an iPad for each child and we are fairly relaxed about “rules”. However since the pandemic and really the start of “back to school at home” we haven’t needed to let the kids use the iPads or screens. We do school in the morning and it is using screens for zoom calls, class meets and to watch videos that correspond with their lessons. After that the day is spent with play. With all the sunshine we have had the kids have been busy outside gardening, playing in the sandbox, jumping on the tramp, getting creative with sidewalk chalk, riding their scooters, water fights and the list goes on. I have learnt that our kids can play independently, are good at pretend play and have lots of toys considering my desire to purge regularly! Overall we have some very happy kids and I am proud of the way they are handling these “new norms”. Even my own screen usage is down. I will comment we have days where we resort to giving screens or turning on the tv but I just feel like we all have days we need to just veg out.

One huge realization I have is the support system and people we have in our life. I had always known we were fortunate to have family close by and that our friends are the best of the best. I had a good feeling about the team we have built to support us with Rowen and of course we have loved the school we chose to send the kids too. Pandemic has pushed every one of these people and supports to new levels, and I can honestly say they have all gone above and beyond. The amount of creative ways these people have adapted and continued to support us and our kids is unbelievable. Our family has continuously surprised us with Birthday parades, Easter goody crafts and activities, worksheets and new desk deliveries, homemade goodies, cards and of course FaceTimes or porch distancing visits. Our teachers and support staff have dropped off indoor shoes, muddy buddies, schoolwork packages and more. They are continuing to teach and support with regular correspondence and tons of communication. They have offered loaning out equipment if we do not have enough or the right stuff and really come up with some creative ways to continue therapy from home. I’m not sure we will ever be able to thank all these people are the way they have impacted the experience our whole family is having through this pandemic. It has meant that in a time that is scary and unsure we have some light and laughter. We have some consistency with our kids and we are all adapting. It has made our jobs as parents easier but it has also shown our kids that these people aren’t leaving us, they are here despite being unable to physically be here.

Photo by Shelby Rose Photography #distancediaries

I think when I really sit down and look at these last 6 weeks and how surreal it has all been I feel nothing but gratitude. As of today we are all still happy and healthy. That is all I could wish for in times like that. I know that our family will look forward to a post pandemic life but it will not be the one we had before. Our life is forever changed and I think that is okay. My sister just taught me about “we people and me people” and I am proud to see the way our friends and family are showing up as “we people”. It has got me thinking about how we teach our kids to help others and what we are doing to help others. I am finding some small and some bigger ways we can help out our community… and it has left me feeling a little bit better in a time when we can so easily be brought down. I think if we can do anything during these strange and sad times it is find ways to spread joy and judge less!

“That” Family

I was recently told that I was one of “those” Moms, and we were one of “those” families that look like they have it all together and are doing it all! I was shocked and I guess a little flattered. If you know me, then you know we are not one of “those” families. I quickly corrected this vision of our family by stating all of the things we struggle with. However as I thought about it later, I realized for every area I am “failing” in I have an area I am doing pretty great in too! I think the reality of parenting (in our case three young kids) is that you have to make choices and prioritize what you want for their childhood and what you can live with or without.

Most days are a struggle, we usually always have two parents at home all day to manage all three kids and I do not take all three out (particularly for errands) alone. I despise making meals, and rarely do it regularly. I used to be a clean freak and now I struggle to maintain as clean of a bathroom as possible because I need at least one clean room and that’s the smallest (plus come on, who wants a dirty bathroom). I try to continuously run laundry but have yet to ever fully catch up, and its more out of necessity (kids need clean clothes, mom ran out of underwear, Rowen has no more uniforms left, etc). We are always outnumbered and try our best to enjoy our often challenging days.

Families are funny things, I love to brag about mine because lets face it they are pretty great… but the behind the scenes and the everyday can be tough. Some days are great and smooth and amazing, but some days just aren’t. Plus no family is what it seems, or so I am learning. We have learnt that you cannot expect anything from family, you can work hard at creating what you want but it is not a given. Parents can disappoint you, siblings can be best friends or the opposite, kids can surprise you and family can go above and beyond when you really need it and least expect it. Family can be more than people who are blood related. We are lucky in our life to have created a large group of diverse people we call our family, a mixture of blood relatives and by choice family.

I thought I would ask the kids what family meant to them, and these were the answers I got… Grace says “Families take pictures together, hmmm maybe not the dogs. Families are together.” Rowens answer was “A family is when the kids are with their Mom and Dad, that is what a family is called.” Eleanor says “Families are like colours, some people are in my family like Elsa and Anna.” So, I guess we might work on that? Lol, a good start to them learning what a family is.

We are a “typical” family, we can be loud, we scream at our kids or react in ways we aren’t proud of, we can be messy and stressed and all that life stuff! But amongst all the crazy we are happy and healthy and love each other. The kids have a warm bed, food to eat, clothes to wear and parents that love them and support them. Usually the bed and clothes are clean, sometimes they wear warm enough clothes, we try to make the food nutritious but we always love them. Most of all we try to take advantage of the time we can spend with them and make it count when we can.

So, if you scroll my instagram and see us having fun know that was one minute of amazing… there were a million other minutes of all sorts of different things.

Tomorrow, Tuesday, is our super crazy day. It starts with school drop off, every child is at school Tuesday mornings but at three different schools. So Rowen is in Richmond for 9am, Grace at Lil’ Saints in Ladner at 8:45 and of course Eleanor in Beach Grove for 9am. Fraser is taking a pottery class downtown and it starts at 10am. Eleanor needs to be picked up for 11:30 in Tsawwassen. Rowen is picked up in Richmond at noon, and of course there are weeks like last week where I had an 11am meeting with his therapists to go over his goals and progress, and then off to take Row to Sacred Heart so he can finish the afternoon at school At least the afternoon slows down just school pick ups and swimming lessons… just a typical day???

I wouldn’t change it, I absolutely love that I am able to pick up and drop off my kids, meet and chat with their teachers and therapists and get involved with school and any other programs. I am proud that Fraser decided to take a class he has been interested in for a while and made time for himself and despite it being a busy day I am so glad we do swim lessons because our kids love it and it is such a great end to our day. It is not lost on me the privilege it is to be able to do this for them. However it all comes with a cost, there is no one way to raise a family and there is no right way to do it, no matter how badly I wish there was.

I think what I realize is I will continue to do me, I will parent for the kids and family I have and do the best I can. I will be grateful for the choices and life we have and try to find the bright side of our situation. I will also give myself some grace for the tough moments, days, weeks and times. I want to try to remember this when enviously watching another family do it differently. It is so easy to see someone else’s life and think it is easier or better, but I think that is rarely the case. It is just different.

So whatever your family looks like, and however you spend your days I hope it was a great one! Happy Family Day.

A Decade of Lessons.

Time is a crazy thing, I am often unaware of it passing and then its gone. 2020 is fast approaching and with that comes all the excitement and promises of a fresh new year and decade as well as the reviews and playbacks of the past year and decade.

I have been thinking lots about how fast (and slow) 10 years goes. The first thing that came to mind for me was the loss the last 10 years has brought with it. I personally have lost two very important and influential people in my life this decade. My aunt was near the beginning of the decade and my uncle near the end. I have also watched friends lose parents and even had some of my peers pass away over the last 10 years. It has been hard, continues to come in waves and never truly goes away or gets easier. Every time I have a success, milestone, holiday or challenge I miss and wish I could talk to my Uncle and Aunt. However it has also taught me that life can and does go on, we can still have successes and happiness despite feeling immense sadness and things are always changing, so appreciate the now and those in your life today as one day they won’t be there.

The last 10 years has also taught me to really enjoy the moments because they go so fast. I had 3 little babies so close together and now my youngest is 2, some days this is astonishing to me as I can clearly remember moments of my first pregnancy as if it were yesterday. Then there are those times when I am chatting with a few moms and they are all talking about feeding their babies, nap schedules or some baby related milestone and I cannot remember them. I think to myself, it couldn’t have been that long ago… it actually flew by! I remember how as a new Mom I used to feel like days would go past without me really “accomplishing” anything and I would look forward to my kids getting older and more independent. However now I realize these moments go by and you will never get them back, they will never be that small again and it goes so so so fast. So even in the trying and hard moments I remember nothing lasts and try to find the joy in some of those moments.

Another lesson the last ten years has taught me is that if you are unhappy or living a life you do not want you have the power to change it. Life has so many choices, we just have to be brave enough to make them. It is okay to change your mind, it is good to grow and not all choices are easy but after it is all said and done they hopefully lead to a happier version of your life. 10 years ago my goals were different, my job was different, finances, family dynamics, etc. I am so proud of the choices I have made over the last 10 years and although they were not all happy or easy they have lead me to a life I love and continue to be grateful for everyday. The best goal I can have for the next 10 years is that all these things will change again… my job continues to evolve and I am able to add to it, our finances will continue to improve, goals will evolve and change and more!

You cannot undo the past, you cannot plan for the future… you can live in the present! That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t learn from your past or try to work towards goals in the future it just means don’t over think it cause because circumstances and people change and I have had amazing things come from being open to changing my “plans”. Ask anyone who knew me 10 years ago about wanting kids and you will most defiantly hear that I didn’t want them, even in my late 20’s. Talk to me today and my 3 amazing and beautiful kids (who I most defiantly wanted) were the best decision I made, continue to teach me and give my life so much more joy! Be flexible and adaptable, knowing that things can change has given me hope when I needed it and has also forced me to dream a little bigger!

Dream Big. It’s as easy and hard as that! For our family this has come into play in so many aspects of our life. We have dreamt big in terms of our house and the changes we wanted to make and have slowly been making. However it has also given us a new appreciation for knowing our priority isn’t our house, sure we like having something clean and maintained but we don’t have to have all the things we want to be happy. Dreaming Big has also helped us to go from no vacations to falling in love with experiences and working hard to make travel a part of our lives. I can remember taking our first “big” family vacation to Hawaii for 10 days, in the middle of a renovation, with two kids under two and pregnant with our third and sitting on the beach saying imagine if we could stay for a month!!! For the following two years we took our three kids for 5 weeks each year. It was amazing. I love the experiences the last 10 years have brought and cannot wait to see what the next 10 will bring for us.

With all of this in mind I welcome a new decade and will work at enjoying the now.

Priorities and choices.

I love these comparisons. So often we make the excuse of not having the time or money as a reason we can’t do something. My Mom loves to remind us everything is about choices. As much as I am grateful and know how fortunate I have been in my life I also know there are lots of things I make choices on and prioritize to do that allows us to lead the life we live.

I think in today’s world life is extremely expensive and the demands we place on ourselves are hard to manage. However if we really go back to basics, look at our lives and prioritize what we want out of our life I wonder how we would live a little differently.

Investing in yourself could mean so many things to so many people. It has been something I have been thinking lots about lately, I turned 35 this month and as I watch my family and those around me age I have been thinking lots about our family’s health and what that means.

Fraser and I have been working at watching what we eat and how active we are. But of course with those changes come choices (and expenses). Do we eat organic? Where is our meat coming from? What kind of activities do we want to do and do we need equipment. His knee hurts and I have been having sore feet. So knee brace, and time to think new runners, better shoes and of course orthotics would help! The list goes on.

Along with healthy food and activities we cannot forgot another important concept of adequate sleep… I know what you are thinking. Fraser is a shift worker and survives on very little sleep and I have three kids who all wake up periodically through out the night and often co-sleep with us. We are parents, what young family do you know who gets enough sleep with little kids? I am here to tell you with a bit of work on our part we are all sleeping better and more! This has not been easy for either one of us, but we both use our alarms on our phones. I set an alarm one an hour before I want to go to bed to remind me to turn off the TV, get off my phone and turn the lights down a bit. Fraser is working hard at watching the time, especially with these brighter nights and making sure he gets to bed at a reasonable hour. The crazy and cool thing about sleep is that when you get more of it you feel more energized during the day and are able to accomplish more in less time! Plus it is one of those investments that is hard and takes some discipline but is completely free from monetary cost (at least for us it is).

This is what I consider investing in ourselves. We are really focused on improving our health but also our energy and mental well being. With lots of these improvements comes a price tag, and like most things with our family it is a balancing act of prioritizing what we want most and what we can do without. I can’t give advice on budgeting as quite frankly I am just no good at it but what I can say is although at the time it might not feel good spending money on these types of things when I start to see benefits in the long term, and sometimes these benefits include saving money (like when we start to cook more at home and we spend less eating out) it is very rewarding.

I was chatting with my Naturopath and then lead to a conversation with my Mom around this topic. It was about how we often know what we should do to lead healthy lifestyles but we don’t. For example people visit a medical Doctor and don’t follow through or even listen to their advice. However lots of times when we pay for something whether it is medical advice from an Naturopath, natural vitamins not covered by our extended medical or even workout classes we are more likely to follow through (even if we don’t want to) because it has a monetary cost associated with it. In some ways this is sad that we won’t work for other costs like detoriating mental health, loss in the longevity in life or even declining physical well being. Truth be told I am very guilty of this, if I pay for something I will more likely follow through with it. I am not sure if it is because of the cost or because I don’t want to listen to Fraser complain and nag about the cost and me not following through. Whatever it is I am glad to have something to motivate me to lead a healthier and in turn happier life, and hold me accountable.

Why wait until we are sick to pay anything for a cure, wait until we are overweight and would pay big bucks for weight loss, wait to age and then start spending on anti-aging. We could prevent instead of fix, doesn’t that make more sense?

I think your “investment” in yourself will look different at different stages and times in your life. Depending on what you are going through and what is feasible for you.

For us, right now we as a family have chosen to invest our time into driving Rowen to his programs, and participating in workshops or parent training, we have invested in private school for the kids and swimming as well as some summer activities. Activities for us have been low on our list of priorities as we love free time and time spent together as a family, so we invest in our family vacations more than extra curricular (although I see this being something that may change in the future as the kids grow and need or want different things).

I am investing time and money into trying to figure out and regulate my hormones so I can be the healthiest version of myself (balance… I still wanna have fun!) and also have more energy. So far having a hormone test done and trying to change diet as well as adding in vitamins and supplements has made a big difference. I love seeing a Naturopath and love the Clinic I go to because it has other disciplines that can all work together (Massage Therapy, Pedorthist).

Fraser is investing time into his health by working on his sleep, eating habits (with the help of a structured program to get us started back on healthy habits) and is getting back into his baseball for summer (social and a bit of physical).

We are also investing in our financial health. We are working hard at living within our means and not carrying debt (so this has impacted a lot of our other decisions). For example no new vehicle and when we do decide to upgrade it has to be something we can buy outright without payments. We like the freedom of low monthly payments or minimal monthly payments so adding one doesn’t make sense or help give us financial health. Plus this is obviously good for our mental health, less debt means less stress and that’s huge!

I think a big lesson in all of this is to remember you are you, and you don’t have to be like anyone else. It is easy to get caught up in the moment or to want what others have but the thing is you can not have it all. So by prioritizing together what we want it helps us to help each other during tough moments make good decisions and to keep our decisions in line with our values.

I hope that whatever stage of life you are in, you find value in investing in yourself. It may look different to everyone but hopefully you are doing it! I would love to hear how you do that, or any things you’ve found super helpful!!! I always love sharing my successes.

RESOURCES:

Collaborative Wellness

Dr Lisa Ghent| Naturopath

Hormone testing, regulating periods, increasing energy and thyroid help (but she does much more)

Kaely Brittliffe| RMT

Regular massage, and some Craniosacral work!

Casey Bjorum| Pedorthist

New orthotics and advice for new shoes!

The Run Inn

Great selection of runners, casual shoes and of course Birkenstock’s! ***plus works with Casey and you can save a little $$$ if you go to her first.

UGI, Buffy Babies Fitness

Fast and feels good to get your sweat on, childcare available too!!!

Beach Body on Demand

New for me is home workouts, I love the online community and coaches… plus find the convenience amazing and can’t believe the improvement in strength I’m noticing.

Emma Lea Farms

Berries, Cherries, Potatoes, Honey and more… Plus SPCA certified beef. We love knowing where our food comes from.

Backroads Farm Market

Again… knowing where your food comes from and in season fresh produce.

Jarrys

Love shopping local, and they have the best selection of more natural products (great variety for baking!).

SUPPORTed Parenting.

We are far from perfect parents and even farther from the parents I thought we would be, but I gotta say I love learning and improving at this parenting gig as we grow with our kids.

Here is the thing, when we had Rowen diagnosed about a year and a half ago and we were presented with so many opportunities for help we jumped at the chance to have advice at figuring out how to best support Rowen. What I don’t think I realized is how important support is for everyone and anyone, including us as parents.

This past week has had me missing my Uncle and thinking about what a big part he had in supporting us as we were growing up (and even into our adult years). He always loved to say he didn’t get to where he was without help. I admired him and all his accomplishments and realize now how right he was. No one can be successful without the right supports.

So, as we are nearing our first child entering Kindergarten and have ended his preschool years it has me thinking ahead to new ways we can support him in this new chapter.

Rowen, like many children, takes time to warm up to new routines, people and places and does better in smaller groups or with someone there to feel connection with. This is what I call a support, making sure we prepare him the best we can and give him the things we know make him most comfortable in his next chapter.

For most of his preschool years he had a support worker, who in the beginning was helping him with a lot, and towards the end of the year was able to back away and have Row do most things independently. The thing about support in any form is that it doesn’t mean you are incompetent or that you are less then someone else, it just means you learn and work differently. How amazing would it be if we all had the right support in place, the things we would all accomplish and feel.

I guess I am just super grateful that in the stage of life we are in right now we have enough time and a little bit of money to be able to provide Rowen, really all of our kids, with the support we think will help them to succeed.

Support can look different for everyone but I will speak to the support we are providing Rowen with. I will admit that providing Rowen with the support we felt is best has come at a cost, so we have had to trade off things to be able to accommodate some of these choices. The thing is life is about compromise and priorities and having kids is no different, just part of growing up and parenting!

So, first in regards to Kindergarten, this has been a scary step for me as I have always dreaded my kids going into Elementary school. I think part of my fears came around knowing it could be a tough transition for Rowen and we had already struggled with preschool and really a lot of programs with him. Plus the fact that it is fairly routine and means being organized in the morning and giving up our sporadic fun days. However I am incredibly proud of my son for making such progress that we are entering Elementary School with his peers.

Support to transition to Kindergarten actually started months ago and has included having “extra” preschool mornings where he has gone in and joined his class at activities at his Elementary School. I love that his preschool offers this and does Kinder-buddies, where the kids are actually in there future classrooms with there future teachers and playing with the older kids. They also do Grade 6 buddies and finally they do Hymn in the gym with the whole class, so they have experienced a sort of assembly. I think this is unique to our school as our preschool and elementary school are somewhat connected, and are also private. However I wish more schools were able to do some form of this for transitioning kids moving from preschool to elementary school as this is such a natural transition and gives the kids time in a really comfortable way to adapt.

Recently we ordered Rowens uniforms so he has time to touch, see and try them on and get used to the idea that this is what he will wear to school.

The biggest thing that I am super impressed by and really excited about is the parent night we attended. This was a huge support to me, that now means I am better able to support Rowen. We were given individual packages with specific activities to each child based on an assessment they did with the Kindergarten teacher. These activities are things we can do through out the summer to get him ready for Kindergarten. His package also included a picture book showing Rowen his actual classroom, school, teacher, principal, sensory room, gym, gym teacher and really anyone he will see regularly. It was amazing. In addition we have met the teacher he will have, the classes are already assigned and he was paired up with one of his favourite friends as another support to help make them both feel comfortable. Rowen will have a full time support worker who in the beginning will make sure to meet Rowen at the school door each day and we are arriving a little later than the rest of the school to avoid the big crowds and loud noises, this was the schools suggestion and one I appreciate so much. Plus, his modified entry schedule has already been give to us for the first week of school and is specific to him and his needs including accommodating his other program he attends.

I think the fact that Rowen is able to have a full time support worker through his first year of school is really going to be a game changer for us. Rowen is an big emotions guys and supporting him can not only be a full time job but it can also be exhausting and draining. I cannot imagine an Kindergarten teacher being able to manage all the kids in her class and give Row the attention he sometimes needs.

These all seem like simple ideas but I know that these simple ideas are not always the case when it comes to school and that you have to be proactive and assertive to get some of these things. I am so grateful for the ease this is making starting Kindergarten as we all know with kids there are already so many unknowns and surprises. I appreciate the support our school is already giving us and Rowen and can not wait to see what else is to come.

We are also so well supported in his other programs, OT and ABA are always helping us with stuff at home or coming up with ways we can support Rowen to attend school stuff that he might find difficult, birthday parties and the latest is joining a Rugby team. Sometimes the support we give Rowen is just sitting with him at these events and letting him know we are there for him if he needs us and we can just watch until he wants to take part. I am amazed at how this technique has recently allowed us to participate in Sports Day, to walk across the stage at his little graduation and then sit up with his peers and sing some songs, and so much more.

For other parents who are in the trenches and struggling with whatever life is thrown you remember you do not have to be in this alone, always ask for help when you need it! Support is more than just for our kids and it is amazing what is accomplished when we are all supported. We all get frustrated or have big expectations but do not forget how little our children are and try to adjust our expectations or give them some support… maybe its giving them more time, or an extra hug or knowing they don’t have to do everything independently at first, they are still learning. Every child is different, so they will have different needs but trust your extinct no one knows your child better than you!