Respite Vacation at Home

Respite Vacation at Home

Have you ever considered having a solitary respite vacation at home? 

Seems like an oxymoron concept, right? Vacations are supposed to be AWAY from home to be a real vacation.  How can you truly take a respite vacation at home when it reminds you of all you need to do?

Well, that depends on your definition of “vacation”.

If it’s defined as a chance to explore new places and seek thrills, then yes, that makes sense.

But if “vacation” means gaining a new perspective and just relax, then you don’t have to seek it elsewhere.

For five whole days, my entire family was gone.  While they were at different camps, I was by myself at home.  As in…alonewith no one around…to need me.

It was amazing to find solace in my entire house for more than a day. And not just in a bathroom locked away to escape the kids for a few seconds!

In other words, I experienced the pure bliss of SOLITUDE!

For me, that describes a respite vacation at home perfectly.  When you get to a point in your life when you actually fantasize being a jail for a little while just to escape the pressures of home-life, then you NEED a respite away from others!

Respite doesn’t have to be expensive or far from where you live.

In fact, I encourage you to consider taking some time to be by yourself in the comforts of your own home.

 

Take nature walks during your respite vacation

Why a “solitude vacation” is “what the doctor ordered”

Have you ever wondered what daily life would be without someone else needing you every second of the day?

I can’t describe how lighter I feel by not having to worry about the demands of anyone else but my own.  At least just for a little while.

Well, that’s not entirely true…

I still maintained a semi-normal routine: I still had dogs, cats and chickens to feed.  And I did do laundry and dishes… only ONCE this week! I did cook…a few times.

BUT…I didn’t have to pick up and put away loose articles of papers, clothing, or shoes that weren’t mine.  I didn’t have to run errands for someone else. I didn’t have to take someone to therapy or scouts or band or piano lesson.

I visited places I wanted to go, when I wanted to go.  I could drive to another city and visit a friend. I could stay up and sleep in. Or, go to bed early and rise early…all because I could.

To a person without kids, the idea of staying at home but still having to work in the yard doesn’t sound like a vacation.

But to any parent of children, no matter how many, no matter what age and size, no matter their abilities or disabilities…BEING ALONE IS A VACATION!

 

Relax with a book during your vacation at home

Get into the “respite mindset” at home

Since you don’t have the distractions of serving and caring for others, you have more free time.  How you want to use that free time is now your own choice. You don’t have to fit it into your schedule around others’ needs.

You do need to adopt the attitude that your home-space can be a vacation-space.  That means letting go of obligations that haunt you into feeling guilt if you don’t do them. It may take a day or two to unwind to figure out how to take a respite vacation at home. Be kind to yourself!

First, what are your end-goals for respite? 

  • Figure out what you want to get out of your time in blissful solitary confinement at home. How do you want to feel by the end of the week? Do you want to feel calm and at peace? Do you want to feel more energy and alive?  Do you want to gain a greater appreciation and gratitude for the blessings in your life? Do you want to feel more spiritually centered?

 

  • Be aware of how you feel when doing certain things. If the act of performing a certain task itself brings you joy, then by all means do it. If the process only adds to your stress, forget it! For example, putting clutter away and doing some light cleaning at the start of my respite brings me to joy and peace to see order out of chaos. But I am not about to spend a whole day or week doing that.  Blah!

Second, what are the means to achieve your respite goals?

  • Create two different lists: “Tasks to NOT do” as well as “Tasks you want to do”. Drop certain task your normally do (like laundry) or at least minimize the time you spend on them if they stress you out. Maximize your time for things you always wanted to do but normally can’t with life’s constant distractions (like taking a whole day for reading your favorite novel or journaling).

 

  • If you have some long-term “bucket list” goals, consider using this time to start working on those. Do you want to create new healthier habits? Do you want to reconnect with others you hardly get to see?  Do you want to organize the mass of family photos in shoeboxes? This period of respite could enable you to gain the momentum to form new habits that will carry you through the more hectic days.  Just as long as you have JOY in doing those things!

 

  • Here are some specific things I did with my time: (Feel free to steal ideas…)
    • Visiting with close friends without rushing back home
    • Jumping on my son’s trampoline
    • Laying outside and daydreaming as I watch the clouds go by
    • Mowing the lawn (no joke, I actually enjoyed this)
    • Sipping on a Frappacino at Starbucks while working on my blog
    • Doing DVD exercises in which the instructor is in a gorgeous tropical setting
    • Organizing my computer desk while watching Netflix comedians
    • Hearing a political figure discuss foreign policy at my local university
    • Participating in webinars that teach about cool vacation destinations
    • Dealing with a thieving racoon at 3 am (okay…that was not on my to-do list)

 

Invite a friend over for tea during your respite

Recruit others to “lift your load”

Let me guess.  You’re probably thinking, Just exactly how am I supposed to get alone-time?

All I can say is…find ways to MAKE IT HAPPEN!

If we as autism parents don’t ask for help in the first place, it’s never going to come.

1. Take advantage of respite camps!

For me, it has become a lot easier now that my kids are teens. We can take advantage of opportunities built for this purpose.  My daughter attended an autism camp about an hour away.  Not only does it help her build self-confidence and independence skills, but it is designed to provide respite for special-needs parents.

2. Find local special needs day camps.

I urge you to contact local or state autism or special-needs advocacy groups for more information on opportunities like this.   Some YMCAs even offer day-camps for special needs kids. If you can’t get an overnight break, then at least a day-long respite would suffice.

3. Get respite help through the Medicaid Waiver.

The Medicaid waiver provides respite as a service for parents.  Find an agency that hires skilled workers you trust.  Some agencies may even permit you to use allotted respite hours over a few days instead of a couple hours per week. If you trust your respite worker with your child overnight, then try at least a day or two away to see how that arrangement works.

4. Ask family or friends!  By all means bribe them if you have to!

For one week my parents took care of our two kids when they toddlers. I went with my husband to the Walt Disney World area for a couples-respite. I didn’t even step foot in the parks. I de-stressed in solitude at the resort while my husband was at work conference.  In the evenings we had fun and reconnected after the last few years of 24-hour baby care.

Since then, I have asked family, maybe once or twice a year, to take my kids overnight for a few days.  They get to enjoy their grandkids more, and we get a much-needed parenting break.

5. Hire special needs caregivers.

Other avenues include hiring caregivers from companies located on the internet.  An Indiana mom started a company called Synapsesitters after she had a hard time locating someone knowledgeable about autism.   Another company to consider is Care.com, in which you can hire sitters and nannies who have experience with special needs.

Ask your therapy agencies for help in locating good help.  Undoubtedly, they have clients who have probably requested the same thing. They may be able to recommend certain websites or local services over others.

 

Treat yourself to a spa day during your respite vacation

Drop the “parent guilt”…and GO FOR IT!

I love, love, LOVE my respite!  I feel refreshed and de-stressed.  The daily routine doesn’t feel like a heavy burden. When I see my husband and kids again, I appreciate them more because I missed them. This time also helps me recognize unhealthy parenting habits that I need to change.

Too many autism parents neglect their personal need for respite. The excuses?

No one understands my child’s needs. I don’t have money or time for that.  No one is around to help me. My child absolutely needs me all the time.

Guess what? Your child will survive without you for a little while! The compounding stress of daily life without a break over weeks, months, or even years may make you resentful or make interacting with your autistic child more frustrating.

Recognize when you need to take a step back to renew your mind, body and perspective on life.  Plan respite time far out in advance like a real vacation.

Do EVERYONE a favor, but especially yourself:  take advantage of a respite vacation at home and all the benefits it will bring to you and your family!

For a wonderful therapeutic getaway in an ethereal setting, visit Hocking Hills State Park in Ohio. Perfect for a family or friends vacation…but also great for taking time for yourself!

 

Why Autism Families Need Vacations

Why Autism Families Need Vacations

 

Why Autism Families NEED Vacations Like Everyone Else

It’s actually not hard to explain why autism families need vacations, considering the challenges that they go through on a daily basis.  Vacations provide respite to relieve stress and encourage greater family bonds through fun.

I’ll be honest. My heart BROKE when I read this one particular statistic about autism families:

When surveyed by an autism affiliated travel organization, 87% of autism families stated they did NOT take vacations within the last THREE YEARS.* 

Why?!

 

Why Autism Families DON’T Take Vacations

For some people vacation is not a priority. They never took one as a child and don’t see the necessity now.  For others, vacation is only a dream because they cannot financially afford it.

And then there are those families who want one and can afford it but who just don’t go.

Perhaps they believe that vacations would only add to their stress, not take it away. They believe they could not handle the possibilities of even more meltdowns.

They tell themselves…“someday”.

Maybe many autism families are not aware of the greater number of accommodations that are now in place at popular vacation destinations.

Or they don’t realize that their autistic loved one may be totally capable of handling the change of scenery with the right preparation.

By not taking vacations—even smaller staycations on a semi-frequent basis—autism families lose out.

They miss out on opportunities to positively change the family dynamics, especially when they experience high levels of daily stress in the home.

 

Top 5 Reasons Why Autism Families NEED Vacations

If you are part of an autism family that is hesitant about taking vacations, take a moment to reflect upon these reasons why you MUST take a vacation.

1. Vacations create precious memories.

A unique setting away from home will almost guarantee that you will remember your time there.  Was there something you saw that was awe-inspiring?  What was the look on your loved one’s faces when they witnessed it as well?  Were there moments of laughter?

We love looking at our facial expressions in photos after we rode thrilling attractions at Walt Disney World…cracks us up!  Sure, there will be trying times in a new environment.

But there is nothing like reminiscing over moments of pure joy you’ve captured through videos and photos to make it through tough days at home.

Take lots of pictures of your trips. Have conversations at home about what happened during your travels. Use these as a springboard to plan another exciting vacation.

If making memories at home is few and far between, it’s time to take a vacation!

2. Vacations mean greater family bonding.

Ever heard of the phrase, “a family that plays together stays together”?  I heartily believe in this.

Everyone needs a break from the daily grind that keeps family members apart, especially when life gets too serious from school, work, or other obligations.

Playing together brings families closer and reminds them what is really important in life: enjoying each other’s company.

My son and I really bond over riding our favorite attraction at Disney’s Hollywood Studios: Hollywood Tower of Terror.  He acts like a dramatic storyteller giving me the backdrop narrative as we walk through the queue to be seated.  His excitement is so infectious that I can’t help but share in it. Then we rush back to the rest of the family to tell them all about what happened on the ride.

Joyful interaction leads to greater bonding, and vacations are the secret recipe for joy!

3. Vacations are therapy.

I strongly believe that vacation is another form of therapy that is necessary for the social, mental, emotional and even physical health of everyone in the family.

When people are placed in new environments it can be a challenge, just like a new therapy.

But many parents have reported amazing strides from their autistic children while on vacations, even at places like Disney.  Some spoke new words. Some showed greater resilience to a new schedule and sensory input.

When a child is truly enthralled to be in a place that is tremendously fun and has characters he or she loves, often he or she will show greater motivation and effort to communicate that excitement and to transition better.

My daughter showed a increased willingness to step out of her comfort zone during our past trip to Walt Disney World by going on attractions she would have never dared step foot in before—she went on Space Mountain 3 times with her brother, long after my husband and I pooped out.

We are always amazed at the amount of positive behavioral changes that come with each new visit.  Personal growth that would have taken several therapy sessions to achieve happened within one single vacation!

4. Vacations inspire creativity.

A relaxed mind, body and spirit means being more receptive to creative ideas.  Exciting destinations and natural environments stimulate “out-of-the-box” thinking that can inspire people to consider new directions in their personal lives.

And that inspiration continues long after you get home from vacation.

For my autistic teens, being at Walt Disney World inspired them to develop public speaking skills playing Walt Disney World tour guides in speech therapy and to create Disney-like symphonies in music therapy.

My son writes fan fiction inspired by the Disney stories, and my daughter draws cartoon characters inspired by the characters.

Those vacations motivated me to become a travel planner as I obsessed about the history and amenities of the parks.

Every time we go our excitement for the park experience grows and fulfills our need for creative inspiration.

5. Because life is short!

Do you ever look back on the past wishing you made a different choice?

Many people often regret that they didn’t take time out to do what they really wanted to do, and taking more vacations is one of them.

Vacations give people a better perspective on their lives, something that is hard to do at home. The respite from vacation allows them to do several things:

  • contemplate what really matters
  • take stock of what they need to do to further their purpose and fulfill their dreams
  • analyze if something they are doing in their daily lives is really worth the effort.

Knowing that her time on earth was short, my sister took a “bucket-list” vacation to the Fiji Islands.  She took as many opportunities to see the world within the year before she died. I know she left very happy and fulfilled.

As some have said, “we only have today”. So, go out and explore the world today with your family.

Don’t short-change yourself…“seize the day”!

 

More Autism Accommodations than Ever Before

There is much greater awareness of the needs of autism are in the public consciousness. And more vacation destinations are stepping up to assist more effectively.

Cruises now cater to families with different sensory needs.  Theme parks include information and accommodations to help those on the spectrum.  And many destinations are become certified autism centers.

There are simply fewer reasons NOT to take a vacation in light of the fact that more destinations are becoming autism-friendly.

I understand that you may be afraid to take that leap into a strange environment with a child who craves routine and structure.  Here are some tips to help you face those vacation fears!

If you are looking for even MORE reasons to take a vacation, check out this article “What Taking a Vacation Does to Your Body and Brain”.

 

Experience a Well-Rounded Life through Travel

Will you “seize” the opportunity to make memories?

Do you want to forge greater bonds with your family?

Would you like to experience the potential therapeutic benefits through exploration of a new destination?

Do you and your family desire to be creatively inspired?

Are you super ready let go of the stress that is keeping you and your family from feeling connected?

If yes to any or all, then start planning that vacation…TODAY! 

 

I would love to be a part of your vacation planning!  Just click on this link for a free travel consultation!

*Source: ibcces.org