How to raise a child with special needs as a single parent and juggle everything else.

So it’s no secret I have a lot going on. I’m a single parent, I have two small children and one happens to be disabled. On top of this I’m a student Midwife, a peer supporter and all round busy bee. It’s a juggling act but I manage. I was asked how I do it all…

This isn’t an easy question to answer. I’m not sure I can really do it justice as I don’t entirely know. But here goes:

  • Always say yes. If someone offers you help, say yes. Don’t be a martyr.
  • Prioritise and don’t waste energy. You don’t have to do it all. Find ways to make your life easier. Get a dishwasher, hire a cleaner, get your Mum to do your ironing 😜.
  • Accept how you’re feeling is okay. It’s okay to think it’s really unfair. It’s okay to feel really sad, admitting that to yourself and accepting that it’s okay to feel the way you do is half the battle.
  • Learn to fight. You won’t get anywhere until you learn when to stand up and fight for what your child needs. Never let them fob you off and never back down.
  • Have PJ days. You don’t have to be out and about all of the time. It’s okay to stay home and chill out. Kids need down time too so don’t feel guilty if you’re all still in your pjs way past lunch.
  • Don’t do it on your own. Find your tribe. Tilly has a team of around 50 people who support me to raise her. Family, friends, teachers, support staff, nurses and paediatricians.
  • Celebrate every little thing. We have a roast or sit and watch a film cuddled up eating snacks every time something positive happens. Life is for celebrating after all.
  • On a similar note always plan something to look forward to. Even if it’s a quick coffee with your friend, life is more bearable if you know something fun is on the horizon.
  • Self care self care self care. Treat yourself. Do a face mask, have a bath, get your brows done, buy the shoes, go and walk the dog. Do what makes you happy.
  • Try not to stress. Stress helps no one and it makes you ill. Write a list of what you need to do, tick it off and then go and have a lie down. It’s okay to delay filling in that form or making phone call that makes you want to cry for a few days.

But most of all, talk about it. Talk about how you’re feeling, talk to others in similar positions, talk and laugh with your friends. Always talk.

Blackberry Picking and Nervous Shits – An Unexpected Tale. 

Hold tight. Here we go. 
I stupidly set myself a challenge this summer to be #brave 🙄 and carpe the diem! No more hiding in the safe confines of the house or the local park. The Unexpected family are on a stupid mission to break down the invisible barriers of single parenting a volatile SEN child and her arsehole brother. So we began. 
Today it has been chucking it down here in sunny Costa Del Gosport. Seeing as Tilly kindly broke the TiVo box and I “spring cleaned” (read as drank a glass of wine and threw out a lot of stuff) all the good DVDs… the paw patrol DVD on loop was wearing thin by the middle of the morning. I probably would’ve called it a PJ day but it’s likely I would’ve chucked the TV or a child out of the window if I had to ponder why there’s a town somewhere where they rely on a child and his puppies to save them from ridiculous events every day. Where are Ryder’s parents? Are they dead? Why hasn’t anyone commented on the mayor being unstable…? Is it all symbolic of the afterlife? Why is there only one girl pup? The questions go on and on and on. So PJ day was cancelled. Plus I had this stupid #brave challenge to do. Ugh. 
Much screaming, sweating, shouting and wrestling later, all three small gingers were loaded up into the car ready to take the pup for a walk. We got there, I managed to unload and rebuilt the massive buggy complete with stupid buggy board and massive raincover and loaded children onto it and off we went. Ten paces down the path into the woods I realised my first mistake. I was wearing sliders. Bloody sliders. In wet and windy woods. The kids were wrapped up in their coats and wellies and there I was, in just a dress and sliders, I had forgotten to pack myself anything practical. The ultimate symbol of motherhood that. We will pretend it was my self sacrifice and not my utter lack of preparation that caused this. 
For the next half an hour or so, all was well. Arlo enjoyed every puddle, Tilly enjoyed sitting in her chariot and the dog enjoyed his ball. Off we wandered into the woods and up the hill. Lovely. A few ankle deep puddles, but as it turned out, sliders are great for the woods, my feet were dry again in minutes. Score. 

It was on the way back that disaster struck. About five minutes from the car was a little bridge over a river/duck pond with a little island about four metres from the path. Determined to tire the dog out, I threw the ball into the pond for a few minutes whilst he dove in and brought it back. Then for some unknown reason, the stupid pea brain decided to get up onto the little island and then decided he was stuck. Here he is: 

Cue chaos. One dog woofing and crying. One Arlo attempting to drown himself in the pond and one Tilly joining in with the noise for good measure. A crowd formed, well meaning dog walkers offered suggestions on how to get the stupid dog to remember he could indeed swim and hop off the little island and come back. Oh no. The dog continued to cry and bark. And then it happened. Right in front of a whole crowd of people, my darling dog, the one I take loving pictures of and post all over instagram, projectile shat ALL OVER the little island. Ever seen the exorcist? Yeah. Like that. Mortified. “Bless him he must be nervous” one dog walker kindly remarked. Yeah, nervous I was going to drop kick him into the swans and let them eat him. 😑
 He continued his one dog drama show for another ten minutes, whilst I calculated whether or not I liked him enough to wade out and get the idiot ( I don’t, that was never happening) until finally another dog stole his ball and he jumped in like it was no bother at all. Little bastard. He trotted off up the path, oblivious to the thirty minute shit show hed just staged. Bastard. 
Things improved, I introduced Arlo to the art of blackberry picking “red ones make you poo, low ones taste like doggy wee” was our mantra and now I will be spending the next fortnight trying to get blackberry stains out of Tilly’s clothes 😣.

Still, week one of #brave challenge done and no one died so… job done ✅