Checking In On Your Goals

As Illinois begins to move forward, it is time for a check-in on where the quarantine goals are at.  Illinois has been under some kind of stay at home order since March so the question is now, what have we done with the time off? This unknown world has caused many people to lose jobs, have increased anxiety, increased depression, and the list goes on, but are there any positives we can look to during this time that can be celebrated

For me personally, I was actually kind of excited at the prospect of a stay at home order on some levels, more time at home with my young children and more family time, even if it included e-learning.  I set goals for myself of what I wanted to accomplish with my children, however, as a parent of a child with special needs my goals were likely a little different than most.  

Children with special needs are in a unique situation during this stay at home order, which is new and different for everyone.  Keeping children with special needs engaged in appropriate activities can be challenging, however, add the pressures of working from home, e-learning, etc. and it can feel like an impossible task.  

When we first started, I sent some ‘special consideration for children with special needs’ and I feel that it is an appropriate time to do a check-in.  I gave some of my concerns and my goals and now that in Illinois we are in Phase 4, how are parents feeling? 

The soon to be new school year has many parents feeling anxious.  Will the children go back to school, will there be a hybrid, will it be full-time e-learning?  Will my child wear a mask?  Will the mask be required?  So many questions come to mind as we all try to limp along this newly developing road.  

As we wait for the final say regarding school, remember that setting goals short term might be what is best for your child, including a child with special needs.  Below are a few things that I have learned throughout this process that might be helpful or feel free to send other ideas too!

  1. My children are extremely particular in their food/beverage desires.  The good news is that options for locating these items have increased significantly as we have moved along in this new reality.  In the beginning, I struggled with product limits and delivery times and felt it was almost a full-time job trying to secure the necessities for my children. The positive news is that in my experience, the industries have adjusted to meet demand!  This means that I can now rest assured that my children’s new food love (it changes weekly I swear) can be met in a timely manner. 
  2. E-learning is on hiatus, however, in order to keep their little minds moving, we have put up posters all over with ABCs, 123s, sight words, and the like to keep them learning.  We just randomly ask them to review these items.  For example, with my daughter, we put her sight words on the snack cabinet.  Before she can grab a snack, she reviews her sight words.  My son practices his ABCs while riding his tricycle.   More than ever, reviewing these items seemed important since last school year was lighter than normal. Refreshers are never a bad idea anyhow. 
  3. The libraries are starting to operate!  I have heard of take-home activities from various libraries, online reading hours, etc.  Check out your local library for free summer activities!   Even some of the museums are doing virtual summer camps.  While I understand the thought of forcing your child to pay attention to an online camp might seem overwhelming, these activities are engaging and a give your child a chance to do something they might not otherwise do.  Some of these camps might logistically not be possible due to location or hours but now with them being remote, they are possible. 
  4. Creative activities.  I don’t know about anyone else but my online shopping has left me with boxes upon boxes.  While I find it annoying, my kids are loving all these boxes to play with.  They have made cars, spaceships, baby beds, houses, you name it, those boxes have endless possibilities.  My daughter also keeps asking to do “science experiments.”  I did a quick google search and found several blogs with at-home science projects.  Some are a bit too advanced for her so Mom and Dad have to intervene, but she has loved learning new things.  One of the major skills my child with special needs has to develop is scissor skills.  We are not encouraging her to gift wrap her toys, making her cut the wrapping paper, for practice.  We of course then have to pretend it’s her birthday or Christmas so she can open her presents.  It is a super fun way for her to practice her scissor skills!  We have found more success in thinking about why the therapies at school are needed and try to practice fun, but practical applications, rather than trying to do actual therapy exercises.  

When my husband and I were first starting out, he took a second job to help pay expenses and when I asked him how he was going to handle it he said, “I can do anything for a year.”  This has now become my mantra, while it might be longer than a year, we will get through this.  We just need to think creatively, focus on the positives, and get through this.  At this time, it might be time to set new goals for the quarantine, as I know that I have accomplished most of mine that I previously set.  It is time to refocus and redirect.  I recently saw a meme, that said: “while we might be tired of quarantine, you know who isn’t tired, the virus.”  The virus isn’t gone and we still have to be diligent in following protocols and adapting to the ‘new normal’ as ever-changing as it is.  The more positive about the future we can be, the more receptive our children will be too.  

P.S. As an update on the chocolate milk situation from my first blog, our supply is set and has been pacifying all!

Written by Amy A. Schellekens

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