Parenting

How to balance your child's therapy with family time

Anchel talks about the ongoing challenges of Syona’s hectic schedule.

When I was pregnant I swore that I would never be one of those parent’s that had an over-scheduled child. I think the road to parenting is paved with a lot of “I’ll never be that kind of parent” statements.

What I quickly learned was to avoid saying “I’ll never” when I talk about parenting because you really have no idea what life is going to throw your way.

And while I still don’t see the value of filling your child’s schedule with an endless list of extracurricular activities and sacrificing all of their free time, Syona’s schedule is jam-packed and highly organized (more than I ever would have expected).

We have two pockets of time to play with every day: before lunch and after her nap. Our current roster includes preschool, weekly physiotherapy and conductive education. Any additional therapies, assessments and medical appointments are fit in as needed. We also have a long list of goals (gross motor, fine motor, cognitive and speech) that we’re working towards that require time and hands-on activity. Plus, Syona is just a kid and we try and get outside on a daily basis. Meeting up with other mommies and kiddos is sporadic and mostly happens after Syona’s naptime. And since Syona loves the water, we’ve booked in a block of weekly swimming lessons as well (which is a bonus since swimming is good for her muscles).

And though many of these activities are directly correlated to Syona’s special needs, we’ve consciously tried to strike a balance between therapy and living our lives as a family. It is so easy to get swept away into the endless paediatric therapy abyss — there is method after method available for our children, provided parents have the time and money to do so. And as a parent of a child with special needs it is really easy to fear what will happen if we don’t do it all. But at a certain point you have to figure out what actually works for you and for your child.

For us, this started at the beginning of September. I took a few weeks and nailed down a regular weekly schedule so we could develop a nice routine — something that was seriously lacking in our lives.

And it’s worked out well. Syona does well with the structure and we’ve hit a great balance in terms of being at home vs. being out. And I take my cues from her. When it gets to be a bit too much, or she’s acting up because she just needs some downtime, we adjust our schedule and make sure we take time to just play together.

This fall is flying by. While we’re celebrating Diwali in our house this week (Happy Diwali to those of you that celebrate this festival of lights!) I’m also starting to organize our winter schedule. And I’ve come up with a game plan to ensure that our schedule stays organized, manageable and allows us to enjoy our lives. It’s my own personal “one in, one out” rule. Now I am sure that many of you use this concept with toys (i.e. when your child gets a new toy, he or she is required to choose one to donate). It keeps your home organized (ha!) and teaches a great lesson to your kiddo. I’m applying this same rule to our lives. I’m not adding anything to our schedule unless I take something else away.

What do you think of our new rule? How do you manage your child’s activities?

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