Anyone with young children will tell you that getting a night away takes a bit of planning and of course, a lot of luck. Those of us with children with Autism will tell you it also requires the stars to align, a full moon, and the help of family and friends. Taking a night off for respite is very important for caregivers. For me it is the glue that holds me together when my stress starts to get to me.
I have a few rules I follow to get the most out of my nights “off”:
- Sleep somewhere other than my house, preferably somewhere with a comfortable bed, and no children
- Spend time with a friend who understands my situation and won’t be hurt if I fall asleep at 10pm but will also stay up and drink wine into the wee hours should the mood strike
- Treat myself to something I don’t normally get to do (this is as simple as a $40 mani/pedi and a nice bottle of wine)
- Don’t call home to check in and don’t feel bad about it
- Sleep in the next morning, have a great breakfast, and don’t come home until at least noon
- Make sure that my husband has a night off planned in the near future so I can start planning my next respite break!
The hardest part about my current situation is that my husband and I are not able to get away together. Our 4-year-old son needs at least one of us to be home with him to manage his bedtime routine and his morning routine. It wouldn’t be fair to him or anyone else to put him in a situation where he would be upset or confused by the fact that his parents weren’t there for him. My hope is that one day we’ll be able to get away on our own, but for now, I take my nights of respite when I get them (and thoroughly enjoy them).