1. Self-Care. You, as primary caregiver, are going to need a minimum of 5 hours for self-care. That’s things like putting gas in the car, buying groceries, catching up on sleep, and at least one hour to do something just for yourself, without any kids in tow. For me, that’s therapy. But it could be walking, crotchet, reading a book, soaking in a tub. Just something that has to do with self-care. Cause when momma/poppa ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.
2. Caregivers versus programs. Who cares for the kids in those 5 hours a week? Maybe you’ve got a willing family member, or maybe not. If not, you’re going to have to either develop some caring friends really quick, or perhaps start budgeting for a regular caregiver. Another option is to utilize summer programs (camps, VBS, etc.) for your needs. For more about summer programs, check out the next blog.
3. One Page. A friend of ours turned us onto the “One Page” – a description of our child that we can give to caregivers, camp and VBS directors, and school system personnel in the fall. It’s been extremely helpful to be able to differentiate how my children’s diagnosis affects how they succeed in new situations. This is one of the best essentials we use during the summertime.
4. Go Bag. This is the bag that’s filled with the stuff you and your family can’t live without. Bug spray, sunblock, wet wipes, Band-Aids, a shelf stable snack, a couple bottles of water, a change of clothes, an extra Visa gift card for when you’ve forgotten your purse, a list of important (caregiver and friend) numbers if you find yourself in a pickle.
What are your summertime essentials?
Please note that the experiences we’ve had are Fayette County and surrounding area specific, because that’s where I live. Hopefully this list will inspire you to find resources in your area.
1. FOCUS Camps. Camp Hollywood and Camp TEAM are two camps that have always come through for the special needs communities. I love the “rotating stations” concept of Camp Hollywood, and love the general summer camp feel of Camp TEAM. Contact FOCUS directly to see if your child is eligible for attending. There’s a fee, but trust me, it’s worth it.
2. Regular childcare. Find a sitter now before they are all booked up and invest in at least one afternoon for planned childcare a week. Here at Southside, we’re putting out feelers at local colleges – if you’d like to see the current list (of unscreened candidates) you’re welcome to it. Just report back to us on how you like them.
3. Bounce houses and Chuck E Cheese. Finding locations that limit entrance and exit, are climate controlled, and see rambunctious kids on an hourly basis are a blessing for kids who are high energy need.
4. Art Centers. Personally, we like Bubbles and Brushes because they’ve been openly welcoming to students with disabilities.
5. Fayette 4H Camp Cloverbud. April McDaniel, one of the staff members at the 4H has always been receptive in having students with disabilities attend this camp. It’s an ALL DAY camp, which is a true blessing for those who want a mainly outdoor experience.
6. Therapeutic Horse riding. South of the city, we are known for our abundance of therapeutic riding centers. There’s Haven Hills, Calvin Center, and CORRAL. Heard one member from Southside talk about Honey Creek, but haven’t met them personally yet.
7. Friendship Craze. Sara Parker is an active Southsider and has always encouraged our members to come try Friendship Craze – a short weekly program (or summer camp) that teaches social skills in a fun manner. We especially like it when she turns it into Cooking Craze – who doesn’t like a good snack to go along with a social skills lesson.
8. Parks! You know all the good ones along the Southside – All Children’s in Peachtree City, Newnan Utilities Park, Senoia City Park, YMCA Fayetteville Park, Splash Pad park in Hampton (for residents only), Splash Park in Lagrange. Some hidden ones you may not know about are the indoor play area (fees apply) in Shenanigan’s Toy Store in Peachtree City, Kedron Aquatic Center pool – go after 5PM on a Friday and you’ll have the pool to yourself. Let us know your local favorite.
9. Children’s movie time at local theaters. Many theaters have children’s movie matinees for a nominal fee – check your local theater for their specials.
10. Grandma’s house. Or Aunt Ethel’s. Or cousin Frank’s. Or the neighbor down the street who says you can come by and use their pool anytime. Use ‘em.
Hopefully you’ve got ideas on what to do over the dog days of summer. For your further planning assistance, here’s a handy planning calendar. Enjoy the summer!
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