As a special needs family we are constantly overwhelmed with financial burdens that most other families just don’t grasp. Doctors, therapists, equipment, missed work, surgeries, hospital stays, traveling for appointments, adaptive toys, special swings, replacing items our children break…..I could really go on with this list for a long time! Being able to set aside some money for a family vacation can seem like a hopeless lofty dream we will never reach. Believe me, I know. I’ve been there. Heck, I am there. But friends, today I want to tell you to reach for that dream. Find a plan to make a vacation happen. Because you not only deserve it, you need it!
The benefits of a vacation for anyone go beyond just taking a break. It’s a chance to leave behind the daily grind that is your life. Both you and your spouse leave the office and your time is completely devoted to your family. I believe making memories with our children are far better than giving them things. Plus, they grow up fast!
While on vacation you can explore and have new experiences. Rest, play, and enjoy your family. It’s a great opportunity to forget the daily pressures of your life and just have fun.
These benefits are true for any family, but I believe they are more true for special needs families.
Mental Health Benefits
Special needs parenting is hard guys, but you know that. The stress we are under can consume us at times to the point where we feel there is no way out, no hope, and we are helpless to change it. We know we’ll never escape the reality of our role as special needs parents, but a vacation can help give us some much needed motivation.
For me, a vacation offers huge mental health benefits. Having a trip to plan gives me hope by offering something to look forward to. Knowing there is something fun and enjoyable on the horizon makes the therapies and fights with the insurance company more bearable. I am motivated to keep up the good fight of special needs parenting when I know there is a break coming.
While on vacation we are away from the daily pressures. Yes, a family vacation means our special needs kids are still with us and we still need to care for them; but, we are not going to appointments. We take a break from our daily therapy sessions, stop worrying about what might be in the mailbox from the insurance company, and take time to just breathe and enjoy life as a family. Getting away on a vacation just might be the only time we will ever feel remotely close to a “normal” family.
I cannot stress enough how seeing the joy and excitement on Ladybug’s face when we take a family trip helps refuel my drive to keep fighting and advocating for her. I realize that a vacation is temporary and it doesn’t solve anything permanently. But the benefits I experience in my mental health last long after we get home.
Our Kids Can Be Kids
Often times we focus on the stress of being a special needs parent, but sometimes we need to stop and think of what it’s like to be a special needs kid too. All of the therapies, exercises, positioning equipment, surgeries, x-rays, specialists can be stressful for a child too. Our special needs kids are asked to deal with some pretty intense things at a very young age. Life isn’t just stressful for us, it is on our kids too.
Our kids deserve the opportunity to escape the reality of their world for a few days too. I know their disabilities don’t magically disappear while on vacation, but they need a break from the daily grind too. Everything about our children revolves around their diagnosis. How amazing would it be to them if for a few days they can go enjoy the beach, or theme parks, or see their favorite Disney characters just like every other kid dreams of doing?
Make a Vacation a Priority
Like I said before, as special needs families we are under constant financial pressures most other family will never experience. So how do we make a vacation a priority? After all, our child’s doctor cannot prescribe a vacation (I asked) (yes jokingly…kind of…). I suggest making a plan.
Evaluate your budget, and see if there are any areas you can start setting aside money. Maybe you can give up something that allows you to save. Have a garage sale, instead of birthday/Christmas presents set aside some money for a vacation (still get them something small to open).
A vacation doesn’t need to be big and elaborate. But I do encourage you to make one happen. It will be well worth the sacrifice! It might be difficult, but if you make it a priority you’ll find a way to make it work.