People ask me what it’s like raising two boys with special needs, and I usually reply: “our life is a moving train that never slows down!” We are always busy. From medical appointments, to after-school therapies, to the additional challenges presented by our boys conditions, life can be stressful, draining, and even lonely at times.
Two things help us navigate our day-to-day: First, when we think we have nothing left to give, our faith in God guides us, pushing us to go a little further forward each day. Second, my husband (Brad) and I are a team, and that’s what keeps things from falling apart. I work, and Brad is working towards a Master’s degree (in addition to his full time job), so we share the workload in a way that prioritizes our kids and avoids either of us feeling overextended.
- We type it up.
As dorky as it may sound, Brad and I sit down with our calendars in hand and we discuss everything–school, therapies, appointments, work or graduate school commitments. We schedule in family time each week, where we pick a fun activity to do together. We make time for each other every night (an hour or so together before our day ends), and a date night every week–usually Friday after we put the kids to bed–with a plan to go out one Friday a month. We also schedule a monthly night out with friends (sometimes with our kids and theirs, sometimes adults only), along with one or two much-needed weekends away during the year. Those are times for us to rest, recharge, and be “just us” for a couple of days while our kids are cared for by family and close friends— thanks, support system! We type it up and post it because we know if we don’t then life will take over and our plans never become a reality.
- We talk it over.
We constantly communicate with each other regarding what’s happening with the kids. When I pick them up from school, we FaceTime Brad and talk about how their day went. When Brad comes home and the therapy session for one of the boys has not gone well, I fill him in on everything. When I’m working and one of the boys has a behavioral issue while Brad is getting him ready for bed, he makes sure I know what took place during my absence. This communication is good for us and the kids. It teaches them that “daddy” and I are a unit, and they know both of us are always caught up to speed with everything in their lives.
- We tag in and out.
All the work in our home is shared, from the parenting to the household duties. In the mornings, Brad makes sure the boys are showered and dressed, I do after school and therapy pick-ups, and we split homework duties depending on our schedules. One of us makes breakfast while the other packs lunches. One of us mops floors while the other cleans dishes. We take turns doing laundry and making grocery runs. By working together, it isn’t likely that one of us will get burned out and resent the other. I believe this is one of the reasons why we have a strong marriage! We know we aren’t alone in this. We know we have each other; we are true partners.
Raising children with special needs can be burdensome on each parent when they don’t embrace life’s ups and downs together. For us, depending on God, while consistently leaning on one another, makes all the difference.
– Jackie Hauer, Springible Contributor