Therapy or Fun? How to know when to "just" be Mom.
Therapy days can be hard and overwhelming. You might be running around all day or hosting multiple people in your home during the week. Therapy can be trying on both us as the parents and on our little ones, as they work hard to reach their goals. That’s why it’s so important to decompress after therapy. I also want to share some tips on creating boundaries around home implementation and prioritizing fun after therapy, because I know how important that is to a family’s wellbeing!
It’s totally possible to have “therapy burnout”
There was a time when I was overdoing it with intervention. People were in our home four days a week and we had multiple out of home therapy appointments, as well. Rory and I both hit a wall after 18 months of this schedule. I had to come up with a new plan.
This is where I implemented my “Three things” rule, which I talked about in this blog about planning. One of the three things was always therapy: if we could knock speech and OT out in the same appointment, I would say yes. But if it fitting them both in required us to come back or add an at-home visit, we said no.
I have a flexible schedule: I’m able to limit our intervention to daytime hours, but you may not be, especially if both parents work “traditional hours.” My advice to those who don’t have flexible schedules or daytime availability? Make sure you have boundaries around intervention — regardless of the hours you schedule. Watch your frequency and make sure therapy appointments or visits are paced out in a way that makes sense for your family.
How do you do that? By planning ahead.
How to plan ahead for therapy days
The key to our successful therapy days is always planning ahead. I take care of the must-do tasks, like cleaning and cooking, beforehand. This will help you have an easier night or next day. On longer therapy days followed by evening sports, for example, I knew cooking was going to be the last thing I wanted to do. Evan and I would make plans ahead to order in or meal prep. Dinner kits like Home Chef or Blue Apron have been a lifesaver when I can’t think about digging through recipes or making shopping lists on more demanding weeks.
How to unwind after a therapy day
Therapy is a huge priority for any child who has special needs. But constant therapy appointments and implementation can be exhausting. Make sure you keep family life a priority. It can’t be all work and no play when it comes to parenting!
We didn’t get into this to be bus drivers, therapists, and cooks. When we dreamed of parenthood, we thought of milestones, celebrations, adventures, and tender moments with our children. It can be super easy to fall into the grind. I am the first to admit I’ve been there many times.
Sometimes you need to cancel all the “to-dos” and have some fun. Pizza night on the floor with games, movies in the driveway ,or an impromptu trip out of town are all ways we’ve decompressed from a hectic therapy schedule. Remembering why we took parenting on is easier when we get back to the fun of it all.
Celebrate your child’s progress!
I think that tracking therapy goals can also help us put those crazy appointment schedules into perspective. Rory’s progress is slow, and I have had times where I feel I have poured hours into helping her reach a milestone and see no progress. Using my therapy tracking sheets shows me that, little by little, we are getting there.