We got a call the other day to provide respite care for a little girl in a legal risk placement. It was actually a call to be on standby, and the respite care wasn’t needed after all. It got my wheels turning. I think most parents in legal risk situations are afraid to ask for help. I was so impressed with these parents asking their social worker to help them!
Whether a sibling group arrives when you already have children or whether those siblings are your first children, it can be daunting. Most people do not build their family three kids at a time. And while the children may not be infants, emotionally sometimes they are. Right now, on an emotional level, my 2-, 3- and 5-year-olds are at the same level. And of course that level is at about the 2-1/2-year-old level. So while they are physically bigger than 2-1/2, it’s like having three 2-year-olds. In the 2 years they’ve been here, their behaviors have calmed down, and we’ve developed ways to deal with the stress. New families don’t have that advantage.
This is why respite care was invented. And this is why it’s so important. If you have a child (of any age, really) who is throwing one tantrum after another or who tantrums for a solid hour or who has other extreme behaviors, you may eventually need a day or two to regroup. And there is absolutely no shame in that! In fact, that would be the responsible decision.
Another good reason for respite care is that you need to keep your marital relationship as a priority. This is so hard to do when you have kids depending on you. And while I am certain it is important in any marriage, it’s doubly important in these situations because they can be so stressful. If you two fall apart, that doesn’t help anyone. My hubby and I agreed to get away alone every year or two. The first time we went for 3 days; in August, it will for 8 days. Our respite care providers love our kids like their own, and while it is stressful for the kids to be away from us, it is also really good for them because we come back rejuvenated and reconnected.
If you have been at this a while, take advantage of that respite care! If you are just getting started in the process, think about who will be a reliable helper for you and line them up! (I tend to look at families with lots of kids since they seem to handle the stress of three, four or five more a little more easily.) And take that Mommy and Daddy time out. You all deserve it!