What other families do – a single child with special needs

This post has been contributed by a lovely reader of the blog as part of an ongoing series “What other families do”. You can find more posts in this series here.  Marta also featured on my podcast, so you can find out even more about how her family manages the chaos of family life in this family life episode 27: on choosing to stay home full time.

A little bit about you and the family

My name is Marta. My family is made up of two parents and one child. I am at home full time. Our son has been diagnosed as being on the Autism Spectrum Disorder.

What key routines are currently working for your family?

The weekdays routine usually involve me helping my son to get ready for school in the morning, we have been using and sticking to a set morning routine chart. Hubby and I then dropped him off to a school bus pick up point. Hubby then goes to work, and I continue with my daily household tasks (cleaning, tidying up etc) & appointments like dentist, physio, or catching up with parents support group (I prefer to schedule them during my son’s school hours). I will pick up my son from the bus drop off point then we walk home.

After that, the evening routine starts (taking shower, homework time, dinner, some relax time) then bed time routine starts, and my husband is in charge with that for our son (brushing teeth, changing into pyjama, reading time, prayer, and singing before bed).

How do you manage kids and after school activities?

Our son doesn’t have any after school activities on weekdays other than doing homework that I give to him. He goes to a special school, hence they don’t give homework. I give him maths and literacy exercises/homework to do everyday on weekdays. Every Saturday he has the extra curricular activities: speech therapy and swimming. And in some terms he will do a social skill group.

How do you manage kids and technology?

My son is permitted to play on his iPad after he has finished his homework on weekdays for 1-2 hours. He doesn’t really watch TV and he doesn’t have a mobile phone.

How do you manage kids and household tasks?

At this stage, we are focusing on self care and self management tasks, simple tasks like taking off his shoes after school and putting them on the shoe rack, putting his backpack in its designated place and taking out his lunch box and water bottle and putting them on the sink. Then he has to put his dirty uniforms or clothes in the laundry basket. He can help unpack the dishwasher as well under supervision. He also needs to clean and tidy up his homework books and his toys.

How do you manage kids and their “stuff”?

I try to declutter every season (summer, autumn, spring etc) and give away toys, books, clothes that haven’t been played with for more than 3-6 months. I usually either donate them to the school or give them to charity.

If you have a partner, how do you and your partner share the workload around the house?

I usually handle the majority of the housework like laundry, ironing, bathroom cleaning, vacuuming, mopping, tidy up etc. As he likes to cook, I let him do the cooking from time to time as I am not really into cooking. We share the dish washing task or use the dishwasher machine. Hubby does the grocery shopping on the weekends. We have someone come to do the lawns once a month, but hubby does the garden pruning and I help pruning the roses too. I handle the bill payments and schedule management of our family activities.

If you have a partner, how do you manage finding time together without the kids?

Hubby is usually able to take a day off once every few months and we have a date day together when our son is at school. We usually have lunch together from time to time when I have an appointment in the city.

What is one change you have made recently to how the household runs that has had a positive impact?

Meditation and quite time at night which has helped me get to sleep earlier and sleep better.

What is one change you would like to make, but just haven’t been able to do so yet? Why do you want to make this change and what do you think is stopping you?

To live a simpler and low tox life in general – declutter more stuff and to have a simplify and tidier home as well as using more eco friendly stuff. Finding the time to declutter and tidy up the whole house is rather tricky while managing day to day household tasks, appointments, extra curricular activities, and we currently have some small house renovation projects to manage.

What are you looking forward to in family life this year?

Spending more quality time with my family also with my parents interstate.

Key challenges for your family at the moment?

Time management and trying to fit many things into our schedule and implement a set system to stick to the schedule. Both my husband and I have to rely heavily on each other as we don’t have our parents living in the same city that can help us. We have several cousins but all of them are also busy with their children and their work, as they all are at the same stage of life like us, so we seldom ask them to help.