The other night, I was watching telly.
I can’t remember what the programme was, but part of it, or it may even have been an advert, showed a group of teenagers (all very slim and attractive) having a whale of a time at a beach party in sun.
In my head I presumed that none of them had a care in the world, that they were the happiest they could be, and that life for them was a breeze.
It was at that point that I had the thought. I wanted to go clubbing in Ibiza!
Now, just to put this in to context – never, ever in my life have I wanted to go clubbing. It’s just not me.
It’s certainly not me now that I am fast approaching my 40th year, a special needs mum and most definitely not a member of the “slim and attractive” category!
I’ve enjoyed nights out with friends (pre-baby), but these were at at cheesy local pubs or bars, and if I’m brutally honest with you, I felt much more at home when these nights out turned to nights in and friends (armed with wine or prosecco of course) would come round to the house.
So why, you may ask, did I all of a sudden want to up sticks and be a raver?
I think it’s because the girls on the telly looked so carefree, a stark reminder to the responsibilities that I now have, not only as a mum, but as a mum to a little one with complex needs.
As a special needs family, we can’t be spontaneous (this isn’t necessarily a problem for me – I’ve always been twitchy if there isn’t a plan!).
We can’t just decide to pack a bag, hop on a plane, and head to the beach. We can’t take out regular travel insurance (the list of medical needs to declare is pretty lengthy).
We can’t hire a typical family car in a foreign resort (has to be wheelchair accessible).
We can’t be away for too long in case we run out of meds. We can’t venture away without knowing where the nearest hospital is, just in case.
You get the idea?
We are very fortunate though in that we can go away in this country, and have a caravan that can be loaded up with suction catheters, feed bags, trachi supplies, sats monitor and so on.
I know this in itself wouldn’t be possible for some special needs families, so I am very grateful that its do-able for us at the mo.
The lead-up to a holiday (and by holiday, I mean weekend break within about an hour’s drive from home) for us involves lists, lists and more lists.
I need to feel reassured that we have planned for every eventuality - hot weather (slightly optimistic for the UK!), cold weather, being unwell, several changes of clothes in case of spillages - although inevitably I usually manage to forget something.
As long as it’s something I can buy in a supermarket it’s not too bad – if only Tesco’s started doing a range of SN supplies hey?!
There are of course advantages of holidaying in this country; no need to remember passports, or try and get by in a different language; no queuing to get through security at the airport or squeezing your knees into a cramped seat on an aeroplane; no immunisations or jetlag (although for many SN parents that may not make a difference, sleep is so rare anyway!).
The biggest plus is there are so many beautiful places to visit, with more and more being adapted to meet the needs of everyone.
The Changing Places campaign is doing a great job in promoting the need for accessible facilities and thankfully lots of attractions seem to be realising how important these are for people.
Let’s hope this grows even further.
Having had a bit of time to reflect, I can safely say that, for the time being at least, I’ll put my Ibiza idea on hold.
You never know though…one day…just maybe…!