Back To Work After A 6 Month Quarantine

Six Months Without Working

I am an in home pediatric care tech for a little girl with special needs. I genuinely love my job. But I also spent the last 6 months being a stay-at-home mom (to a dog & a new puppy) and running the home while on my own schedule. My man would go to work, I would clean, do laundry, go grocery shopping, run errands, crate train, potty train, garden, etc. For six months I was in a let’s play wife bubble. And it. was. glorious! For the most part, there were also moments that my mental health struggled with the copious amounts of time.

how Did I survive My First Week Back?

Lots and lots of Coffee and copious amounts of grace. It was also an easier than expected transition. Waking up earlier than normal wasn’t terrible. I think I was more excited to get up and have somewhere to go!

In all actuality there was a lot of grace from myself and from my boss. My job can be demanding, and I always need to be on my A-game. But I am allowed some grace when forgetting specific routines and schedules. And I just had to keep more notes than normal, especially when it comes to the medication schedule.

Tips & Tricks

  • Meal prep so you have an exciting and filling lunch to look forward to
  • Take fun and healthy snacks to nosh on
  • On your way to work list what you’re grateful for, you have a job & income
  • If you’re able to listen to music while working make a killer playlist
  • Go into it with a positive attitude
  • Get new scrubs or work clothes you’ll be excited to wear

Dear Friends…

Don’t apologize for your kids with special needs.

I love how kids know. They know when a stranger is safe. The amount of times a person with special needs has run up to me and grabbed my hand, started a conversation, or just stood next to me and smiled is countless. And I’ve heard numerous stories from my fellow nurses, techs, teachers, and nannies who work with kids who have special needs. Those kiddos just know, there is an unspoken connection with these friends and it is fantastic.

It breaks my heart that parents and caregivers feel they have to apologize. Apologize for the touching, the sounds, the closeness, the conversation, the singing, the everything unique and amazing that makes that person special, and not only that, but what that person might be doing that is annoying you so much is a result of sensory overload, it is a survival tactic.

So many parents and caregivers of people with special needs have been scolded verbally or with nasty disapproving looks. And they are constantly apologizing. Strangers who have no idea that the man loudly humming the same theme song over and over again has to do that. That the little girl tapping the table and rocking back and forth in her chair in a crowded restaurant has to do that. That the child who’s going into sensory overload can’t help but scream and hit himself.

If you can’t help but feel the need to stare down that person who is apparently annoying you, then please just turn around. Don’t let them see your judgmental glares. They really don’t need it. Trust me. 

To the parents and caregivers out there who have seen those looks and heard the disgraceful murmurs of the disapproving strangers…just know there are so many more of us out there who will love on your kids and love on you.

So please, I encourage you not to stop your child from being themselves. It makes my day when a friend runs up to me and grabs my hand or asks me to sing along with whatever song they need to sing. 

Improving Oral Motor Skills

 

You will need:

  • 1 Jumbo Straw (Smoothie Straw)
  • 1 Large Straw
  • Tape
  • Scissors
  • Sticker or Fun Picture (Optional)

Instructions: Cut about 1/3 of the smoothie straw off and tape one end closed. This is where I stuck 2 Cookie Monster stickers back to back. Place the taped off smoothie straw onto a regular straw and have your toddler blow and ‘shoot’ the smoothie straw at targets! This is a super fun and effective way to get your toddler using their oral motor skills in a way that is benefitial. Just using a straw regularly in their daily lives can aid in their ability to lip seal, retract their tongues, swallow consecutively, use correct jaw position, and so much more! I highly recommend cups with lids and straws for your toddlers and kiddos! 

Alternative to plastic: We just happened to have these straws already in the back of the pantry, but if you are conscious of your impact on the planet don’t fret! You can also create this out of recycled straws (clean them from your daily iced coffee), or a reusable straw and a piece of paper rolled into a tube the size of the smoothie straw and taped off. 

Relationally Focused

Wow did we pack so much fun into this day. My first day back at work has been what I expected it to be – moments of relearning and patience, but also moments of incredible joy and the best snuggles in the whole wide world. My goodness does this little girl know how to give the best hugs imaginable. I am so blessed with this kiddo, she is just the sweetest little sidekick.

What you can’t see is the astronomical amount of toys littered around the house. It looks like the Melissa & Doug factory exploded. The sticky surfaces, the strawberry cream cheese smeared on her table…and the dog. It’s chaos. This is such a huge win. I’ve been retraining my OCD tendencies to be more people and relationally focused. I won’t lie, I fail at this most days. I tend to get caught in the details, in the things that don’t necessarily matter, in the technical side, the matter of fact-ness. Especially when it comes to my job – which yes, when it comes to a medical emergency, giving medication, or logging data – I need those OCD tendencies, I need the detailed and technical side of myself. But when it comes to having a chill day where we can play with the new toys she got for Christmas – I need to put those natural tendencies in the back of my mind. I need to be present and fun and energetic and let loose. That’s something I have always struggled with. Letting loose. I’m a very uptight person. In the Mary & Martha story…I tend to lean more towards being a Martha.

So as I am learning to slow down and enjoy the present with the people I am around and not be focused on five million other things…I need to be praying for patience with myself as I work on this. My psychiatrist says I have OCD tendencies but just like my diagnoses I do not need to be defined by them. I’m not the nicest person when it comes to my flaws and I need to allow grace for days where I fail to be relationally focused.

Let’s Dance!

I was in the waiting room at therapy with my friend, and a boy, maybe 16 or 17, came up to me, sat as close as he possibly could, and grabbed my hand. Which is a totally normal occurence in my line of work. He asked what my name was, and after I told him, he said, “Kait, let’s dance!” My new friend turned on disco music on his ipad, started singing, pulled me up out of my chair, and spun me around. His enthusiasm and joy was infectious.

His mother was blown I wasn’t rude to him or turned him away, and that I treated him like the person that he is. I love that most friends know who is safe to go up to and dance with! But I wish we lived in a world that was more loving and accepting of our friends with special needs. Instead of turning them away we all should learn to be loving and kind and dance with new friends!