Desperate for Respite: Finding Good, Reliable Child Care

By Maureen Bennie

As parents of special needs children, we have respite funding to get a much-needed break from the stresses of our parenting situation. Talking to parents, I found out that many were not using their respite hours or not using all of their allotted respite hours. Why? Most parents find it difficult to find good, reliable childcare. It is not easy to find someone to look after children with autism or PDD. I found a great solution to this problem by using the organization Post Natal Helpers, which is an agency in Calgary, AB that sends competent mature ladies with parenting experience. My best friend gave me eight hours of Post Natal Helpers as a gift when my daughter was born. I have been using them two years this June.
Larger cities in Canada would have these types of agencies. Good places to find this kind of support would be your local hospital, public health clinic, the yellow pages under “Baby Sitters”, your pediatrician’s office, or through government social services agencies.

Post Natal Helpers in Calgary, AB are mothers who enjoy helping other mothers. All of the workers have been police checked and have experience in raising children. I have had about 10 different moms in my home over the past two years and all of them have been excellent. Most of the moms have grown children and a wealth of experience and patience. My children, both with Pervasive Developmental Disorder, have received the best of care from these ladies. I book post natal helpers to attend parent meetings at my son’s autism school, to run errands, go out with friends, to take one of the children to the doctor’s, take a class, pursue a special interest, or to spend time with my husband.

One thing I do for a sanity break is book the same post natal helper every Tuesday afternoon to do whatever I want. I always come home from these days feeling rejuvenated and ready to face my parenting challenges. I know another mom who has a standing order for every Saturday night to have a “date” with her husband. Booking regular child-care every week will provide parents with a familiar face for their children and give parents some time off to look forward to. All too often we lose ourselves in the day to day struggles of raising children with autism. It is just as important to make time for yourself and with your significant other as it is to spend time with your children.

I recently hired my support worker’s teenage daughter to baby sit my two children for a couple of hours. I was hesitant to take the plunge trying someone who wasn’t affiliated with an agency. I knew this young lady well and she had spent time with my children in the presence of her mother. She did a terrific job, the kids responded well, and I had a lovely dinner out with my mother – something I haven’t done in a long time. This experience also taught me that it is good to have a back up person to help you out. It is difficult to get someone from a professional agency within twenty-four hours so it is nice to have an alternative.

Everyone needs a break from time to time. Most moms feel guilty taking time away from their children but respite funding is available because it provides a valuable way to regroup and rejuvenate your spirit and important relationships. Post Natal Helpers provides reliable, safe childcare so I can feel confident in giving myself a break. This service has been a lifesaver for me! Take the time to find a respite service or reliable baby sitter in your area. The best gift you can give to yourself is time away from your situation because in the end you’ll return home after having been in a different space and feel ready to tackle the parenting challenges of autism.

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