Reasons to be cheerful about inclusion

There was a huge pile of paperwork waiting for me when I emerged from my week’s break with friends and family. But the most urgent was not household bills or disability forms, but the need to confirm the summer activities for my profoundly disabled daughter.

It got me thinking how grateful I am that she has a busy schedule, and is more likely to be tired than bored. And when she’s bored, she lets me know! So it’s something I try to avoid…

Her busy schedule depends on inclusion. It depends on accessible venues, the understanding of event organisers, and acceptance of everyone involved.

But sometimes we can still feel like outsiders. Sometimes we go to events and realise that they actually aimed at young children, not 22 year olds with the intellect of someone much younger. It can be awkward.

Events that are designated as inclusive can be better, like parkrun, with a special mention for Tymon Parkrun which explicitly welcomes disabled children and adults. We’ve been to other runs that have a connection to disability too, such as the AsIAm autism 5K or the Alanna Russell Memorial Run. At all of them we tend to enjoy support rather than stares, and we feel part of something, part of a community, and not outsiders being allowed to participate. As a concession.

B also enjoys membership of a number of disability clubs: The Rainbow 13+ Club, The Rainbow Junior Arch Club, Remember Us in Balbriggan. They practice inclusion too, because most members have mild to moderate disabilities, and have speech and are mobile. Unlike my daughter. But while not everything is obviously suitable for B, the organisers never have a problem if I want to involve her in some way.

You see my daughter is different even by the standards of the disability community, but parents, carers and the disabled young people give us a stronger sense of acceptance, belonging and understanding. And that’s a much more comfortable place to be.

Other inclusive disability events include the recent disco night Bounce, and AbleFest, a music festival both for people with intellectual disabilities in July. One she attended, one we hope to attend.

Shopping centres are not my favourite place, but my daughter loves them for the people and the buzzy atmosphere, and they too are becoming ever more inclusive, with plenty of space and now Changing Places Toilets too, with the hoists that are essential if she needs to ‘go’.

I’m not expecting every service or event or activity to be inclusive for everyone – as a parent to two disabled young adults with incompatible needs, I don’t believe that’s possible. Life is messy, we’re not all the same, there is no one size fits all solution to every problem and every need.  Just so long as they can access what they need to survive and thrive, I’ll do my best to be cheerful.

Now I’m off to see what inclusive events are on today so my daughter and I can get out of the house, especially as the sun is actually shining as I type this!

Have a great week and head over to Lakes Single Mum for more reasons to be cheerful xx

R2BC at Mummy from the Heart


Not another bloody hand massage! #CarersWeek

Are emergency department nurses offered free hand massages to entice them not to resign from their stressful jobs?

Or speech therapists, office administrators, housekeepers. No? Well why are little ‘treats’ like these expected to satisfy family carers who fulfil all the above roles and more, for little or no financial reward?

The week beginning June 10th is National Carer’s Week, and the role of the 370,000 family carers in Ireland will be acknowledged and highlighted, and thanked by a grateful nation who will then mostly leave them alone for another 12 months to get on the with their essential work with very little support.

Society still wants us to be saints, and if you look at the smiling kindly faces of carers in publicity photographs, that’s the image they are receiving.

Not photos of exhausted, resentful, angry carers with stained clothes and greasy hair. Or children juggling homework with changing nappies.

You see carers are not a homogenous group. Some feel privileged, some feel burdened, some feel it’s a private matter, some feel they have no choice.

Some care for a few years for an elderly parent, others face a lifetime of caring for one or more disabled children.

Some have plenty of support, financially and physically, with reasonably good services, as well as help from family and community, who live in suitable accommodation and who enjoy respite allowing proper breaks from caring and even holidays. Some are in situations so dire that they feel suicidal at times.

There are carers of all ages: Children who care for parents or siblings after school, perhaps missing out on activities and friendships.

Men and women who give up their careers to care for disabled children or elderly parents.

Partners of older adults who cope with the declining health of someone they’ve loved all their lives.

All make sacrifices, some willingly, some reluctantly. Few are truly acknowledged for what they do, or given the support to ensure that they and those they care for, can lead good lives.

My wish list this carer’s week would be for a tailored support plan for every family with regular reviews that could include services such as real respite, an end to means testing of benefits, suitable housing or adaptations, counselling services (in home if necessary), and future planning. What’s on yours?

As for me? If I have any free time this week, I won’t be getting a free hand massage. Instead you’ll find me at the gym, trying to work off the anger I feel about how carers are treated.

Happy Carers Week!

Reasons to be cheerful about friends

How do you define a holiday?

For me it’s become any extended break away from my various roles and responsibilities. A chance to snatch at the memories of the person I once was.

So you might say I’ve been enjoying a week’s holiday, with visits from family and friends, and my day out running the 10k Womens Mini Marathon sandwiched in-between.

I had a wonderful time with my friends, as did my young adults. Far too much fabulous food was eaten. We went to the beach, despite some gloomy weather, and wine and conversation flowed in the evenings as we talked and talked about the world outside disability.

Then there was the Mini Marathon. After months of injuries, I only had 6 weeks to train for it, and I was determined to finish in under 60 minutes, if it killed me. And with roastingly hot temperatures during the run, it nearly did. But I was absolutely over the moon when I crossed the finish line.

It wasn’t all good, because as soon as started to feel relaxed a pesky little virus spotted an opportunity and BAM! it flooded me with germs, but I managed to remain cheerful thanks to the wonders of modern medication…

Then on Friday it was back to full on caring duties of the emotionally challenging kind and I didn’t do too well! But I’m hoping to enjoy a relaxing weekend as I will be entertaining my disabled daughter by bringing her to a couple of local events within walking distance, making everything easier and less stressful.

Hope you had good week xx

R2BC at Mummy from the Heart 

Reasons to be cheerful about Family

Do you love social media? I do. But I don’t need it, and I’m more than happy to put my phone down when I have real life company. And sometimes I do, like this weekend’s visit from my brother and sister in law who live overseas.

(And thank you to the friends who contacted me to check I was okay when I vanished from Facebook: that’s what online support and friendship is all about).

Don’t get me wrong, I love chatting with my friends, the access to information and support, the connections I’ve made and the opportunity to learn new skills and to use my brain.

But this weekend was all about the conversations over coffee, and spending lots of time out and about making memories with my three young adults.

So on Friday we went to Bloom, Ireland’s giant Flower and Food Festival. We visited the Irish Wheelchair Showgarden and my disabled daughter B got VIP access to the exhibit itself.

This year we didn’t even have time to see everything, and only managed to test about half the free food samples on offer.

But apart from one shower, the weather stayed fine and it was a lovely afternoon.

On Saturday we had a big fry up cooked by my brother before eldest headed off to work, then he and my SIL took youngest out to lunch and then we went into town for a potter around before a roast dinner cooked cooked by yours truly. A lot of food got eaten, so maybe it’s just as well that I will get the opportunity to run it all off during today’s 10K Dublin women’s mini marathon, now that they’ve headed for home.

Hope you had a good week too xx

R2BC at Mummy from the Heart 

Mad as Hell

Did that title catch your attention??


I’m just popping in to say that I’m making the blog public again, but I haven’t got anything inspiring to say right now and I don’t feel like trying to be cheerful just for the sake of it. Even though it would probably be good for me.

I do have a counsellor now, a fact I have probably mentioned already but as I’m already late getting the bedtime routine started for my disabled daughter B, I can’t be bothered to go back and check.

There is good news: I slept reasonably well for 3 nights in a row last week. As a result, I felt able to make some decisions and get some things done. Some fairly big changes are taking place, but not the ones I really really want. And yes B and I did pop down to mingle with the crowds attending the Spice Girls concert, but she did not appear to be very impressed!

I even mused out loud (ie on twitter) about going back to work. Mainly because I was live tweeting an autism conference and getting a lot of attention as a result.

I might test the water on that one. We’ll see.

Oh and I reduced my footwear collection to this:

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(Too much of anything feels like a burden, and shoes have never been a passion of mine).

So somehow a post that was meant to explain why I’m not feeling great has turned into something vaguely cheerful. Is that the power of blogging? Perhaps I should add it to the reasons to be cheerful linky after all…

R2BC at Mummy from the Heart 

A new toy and other reasons to be cheerful

It began with a torn page from a Sunday paper. Life was looking up in the summer of 2017, and I was determined to be brave and try new things. Also I needed a way to check how fast I was running, so when I read about this Kickstarter project for a budget smartwatch, I took a chance and backed it. As you know, it paid off, and I got my smartwatch in time for Christmas. It did everything I wanted and more, and quickly became an essential pice of kit. No more missed calls or messages, which can be so frustrating when you’re trying to organise something important for your children. So I was not happy when the watch broke for good last week. But I was happy when I found a bargain replacement that looks a bit like an Apple Watch and costs just £70. It also has great reviews, the battery is supposed to last for 45 days, and it appears to do almost everything on my wish list. So far I’m delighted …

In related news the wireless earphones that were free with my first smartwatch are still working, even though the watch is not.

Reasons to be cheerful 13.4.19

And I’ve a few other reasons to be cheerful too:

Friday was the last day I knew for sure I would have an empty house. So I made the most of it by tackling a head wrecking house maintenance issue. But during the breaks between stages I sat down and read a book instead of rushing around doing other chores.

With worries about the future mounting again, I also took a break earlier in the week to go for a short walk along Dublin’s seafront to clear my head.

A lovely message from a reader with a severely disabled child who found my blog  and said it gave her comfort for the future.

Oldest and youngest chose takeaways for dinner last Monday giving me time to bring B to the Rainbow 13+ Social Club in the evening, which she loved.

Our wonderful home hairdresser made us look presentable again.

When the health service gives you a week to respond to a letter or you will be struck off the waiting list and your busy but kind-hearted GP rings to make sure you’re not away and are able to respond.

After a long break, it looks like I will get two trips out to the cinema over the next couple of months with eldest and then a friend.

Finally yesterday was a wonderful day of inclusion for my disabled daughter, beginning with the park run at Tymon and ending with a 50th birthday party. I can tell you she went straight to sleep last night!

R2BC at Mummy from the Heart 


When B was young, I began investigating residential options for her, assuming she would live independently once she was a young adult. Now I don’t trust anyone else with her care, and I expect to look after her until one of us dies. I had a fresh start and a good life planned for us both.

But those dreams are being crushed.

I’m now under pressure to maintain the status quo, and continue providing care to two young adults for the foreseeable future.

This is unsustainable, and I do not believe it will be good for any of us.

But I am being made to feel selfish.

Did the people who insisted on the closure of all residential accommodation for disabled people realise the consequences? That very few are given the supports to live independently in the community unless they are extremely determined and able.

Most are still living with their families well after the age when they should have left, and whether the family home is suitable, and whether their parents or siblings are willing and able to care for them.

Disabled people should not be seen as a ‘burden’ on society, but that mantra should not be used to guilt trip family members to give up their lives to care either.

I am not a natural carer. I do not intuitively understand the needs of one of my young adults, I am not practical, repetitive tasks bore me, and being stuck at home makes me depressed..

I need variety, a job where I am valued, paid and appreciated, where I can use the skills I still have, be around other adults, and feel a sense of purpose and achievement.

But I’ll be 60 soon, and eventually it will be too late for me to make a fresh start.

I know I’ve made my bed and should lie in it, yada yada, but I shouldn’t be left there alone. I know that services are provided, and more are planned, but they don’t fix many of the fundamental problems. The enormous workload associated with managing the care of two young adults, which I may write about another day. The emotional, mental and physical toll. And the other stuff  – I’m trying to get help with the housework, house maintenance and the garden, but I keep getting let down or ripped off. I can understand now why so many old people’s houses are in poor condition: eventually you just give up.

I’m tempted to let it all play out, and let someone else clean up the mess. I’m done.

Note: Now I’ve let that out, I will try and write a cheerful post later, even though I’m beginning to resent the pressure to present a happy and cheerful face to the world and to my family. Because this is my blog, and you don’t have to read it 😉 


If all else fails, go shopping

I’m not promoting pointless consumption of stuff here, honestly. It’s my disabled daughter you see, she’s getting more demanding. She’s no longer content with quiet evenings involving videos and chatting to me as I potter between the sink and the cooker and the bins and the washing and well, you get the picture.

But there is one activity that always keeps her happy, and that’s shopping. She will brighten up as soon as I start to put her coat on, then laugh in happy anticipation as I push her and her wheelchair out of the house, through the two gates and into the van.

Once we get going, she is in charge of the music, and will head dance enthusiastically to her favourite songs — or give out loudly if a tune she dislikes is played.

The excitement builds up even more when she recognises the store or shopping centre, and if it’s big, bright and busy, well that’s even better..

(And as many of you have realised, she is very good at letting everyone within earshot know exactly how she feels!)

However daily shopping trips in the early evening rush hour traffic are not exactly an efficient use of time, and can be tiring and annoying, but I have realised there are benefits for the whole family.

I have fond memories of the days when I could do one big shop for the week. When I was in charge of the menu, the food and what everyone ate. But now my three young adults eat different things at different times, and forget to tell me when stocks of their favourite foods are running low. So I need to buy food and other essentials on most days anyway: if B and I shop in the evening, I have more time during the day to get other things done that she cannot help with, or would not enjoy. It’s almost a win/win. So I think four nights of shopping this week counts as a reason to be cheerful, don’t you?

Head over to Mummy from the Heart for more..

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R2BC at Mummy from the Heart 

Looking for Silver Linings

I’m afraid it’s been another of those weeks, and my heart goes out to several friends who have suffered loss and bereavement, but I’m determined to find some cheerful silver linings and turn some of the bad news into good…

The bad news is I don’t have the time – or interest – to do the garden any more and so it looks like this ↗️.

The good news is it means I’m helping to save the bees apparently.

The bad news is I will have to miss my beloved Tuesday Zumba class for the next few weeks.

The good news is it’s because I’ve finally got some counselling appointments. And I hope to get my Zumba fix from another class or event.

The bad news is my ribs still hurt a bit.

The good news is I have a great excuse not to bother with the vacuuming. I have to ‘rest’ and not do activities that hurt me.

The bad news is the beautiful disabled friendly bungalows B and I saw this week are on sale in the wrong place, at the wrong time. Probably.

You see I’m coming under pressure to defer any house move for now. It is difficult to turn down the chance to live somewhere that B seemed to love (see photo above), with everything we need for the future – apart from a ceiling hoist – already in place. Admittedly I am not convinced by the location – it’s a 20 minute drive from anywhere we might want to go, and public transport is almost non existent.

The good news is we enjoyed a lovely relaxing afternoon in the country including a pit stop at the local cafe where we felt very welcome.

The bad news is I’ve been super busy this week, and am feeling completely overwhelmed again

The good news is that between all the appointments and usual madness I am managing separate outings with each of my young adults. Even if they are for activities like house hunting that may come to nothing!

Let’s hope that next week is better, and head over to Lakes Single Mum for more reasons to be cheerful.

R2BC at Mummy from the Heart 

Two toilets in One week! #R2BC

It’s been another busy fortnight with 16 appointments of various kinds, plus fun activities at the weekend, including lunch out with friends, which B now really enjoys. One of those involved our first time to visit a commercial Changing Places toilet and I was delighted with how easy it was to use.

B got a new lightweight GaryB Wheelchair Blanket for Spring (just seen in photo) as her legs get so cold so easily now that she needs more than a pair of leggings covering them when she goes out.

I’m injured, which means enforced rest and filling the time with other things to ensure my two youngest do more than just look at screens. Starting by volunteering at parkrun tomorrow, instead of running..

Today though was a very special day as B and I headed out to North County Dublin to the official opening of the new premises of the hugely successful Remember Us Club that provides a social outlet for some 200 disabled children and adults, as well as their siblings and families. In a stunning achievement, they have raised enough funds to buy and kit out a permanent home for the club and all its activities and events. And it also has a proper Changing Places toilet, so we had to check it out!

We also got to meet a number of families who used to attend the Rainbow Junior Arch Club that B and I have been spending our Saturdays afternoons at for the past 18 years… It was lovely to catch up, and thanks to R for all your help and support and bringing over some badly needed coffee…

So that’s it for this week, more reasons to be cheerful over at Lakes Single Mum. Have a great week xx

Remember Us opening collage

R2BC at Mummy from the Heart