I am so tired! Today we had our first respite day... basically free babysitting for children with special needs and their siblings under 12 so the parents can have a break. We did it from 9-2 today...kind of a long time for our first one, but we wanted the parents to be able to go Christmas shopping. We had 11 kids (6 with special needs and 5 typical) and 6 helpers (yes, I know that sounds like a lot, but with three autistic boys and one more who are all prone to running off, and four kids who were not confident with pottying, we needed more help than we had! In spite of our exhaustion, we certainly decided it was a great success!!
The parents came back very thankful...one mom spent the day alone with her mom (something she hadn't done in more than 2 years)... another couple got their Christmas shopping done for all their kids!... another mom got some painting done... another went home to an empty house to enjoy it. All of these are things we sooooo take for granted!
We had free playtime, then a puppet show (performed by a 33 year old man with autism!) which was the highlight by FAR, then we did some crafts, read a book, had a pizza lunch and had a "Happy Birthday, Jesus!" party.
We're planning another one for Valentine's Day... with more helpers, another puppet show, and dinners in lunch boxes, I think. And because they loved the puppets so much, we're going to make a puppet with each child to take home. (Most of them were begging for more puppets! Mattie is still talking about them!) I think we'll have more kids then also, because we will have more time to advertise and these parents will have spread the word.
It was a blessing to be able to give these parents a break, and a blessing to be able to share the day with other believers as well! We had a great time.