Dog Free Zones

I wondered how I was going to write this blog as it is something that is extremely personal to me and I’ll explain why as we go, but I didn’t want it to come across as controversial. In the end I decided to write from the heart and be open and honest. For the record this is just my opinion.

Why did I want to write about Dog Free Zones?
My daughter, who is now 10, for the last eight years has had a phobia of dogs. I don’t know how it happened but it did and has since got progressively worse, it has also been passed onto other animals over the years. I understand phobias are not pleasant for anyone but when you have a learning difficulty, as in Down Syndrome, calm rationality is not even an option.

Over the years I have seen Ellie have a melt down on more than one occasion. I have seen her shake from head to foot, scream the place down and cry in hysteria. It has not been pleasant to watch and has caused the family great concern. We live in a lovely area that has many fields, parks and pubs that are dog friendly so knew it was important to get a handle on this.

As time has gone on, depending on Ellie’s emotional needs some days she can actually stand still, stay calm and let a dog walk past her, some days she can run past dogs cheering herself on for being so brave, but there are still days that involve emotions which result from having a phobia.

So why am I writing this? 
I am writing this quite simply because Ellie is not the only child to have a phobia of dogs. Ellie does not have a phobia of dogs because she has Down Syndrome, many other children have this phobia too and I wanted to let all the dog owners out there understand what can be happening when you walk past with your dog and see a child screaming.

Actions and Considerations
First, please consider that a child is literally petrified of your dog, therefore saying “She won’t hurt, just pat it” and bringing your nice dog nearer to said child, doesn’t actually help. Please ensure your dog is on a lead if in a public place, I personally was told by the police that in all public spaces, all dogs must be kept on a lead and it is a criminal offence not do so. A good friend shared this link with me, which clearly states that in public spaces that have PSPO’s, a dog must be on a lead.

https://www.gov.uk/control-dog-public/public-spaces-protection-orders

Other actions to consider if you have a dog with you, is that if you are asked to put your dog on a lead because a child is frightened (just for a few minutes), please don’t ignore it. If a restaurant or park has a sign saying ‘No Dogs’ please don’t take your dog in there. My daughter has seen her brother get jumped by a dog, her brother be chased by a dog and a dog ran that ran that close to her one day, off a lead, that she pushed it away.

I understand this is a work in progress for our family and I know there is wider support out there such as The Dogs Trust but for now, please be considerate as we will too.

https://www.dogstrust.org.uk/sponsor/?msclkid=2e2f50c041721c28b5b80dd251230f51&utm_source=bing&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=SD%7CAudience%7CPB%7CExact&utm_term=dogs%20trust&utm_content=Brand%7CPure&gclid=CK-pq47OhOMCFY2bGwoderQAgQ&gclsrc=ds
Information relating to The Dogs Trust

If you are in the same situation as my family, here are some places that are dog free that you can attend and enjoy

  • Most beaches on the Isle of Wight (during the summer) are dog free
  • Most beaches in West Wales have summertime dog bans (eg Saundersfoot, Tenby)
  • RSPB Old Moor in Wath upon Dearne
  • Cleethorpes Beach is dog free between Good Friday and 30th September
  • Butlins
  • Haven Burnham on Sea
  • Fairthorne Manner in Botley Hampshire
  • Brockholes
  • Lytham St Anne’s beach in the summer
  • Lytham St Anne’s beach in the summer

I hope as always you have found this useful and I would love to hear from you if you have any coping mechanisms or know of any Dog Free Zones that I can add to my list.
Thank you as always for reading and if you would like to connect with me through any social media platforms please click on the button

Until Next Time
Sharon x

Self Care for a Carer

Self Care, what is that I hear you say? Well let’s talk about why self care is important and those little activities that you can incorporate into your every day life to take some time out from being a carer and should put a smile on your face.

Let’s start with what is self care? I have to admit, in my humble opinion, I believe self care has become a ‘buzz word’ of today that has been recently created but I still feel it is extremely important for survival as a human being, even more so as a parent and vital as a carer.

A definition of self care – the practice of taking action to preserve or improve one’s own health.

Now, how important was that for you to hear, ‘improve one’s health.’ As a carer you have to spend a lot of time looking after someone else’s health and needs; either older or younger and in addition to your own health and more often than not your own family.

Don’t get to this

Why is self care important? You may have heard the phrase if you’re running on empty how can you help others’ and that really is the simplicity of it. You cannot complete your role as a carer from your sick bed. Therefore it is vital to stay as healthy as you can and understand when it is time to take a step back here is what one mum said recently about self care.

I got myself into this really negative place where I’d just feel guilty and shit, that I wasn’t doing enough all the time. I’d get stressed super quickly because I put myself under so much pressure, then shout, then feel more rubbish and so on.

So I consciously took a step back and really focused on all the stuff I do that’s great, or even just the stuff that’s OK, normal stuff! We do so much every day that takes physical and mental effort but I definitely only focused on all the stuff I thought I wasn’t doing x

Next let’s look at what activities can be classed as self care and whilst some of these activities might seem unusual even ordinary to you, they do work for a few parents that I know. Self care is vital and it needs doing regularly for both our health and our sanity. There were several categories that were considered ordinary to turn to from crocheting, to hitting the gym, to even enjoying the (occasional or daily) glass of wine. Reading was another important wind down whether done before bed or sat in the car whilst playing taxi service.

Other additional self care activities that some might not even consider activities were watching the TV, simply eating, getting a decent sleep, having a shower or even a warm cuppa. Some considered more extravagant self care activities from pamper massages, spa breaks to drinking champagne and even hitting the beach. Gardening, horse riding, singing and yes it was said ‘locking yourself in the bathroom’ (we have all been there!), were many of the activities chosen from carers, hopefully there will be one that will suit you too.

Whatever activities you do decide on, choose to do some daily, some weekly and some less often, but do them. These self care activities will help you, maybe slightly, help your health, reduce your stress as a carer and just maybe put a smile on your face.

 

As always, thank you for reading and I hope you have found some value in this. I would love to know if you leave a comment, what your favourite self care activity is or message me directly via any of the links @linktr.ee/shaz_crowley

Until Next Time
Sharon x

Those First Few Days to Help You with a Child who has Down Syndrome

Are you a first time parent to a child with Down Syndrome? You may have known about the diagnosis during your pregnancy or found out afterwards, like I did….either way I would strongly suggest turning off google, putting any leaflets away you’ve been given by the professionals and read on. This blog is for you and is not just written from my own personal experience but from shared parenting secrets to you from many that have been in your shoes.

Congratulations, you have a newborn! Now if like me this child is your first you’ve probably got ready or possibly even read the ‘parenting handbooks’. Put them away in a drawer for now, even if your newborn is not your first child; grab a brew and read these top tips that many parents of a child with Down Syndrome begin with

‘treat your child like you would any other child, through each and every stage. See past the diagnoses, love and discipline just as you would your oldest’

Ellie, days old

Enjoy your beautiful baby as that is what you have in front of you, a beautiful baby.
Stop worrying, stop reading and stop googling; take each day forward and when you’re ready to learn more; consider joining a supportive group such as
https://www.facebook.com/groups/801281006738525/?
to ask any questions you have from those that have lived through them.

Another main point that many parents agreed was to enjoy every minute, like everyone else your child will grow up just as quick. My daughter Ellie has just turned 10 and I feel like I’ve blinked. Additionally in those first few days and maybe even longer don’t refuse help; you may be emotional about having a newborn even without having a diagnosis of Down Syndrome, so don’t try and play super-parent and do everything, take help when offered. The storm of emotions you will be going through will pass and things will get easier, we all promise you that. Just breathe and hold your baby.

Be kind to yourself and one thing that personally worked for me was talking to my husband openly and honestly about how I was feeling. Emotions such as sadness, concerns, worrying too much about the future; you may even have health problems (Ellie has a hole in the heart) but don’t be scared and don’t look too far ahead. Cuddle and ‘squish’ your baby and enjoy the magical journey that you are on.

As your baby gets older day by day, don’t stress the small stuff, the milestones, the appointments; go to baby groups, the park and find other parents that will support you. Trust your parenting instinct always and remember your little bundle of joy will be as unique as everyone else so take those photos and videos and give yourself and your child time to get into your routine to begin your journey.

And finally,

‘look forward to the most enthralling, frustrating, beautiful, fulfilled, exciting, worrying, scary, proud, enriching and varied life journey you’ll be privileged to be on with your baby.

If reading this has helped you in anyway, please comment below or get in touch with me through any platform via @lintr.ee/shaz_crowley. Thank you to the parents of the above group #WCAT for helping me put this together and as always, thank you for reading.

Until Next Time
Sharon x


Carer's Allowance and Free Access

Are you a carer, do you know what you are entitled to as a carer? Not sure, then stay with me and read on. Hi I’m Sharon (if reading for the first time) and I am a carer to my daughter Ellie, who is 10 and has Down Syndrome.

A definition of carer in the UK is ‘anyone who cares, unpaid, for a friend or family member who due to illness, disability, a mental health problem or an addiction cannot cope without their support’ according to The Carer’s Trust.

As a carer you are entitled to Carers Allowance, which in the UK is £66.15 a week if you care for someone at least 35 hours a week and they get certain benefits. There are other criteria and please refer to https://www.gov.uk/carers-allowance for assistance.

After speaking to several mums I was curious as to whether this allowance was justified. I know it was needed for our family as it has become the income I lost giving up work, but at the back of my mind was always the thought, ‘why are we entitled to it’ and the next paragraph sums up why every carer is 100% entitled.

Many carers give up work, like myself, and this allowance subsidizes the family income. Some put the money towards travel for additional appointments, many use it for specific items that can help their child; sensory toys, private therapies, specialised clothing/equipment and a few put it towards their children’s future needs. So yes every carer should apply for that allowance.

So now you get the picture about the allowance, let’s talk free access. Now every young child generally can’t go to an attraction on their own, but most teenagers and young adults can however people with Down Syndrome may often need a carer for some supervision and with some help from this fabulous group https://www.facebook.com/groups/DLAchildrensDaysOut/
we have created a list of places where carers go free.
Please see attached as this will be updated

I would love to know if you have found this useful or if you could add to the list, please comment below and as always thanks for reading.

Until Next Time,
Sharon x