10 Reasons to Celebrate your Baby who has Down Syndrome

I write this as part of my new series, ten reasons. The main reason I started blogging was to educate people about Down Syndrome and this began when Ellie, my daughter, turned 10 this will become and I’ve decided this will be a new feature.
In addition, this title is one I have thought about for some time after reading the amazing article https://themighty.com/2019/07/celebrating-baby-down-syndrome-diagnosis/ and decided there were many more reasons that five, so let’s begin.

First may I just add that I wish I had read a blog post like this when we received our own diagnosis with Ellie because unfortunately it wasn’t pleasant, see here
https://t21hub.com/2019/08/17/the-first-chapter-with-ellie/

Here Are My 10 Reasons

  1. You have been given a diagnosis of Down Syndrome and you now may have a preempt view of your new life as a mum. Stop!
    No new mum can predict their child’s day let alone their future.
  2. You may begin to worry about your child reaching milestones, such as walking and talking. Stop!
    Each child gets to where they want to be when they are ready, including yours.
  3. You may start to worry that your child will grow up lonely, with no friends or social life. Stop!
    You are just about to join an exclusive community, the Down Syndrome community, which will have enough friends in there for your child, for you and for your family.
  4. You may be concerned about your child’s immune system and overall health. Stop!
    Your child may or may not need additional support, such as intervention and wearing glasses; remember there are many children these days that need help with speech and sight these days.
  5. You may be feeling overwhelmed, I know I did and not sure what to do next. This is completely natural. I would not suggest going on Google or diving straight into an outdated book. I would suggest simply holding your child that little bit longer for a cuddle even if you are feeling emotional.
    Here’s a book I would recommend though
    https://www.wouldntchangeathing.org/product/wcat-book-by-celebrate-t21/?fbclid=IwAR1dwSxdh4_k1XhU3CwYqtmMnqgxkGMee8GCUqKZ8YztF5c6nmc6-EmQmys
Here is my daughter Ellie, just a few days old doing what all babies do; sleep and look cute.

6 Do not stereotype your child, they will grow up to be more like you than different and most stereotypes these days are extremely outdated
https://t21hub.com/2019/05/08/challenging-some-myths-and-stereotypes-around-downs-syndrome/
7. You may be concerned about future independence, please rest assure that many individuals with Down Syndrome are living as independently as possible. They are going onto find employment, become celebrities and get married. Have you not heard of the amazing Sarah Gordy
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sarah_Gordy
8. Are you worried about siblings, new or future ones? Stop!
Speak to other parents and find out the same as I did, future siblings are not guaranteed to receive the extra chromosome, that’s only for the privileged. Most children go onto love their siblings even more as they develop a true bond.

Ellie with her younger brother, Billy aged 10. Their love is real and doesn’t count chromosomes.

9. You may feel that your child will not be able to take part in the community. Stop!
They can and they will, if you want them too. Many children go to mainstream schools and lots of after school activities are inclusive or tailored to meet the needs of all children. Ellie enjoys drama and swimming, she currently has performed with http://Bamboo Studios several times in front of large crowds.
10. You have a baby, a baby that has an extra chromosome, that’s all for now> Enjoy the journey and take the pictures even though I promise you, you will never forget a milestone like many other parents do.

To Summarise

I’m sure with the help of other parents we could get these top 10 reasons to celebrate your baby with Down Syndrome to 1000 and one day you might read that blog. If you are reading this as a new parent, try not to be scared even though all emotions and reactions are normal, accept them. Enjoy being a mum you’ve waited approximately nine months for this.

If you are an existing parent to a child with an extra chromosome, can you add in the comments an additional reason to celebrate.

Finally if you are reading this as not a parent to a child with Down Syndrome but know someone that may benefit from this blog and website, please share and help us spread awareness.

If you would like to connect with me personally, please go to my Work With Me page
https://t21hub.com/contact-me/

Until Next time and as always thanks for reading
Sharon x



A Review of Ellie’s Inclusive Pamper

We love to review places to give others an opportunity to see if the setting would be inclusive especially if, like Ellie, my daughter, you have a disability such as Down Syndrome.
So let’s have a look at Ellie’s inclsuive pamper with Flawless UK based in Manchester.

How The Inclusive Pamper Began

One of the community groups that we attend regularly was gifted a voucher
http://dswestpennine registered charity 1140539
and one Saturday evening I chose to purchase it for myself and Ellie. We have very little mummy daughter time as she is a daddy’s girl and once purchased I wondered whether she would even enjoy it. However when Ellie turned 10 I realised that she didn’t experience a lot of activities that others her age would and I wanted to rectify that and share how many places are actually inclusive.

The night before we went, I told her we had a surprise adventure happening the next day and in basic terms explained our pamper session. She sounded excited by it all which was a great start. The next morning getting ready, Ellie said, ‘I am nervous mummy’ Bless.

The Inclusive Review

After a stressful morning driving into Manchester and locating a parking spot given half the streets were cordoned off for a police investigation, I suddenly realised Ellie had never been into Manchester (another one to rectify but maybe when it was quiet). Arriving late and apologetically the staff were very welcoming and friendly and actually let me leave Ellie with them for five minutes whilst I returned to the car to park right out side their building (please note it had double yellow lines and I was using our Blue Badge)

We were offered drinks and the morning was explained to us both. Ellie was then given her own make-up artist, Natalie who began to talk to Ellie like she was an individual. Natalie asked Ellie questions, rather than me and whatever Ellie wanted in relation to her make-up and hair, she got. This was one of the main reasons I chose to write this blog and share; Natalie treated Ellie like a young lady that she is and I couldn’t stop smiling throughout the morning as it was a pleasure to see. Many people are not sure how to talk to Ellie and often think she wont answer so ask me questions instead.
They both talked music and films throughout the experience. Whilst pictures should not have been taken inside the studio, I did manage to get this one.

Ellie let Natalie curl her hair even though she gets head sore

What Did the Voucher Consist Of?

The voucher itself consisted of
– Complimentary Drinks
– A Make Over including nail polish
– Your hair styled
– Photo session with 3/4 outfits
– A printed photograph to take home, additional can be purchased

All in it can take about 3 to 4 hours.

The Photography Session

The settings and tools for this part were outstanding from beds, to chairs to feather boa’s and once again the ladies were very flexible. If Ellie didn’t want to do something she was adamant she wouldn’t do it. I personally had no idea what we wanted so I let the professionals lead the way.
As we were heading into the final part, Ellie did begin to have had enough so I called it and asked could we finish.

Conclusion

Over all the morning was fantastic and I would definitely recommend doing something like this with your children to help them experience what other children do. As for the staff, I couldn’t fault them with their friendly, welcoming and inclusive manner.
Speaking of inclusion, the only thing I would adapt would be the stairs going down to the building, maybe have a ramp to help anyone with mobility issues access the studio.
The only downside, if there was one to mention was the cost of the additional photographs; whilst I appreciated their quality it was difficult to say no, once you had seen them as you always want to hold onto memories of a day like that and thus the credit card sneaked out of my purse.

If you would like to purchase a voucher with Flawless UK, here is their link
https://flawlessstudios.net/

The Model

So there you have it, thank you so much for reading. I would love to know have you had an experience like this with your child, please do comment and if you would like to read more reviews from me then do press follow. You can also check out our inclusive review of our summer holiday here
https://t.co/RJ7vcbk31i?amp=1

Until Next Time
Sharon x

Are you Looking to Freelance your way to Independance?

When I chose to give up work to look after Ellie and be her full time carer, I didn’t realise how I would feel. Those emotions included loss in particularly loss of independance, I suddenly felt I had lost my identity, my income and my way. However I found I could I could freelance, work from home and have done ever since. Here is my first guest blog from Kellie Dawson who shows you how.

How freelancing from home provides work/life flexibility for parents and caregivers

As any parent will know, having children changes everything. Having children makes you reevaluate what you want and need in just about every way possible. For many of us, one of the big things that we reassess after having is what we want from our work and whether we wish to return to our past career.

Some of us return to our old jobs only to realise that the lifestyle we once had no longer fits in with family needs and priorities. Some of us just know that we never want to go back there.

The reality for many parents, however, is that whether we want to go back to work or not, we do need to do some sort of work to keep the family finances in order. And even if we don’t need to return to work, working provides us with something to focus on outside of the family. It also helps us stay current if we ever do decide to return to work further down the track.

So, what can you do when you either want to or need to work, but a regular job just won’t fit in with family priorities? My answer is to freelance.

What is freelancing?

Wikipedia defines a freelancer as follows:

“A freelancer or freelance worker, is a term commonly used for a person who is self-employed and is not necessarily committed to a particular employer long-term.”

Some of the commonly known freelancing jobs include providing virtual assistance or secretarial services remotely, website design, writing and photography, but freelancing is not limited to these more common niches.

To me, freelancing is really just about using the skills that you have to create a business where you can work independently.  It is not limited to a particular skill set or industry. Almost anyone can freelance from home. Sometimes you might need to think a little out of the box, but I am confident that pretty much everyone reading this article will have skills that they can use to create a freelance income.

If you’re wondering if you might be able to freelance from home just have a look back at all of the things you have done over your career and think about the skills that you have that could be used remotely. You might also have other talents or skills that you could use for your freelance career (for example, if you’re savvy with design or great with programmes like WordPress). Often the best way to get started is to simply pull out a large sheet of paper and just start brainstorming ideas.

If you’re getting stuck on precisely what your freelance niche might be then I would encourage you to head along to The Freelance Mama Facebook page and join my online community. Our theme for September is going to be niche selection and I will be running a 3-day niche selection challenge live over on my Facebook page, so make sure you give the page a like so that you get the notifications. Alternatively, you can download one of my freebies and get added to my list to receive email notifications about the challenge.

Why freelance?

To me the main advantage of freelancing is the flexibility that it provides. Unlike a regular job, a lot of freelance work can be done at times fits in with your family and other commitments.

For a lot of freelance jobs, your clients will simply require that you meet a deadline by a particular date. It is usually not necessary for you to be physically present at an office or work site, and work is mostly delivered by electronic means, such as email. Sometimes you may never actually meet with your client at all, and often meetings will be held over online applications such as Skype or Zoom. This provides a level of flexibility that is very rarely available in regular forms of employment.

What this means is that you can fit your freelance work commitments in around your life. You can also choose the jobs that you do so that they work for you and for your customers, and you can tailor your own days so that if you have children, parents or other dependents to care for you can be available for them.

For me, for example, freelancing has enabled me to work in hours that fit with in with my family commitments. Most of the time I work during school hours, so that I am able to be there to pick up and drop off my kids and take them to after school activities. From time to time I do end up working in the evenings once the kids are asleep, but when I do have to do this it is because it is usually because it is school holidays or the kids have been home sick and I just haven’t been able to get through all of my work during the day.

Many of my freelance clients are mums too, and they understand that there will be occasions when I have children around while I’m on a phone call or virtual meeting. They also know that I work really hard to make sure I meet their deadlines, so that the flexible arrangement is a win for both of us.

What do you need to get started?

One of the other great things about being a freelancer is that, in many cases, there is very little you need to get started. Most freelancers simply need a laptop, an internet connection and a skill set that is in demand. This makes freelancing a great low-cost entry point for many people who are looking for a work from home option.

The other thing you will need, of course, is some clients. For many people finding clients is seen as something of a barrier to entry, however, you will often find that you are able to get at least your first client or two from within your existing network. For me, the majority of my freelance work has come from people who I already had in my network, or from referrals.

So, if you are thinking about starting your own freelance business start my talking to people you know within your network and see whether they (or someone they know) might be looking for a little help. All it takes to get started earning one client, and even if it is only a few hours here and there to get started, you will be able to use that client as a reference (and maybe even get referrals from them) to be able to start building your reputation in your niche.

How to find out more

If you are thinking freelancing might be the next career path from you then I would love to help you to get started. Each week I share a new blog post on a topic of interest to newbie freelancers over at thefreelancemama.com. You can also connect with me on Facebook, LinkedIn or Instagram to stay up to date with all of my latest free resources.

If you’re not sure if you want to freelance but are still interested in earning an income from home, you might like to download my free 7 Ways to Work from Home eBook. In there I have discussed 7 of the most popular ways to work from home with case studies from mums who are using these methods to earn an income from home. Many of these options could also work well for caregivers who are looking for alternative ways to earn an income from home.

Bio

Kellie Dawson is a Mama Mentor, helping mums like you to find ways to freelance from home using the skills they already have. Kellie has two little boys aged 4 and 6, and it was her desire to be there for her boys that led her to quit her corporate job and build a work from home business. 

A Review of Gouves Water Park Greece

After 10 whole nights and days I felt I had to review our family summer trip to Gouves, giving an honest account of whether it is an inclusive complex for a child with Down Syndrome.

August 2019, our summer trip back to Gouves which we know is quiet but that’s what we love, as a family we don’t do hustle and bustle but this holiday was going to be slightly different to what we were used to. Why? Usually we book a small family villa with one pool so we can get to know the other the staff and other families. This year as we had left it a little late to book we had a water park…..would we enjoy it, would it be inclusive? Read on to here my review.

Arriving very late we were greeted by a porter who helped us with our luggage and advised by reception that there was a cold buffet awaiting for us. The bar was open and we could purchase drinks as the all inclusive finished at 11. I thought this was very courteous after a long day travelling and immediately could tell the difference between a 3 and 4 star accomodation.

Reviewing The Hotel

The next morning we were greeted with sunshine and right outside our 2 bedroomed appartment (much needed as Ellie, my daughter who has Down Syndrome, needed here a bedtime routine) was our view.

Mini Pool

On the first day we had a good look around, isn’t that what most families do, ‘find their feet’. I shouldn’t have been surprised, but the hotel was huge, with different areas and was immediately concerned about how Ellie would cope. In fact we didn’t even find two of the bars advertised or one of the restaurants and thought it was a shame that a mini map wasn’t issued at arrival.

On the second day we found a part of the water park, which I thought the kids would love but they never wanted to go back after one afternoon 🙁 I’m guessing a few scrapes and burns from the slides didn’t help but it was small enough for Ellie to access the steps independently and we had eyes on at all times.

Gouves Splash Park

The larger slides were a hit with my son Billy but Ellie wasn’t that keen after the first go. Maybe it was the waiting in turn that put her off as normally she is a water baby. However I did find the lifeguards and the queuing system a reassurance.

The food was incredible and I have to say one of the best we’ve ever tasted, different themes and often cooked whilst you waited. My only concern during August was how busy it was. Some days you felt like you were packed like a tin of sardines and often was left waiting to get items or banging into people. To give the hotel credit it did say what times were quieter for those that needed it. However I couldn’t trust Ellie to get her food by herself.

Reviewing The Staff

Once we had settled into holiday life it was nice to begin to get to know the staff and the animation team. The kids club which was open every day (am & pm), and whilst at first I was worried at leaving Ellie, the team were amazing and got to know her and what she enjoyed. Billy, her younger brother really enjoyed the club especially learning his new card game Uno and wanted to visit most days. This is a great facility when you want some shade for your children or just some me time. The entertainment was provided daily in the main pool, which we didn’t join in (we preferred it quieter) and having several pools helped. The mini disco at night, again was too hustle and bustle for Ellie and I have to point out though that on our last night, one of the ladies actually stood with Ellie so she could have a dance without being jostled proving just how much the staff wanted everyone to join in; inclusion.

Conclusion of the Review

Apart from the hustle and bustle at dining and some of the rude people we encountered I would definitely recommend this hotel. Overall the staff were helpful, the hotel was kept clean with regular maid service. However I wish I had known beforehand that two of the restaurants you actually had to pay for drinks (Smile on the beach and the Asian A La Carte ). The shop was fully equipped and there was plenty to spend your money on (yes I know it was AI) including arcade games, additional drinks, and extra’s for the kids such as slush and named ice-creams.
All in all it was worth the money, it deserves it’s four stars and if you like water parks this is a hotel for you and for me and Ellie it was a thumbs up on inclusion.

We booked with Jet 2, here’s the link
https://www.jet2holidays.com/
or you can book direct with the hotel here if you would like to visit
https://www.gouvespark.gr/

Thanks for reading this review and I hope it has helped you to make a decision about this holiday. Please feel free to ask me any further questions in the comments and keep tuned for more reviews coming. If you are looking for a carvan holiday in the UK, check this review out
https://t21hub.com/2019/08/14/a-trip-to-wild-rose-caravan-park-with-ellie/

Until Next Time
Sharon x

Do you have a child with Down Syndrome going into year 6?

Today is the day, my daughter Ellie, who has Down Syndrome starts year 6 and I am feeling very emotional. Since they broke up for summer I have always been on countdown for their return, yes I am that mum lol. We have had a lovely family summer but I truly believe six weeks is too long to be out of routine and that goes for both parents and children. So today is the day, the day Ellie enters her final year of primary and I am emotional. Here’s why.

I feel today, just like I did when Ellie started primary, nervous about what the future holds, concerned at how she will cope when she heads off to high school; which isn’t even for another year but I know this year will be just as fast as the last five have been and I really want it to slow down.

Ellie has Down Syndrome which means it takes her a little longer to get used to new routines and learn new topics. She has full support in class but this year we are hoping for a little less support to encourage Ellie to get on with her work more independently. This worked a few years back when the support stopped at lunchtime and has given Ellie the skills she needs to pick her own lunch, carry her tray and then find somewhere to sit.

Each year through primary, Ellie has kept up with her peers as best she could and for the last few years primary school has been a safe place for her but today I was emotional. I was emotional because it is her last year at primary, year 6 and it didn’t help, that me being that last minute mum, only picked up her new orthodontic shoes yesterday, so to Ellie they felt big and clumpy. She cried, she doesn’t like them and she didn’t want to go back to school 🙁

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Ellie-year-6-1-768x1024.jpg
Ellie, after wiping her tears

I know year 6 will be an emotional year for me, her last Xmas, last Easter at primary and her younger brother Billy, has started juniors too; it simply feels like they are growing up way too fast. So why have I chose to blog about this, well its therapeutic for me and if it helps one other parent to appreciate the emotions that most parents feel when their child goes into their final year of primary, more so when you have a child with Down Syndrome then it was worth it. These emotions are yours, accept how you feel and reach out to other parents, if need be, who have been there too. You can always contact me for a chat too, you can message me https://www.facebook.com/ShazandEllie/

Thank you as always for taking the time to read and do let me know have you gone through these emotions yet as your child went into year 6?

Until Next Time
Sharon x