I DECIDED TO CREATE MOMUMENTAL MOTHERS TO CELEBRATE WOMEN FROM ALL WALKS OF LIFE. EACH OF THE WOMEN I WILL FEATURE ARE DIFFERENT, BUT THEY ARE ALL UNITED IN MOTHERHOOD.
Today it is my pleasure to introduce you to Sophie.
Sophie is the creator of a wonderful blog, Mummy of a Square Peg. In her blog, Sophie chronicles her experiences as a mother and what day-to-day life is like with her ‘square peg,’ a son with Autism.
Sophie, can you tell my readers a little about yourself?
I’m Sophie and I’m 43. I’ve been a full-time RE teacher in secondary schools for the past 20 years. I live in a beautiful little town in Devon and I love the Devon life. My family and I love being outdoors and it’s amazing to have glorious beaches and Dartmoor nearby.
How old are your children and what grades are they in school?
My eldest son Matthew is 8 and he is in year 3. My youngest son Edward had just turned 6 and is in a year 1 but he goes to a Special Needs school.
What do you feel is your biggest struggle as a parent?
Becoming a parent was my biggest struggle. I was in shock when my first son was born and had a bit of Postnatal Depression. My next biggest hurdle was my youngest son being diagnosed with Autism at the age of 3. It’s taken me a good couple of years to process this and come to terms with this.
How do you think you have changed as a mother since your boys have grown older?
When my boys were babies I would constantly worry (as all new mums do) that I was doing it all wrong. I was worrying that they would become ill if I didn’t breastfeed, they wouldn’t be able to speak if I didn’t do baby led weaning, they would get diabetes if they had too much sugar, etc.
To be honest my worrying was ridiculous. I know this now because they are both super healthy boys who are hardly ever ill and when they are ill they recover quickly. With my first son when he started school I would worry about how well he was doing, if he was making progress, etc. But then when we had my second son who is now in year 1 with autism, he is still in nappies, is not interested in reading or work and can’t speak properly. I’ve completely stopped worrying, as there’s nothing I can do. He is who he is. So what I’m trying to say is that as they’ve got older I’ve become more relaxed about developmental milestones and realized that they are not really that important and kids will get there in their own time.
With my children, I sometimes feel like my daughter doesn’t get as much attention from me because I am often busy taking care of her younger brother. He is two years younger, still in diapers, doesn’t want Dad to put him to bed, is teething right now, and is very attached always wanting me to hold him. I try to spend extra time with her when I can, but it isn’t always easy to do so. I imagine you may experience something somewhat similar with Matthew and Edward? Are you able to spend “quality time” with Matthew? If so, what do you like to do together?
We take Matthew out to lots of sporting activities, take him to cycling club, football, cricket, athletics. So he gets a lot of attention that way and Edward just tags along. At Edward’s special school they run a holiday club so we send Edward there for the day and I’ll take Matt out somewhere. The last thing we did was ten pin bowling and Pizza Express. Matthew is a fab big brother to Edward; he really does look after him and will help me with him but there are times when Matthew mimicks Edward, I’m guessing he does this to get attention.
What your normal day like?
Hectic! My husband works nights so I have to deal with whatever happens during the night. I get both boys ready for school in the morning, then myself. My husband comes home from work just before 8am and I go to work. He then takes them to school and sleeps whilst they are at school. We are pretty busy nearly every evening. My eldest son does football, cycling, athletics, and cricket so evenings consist of taking him to those. I try to go to an exercise class three times a week.
Parenting is a 24/7 responsibility. How do you take time for yourself and recharge?
I have an amazing circle of friends and we try and regularly have some Mummy outings. We will go out for a meal, have a spa day, a shopping day and a night in a holiday lodge. During the school holidays, I put my sons into a holiday club so that I can have one day to myself. I love to mooch around the shopping centre on my own and have some lunch.
How do you handle everyday stressors?
I learnt to handle everyday stressors the hard way. It took a bit of a breakdown for me to learn to do this. So now I make sure I do something for myself every day like write a blog post, do exercise, have a bath, etc. I’ve also stopped worrying about what other people think and just do things that make me and my family happy.
What are your tips for staying sane each day as everyone gets ready for school/work and evening/bedtime?
My tips for staying sane each day is to give yourself small regular rewards and then you can look forward to having those to help you to get the morning chaos.
On your website, I read a quote that said, “Autism is a journey I never planned, but I sure do love my tour guide.” I thought that was a lovely point of view.
Your youngest son has Autism. What lead up to that diagnosis?
When my son had his two-year review check up they said he is quite developmentally delayed so they referred us to a Paediatrician. When he was younger, he didn’t start crawling until he was nearly one and didn’t walk until he was 18 months, although these are still in the expected age range it is still quite late. The Paediatrician put my son on the ASD preschool pathway. This involved lots of form filling, meetings, and visitors both to home and observing him in nursery. After all of this, they diagnosed him with Autism and global development delay.
I recently watched a biography of Temple Grandin, a very accomplished woman who in a lot of ways brought Autism into the spotlight and helped to begin to change the public perspective of Autism. What is something you would like people to know about Autism or people with Autism?
I would like people to know that every single autistic child is completely different and need different things so there is not a one size fits all answer.
Are there any resources for parents or families of children with Autism that you would like to recommend? Is there anywhere you would direct someone to find out more information about Autism?
I believe that the best resources are other parents who are going through something similar, so join social media groups and follow other Autism parents on Twitter and Instagram. I follow the National Autistic Society and their website has lots of useful information.
We have a lovely little local charity called Friends and Families of Special children who offer lots of help and activities, so I would recommend parents to research what they have in the local area.
It’s still very much trial and error with the use of SEN resources. I’ve tried PECS (visual timetables) with Edward to help with the morning routine but that didn’t work with him. One thing that calms him down is liquid timers and his iPAD; whatever their sensory needs are, use things for that. For example, Edward loves wrapping himself up in soft blankets and dressing gowns so for his birthday we bought him a new soft blanket.
The main challenge with Autism is they every single child has different needs, so what works with one probably won’t work with another.
Thank you, Sophie, for allowing me to interview you! It has been wonderful to get to know you.
You can visit Sophie’s fabulous blog at https://mummyofasquarepeg.home.blog/ to read more about her journey and her beautiful family.
I will be featuring another fabulous woman next Monday, so be sure to return and check out the next Momumental Mother!
If you are interested in being featured as a Momumental Mother, drop me an e-mail at email@example.com