So we decided to take a vacation this year. And like so many people, it has been a LONG time since we ventured out of the familiar streets of our city.

We decided to pick a week in June to go because we wanted to relax after all the graduation events for Emily, and sort of side step any basketball obligations that our son Michael had.

So we packed up and headed to a very quiet and sparse part of Virginia Beach and I have to say it was a lovely week of doing nothing, nothing and more nothing.

Everyone enjoyed it. Elizabeth loves the beach so much and could stay in the waves for an entire day and not want for anything else except an occasional snack. I am not kidding, she was out there 2 plus hours one day. Elizabeth has SPD (Sensory Processing Disorder) and one would think she might hate the feel of sand and it being stuck to her feet, hands and most surfaces but she doesn’t. In fact, she loves it all.

Now sleeping in a new bed? Not so much. And that my friends is the true struggle for us for vacation.

It is her fear of the dark that started all this sleeping anxiety. And trust me, it isn’t dark by ANY means in ANY room she has EVER been in to sleep.

There are nightlights, flashlights and cool outdoor lantern with adjustable strength lighting…all there to help her KNOW she can use them and all will be well.

We show her the place she will be sleeping weeks out from our trip via the websites we can access.

We talk about the room and where she will put her lights.

We assure her that she will have a flashlight and that she even has one on her phone.

AND STILL she struggles to sleep. And she knows it too because she made sure to get her own Melatonin “to help me sleep”

The first few nights are typically the best because, and this is my theory, she is still rested from home and so she is calmer and can handle to new bed/room better but as she increases in her lack of sleep and increased tiredness it is harder for her to fall asleep and that leads to more tired and well you get the scenario.

But I have to say, that she is quite the trooper when it comes to being tired, she just kept on beaching it, sitting on the deck and relaxing.

But the agitation was slowly creeping in by Friday. She was struggling to stay organized and needed help with things she would typically blow through doing and if she didn’t want to try she would get frustrated and grit her teeth. And our last night of vacation saw us hunting down a place that could do a to-go order or had outdoor seating that didn’t require a 2.5 hour wait ( kid you not) so we finally found a place and it was late. So Elizabeth hung in until she had eaten then she was “ready to head on home” only no one else was done. It was here I could see that she how hard she was working due to her system being tired. So we all finished up and headed out to which she then said ” Anyone want ice cream?” I laughed because she felt relaxed out of the pressure of the restaurant when she was tired and it was loud to then be calmer again. She really is amazing in how hard she works and she knows she is loved so very much.

But the thing that is hard for us is that we know she struggles with this one thing and we have done all the things we can think of to make it easy for her but the struggle is real. And it is hard to watch her disorders affect her days so strongly.

Like I have said so many times before, in my opinion, it all begins with understanding your child and their unique needs and how to support them.

I think that the things we did for her to help her were the best we can do and that communicating with her helped us understand her feelings and to learn if we can do anything else for her. Especially on the car ride home when we were in hour 4 of a 9 hour ride home and she says “Well, I am so tired I am glad we will be home in a few minutes.” We smiled and very gently broke the news to her that she had some time in the car to go.

But I have to say she slept like a champ that night when we arrived home!

So how would I rate the vacation?

I would so give it a 9.5/10. It was a blessing!

I wish everyone a peaceful week.

Michele Gianetti author of Elizabeth Believes in Herself