I dropped Dylan at his care home this afternoon after another successful weekend; he seems to understand and accept the pattern of his visits home already. I am so impressed by the way Dylan and the care home staff have managed this process; it is still relatively early days but transition is going better than I imagined possible.
The fact my thinking has turned to the second-order challenge of chores indicates just how smoothly things are going. I’m glad that I don’t have anything more important to worry about 🙂 Still, the reality is that they have to be done and I’ve been struggling with this recently.
The chores are getting the better of me because I haven’t found a way of fitting them around the new pattern of Dylan visiting at weekends. Whereas previously I did chores alongside caring for Dylan, since he moved into care I have kept weekends free for him. It doesn’t seem right, given that Dylan is away during the week, that I should be preoccupied with such things while he is visiting. So far, however, I haven’t been able to come up with a way of building them into my new routine.
For the first couple of weeks I picked Dylan up from his care home at 6pm on Saturday, returning him the same time the following day; I would need Saturday to get the chores done, I reasoned, given that I work during the week (the state I am in currently confirms this is indeed the case). I quickly abandoned the 6-6pm routine, however, as it was hopeless in other ways. Having spent the day washing, cleaning and shopping, the last thing I felt like doing was driving to collect Dylan. Besides, it was too late for us to do anything at 6pm so all that happened was that we drove home and went to bed. Returning Dylan at 6pm the next day also felt rubbish as I would get home too late to relax before work again next day.
I tried shifting the timing for Dylan’s visit to 3-3pm. This was slightly better for me in that I had a bit of time on a Sunday evening and enough time to get the most pressing chores done on Saturday. It was terrible, however, in terms of the time Dylan and I got to spend together; it wasn’t possible, I discovered, to do much on either day. So after a couple of frustrating weekends I changed the arrangement again, this time to 1-1pm.There is a lot about the new timing which is better. Picking Dylan up and going directly to an activity seems to work well; we have enough time, now, to do something on Saturday afternoon. Dylan likes time to relax at home too and the 1-1pm visiting time is good for this as he can have a leisurely Sunday morning before returning to the care home after lunch.
But even with these advantages the new timings are not ideal. My Saturday mornings are spent doing shopping and cursory chores at breakneck speed before rushing to pick up Dylan. In practice, there is never enough of Sunday left after I have returned from dropping him off (especially as we never make it back to the care home by 1pm). Sometimes it seems as if I am busier now; certainly I have less time for some things and no more time for myself. I hadn’t anticipated quite how demanding living without Dylan would be.
I’m not complaining of course. There are other ways of weighing this. Dylan has settled so well, and seems so happy at the care home, that the juggling and effort feel more than worthwhile. Although it has created other pressures on my life, not trying to do chores when Dylan is with me has, I suspect, enriched our relationship hugely. I didn’t have any choice before; as a working single parent I had to build household chores into life with Dylan. Now that I can choose not to, however, I can see how frustrating and difficult this must have been for Dylan at times; how many 21 year old men, after all, are happy to drag around with their mothers doing errands?
I suppose where that leads me is to the observation that for an adult with autism/SLD to continue to live at home in a positive way, sufficient support is needed (i.e. two parents or other adults who can share care). Dylan gets involved in self-care tasks at his residential home but one of the reasons he is as happy there as he is, I think, is that his programme of activities is designed around his interests and abilities rather than jobs which are meaningless to him or which create anxiety. It’s hard for single parents, especially if they are working, to create such an environment.
I am constantly relieved and delighted that Dylan finally has the environment and support he needs and I will go on juggling so that Dylan and I can have time together. I’m aware, however, that my current model of visits might not be sustainable longer term; I need to create space for my interests too. No doubt this is something I will return to as Dylan settles.