MS Parent Advocate is a supportive blog focusing on the challenges and wins of parenting children with additional needs. Based in Hampshire Martha runs workshops for schools and other education providers in Surrey, London & Hampshire on how to improve empathy between teachers and parents.

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Room Rules


So, we are in. Well, half in. Well actually probably not even that far in but we are getting there. This house move has been pure hell (aren't they always?) but this time, the end result is going to be wonderful.


There has been so much to juggle. For three weeks now I have been hovering between two houses and a storage container, while ferrying my children back and forth to school and trying to keep some level of normality as the furniture around them disappears. A complete change of routine for both children has been distressing and wearing for them and both are tired and tearful. The house needed to be gutted - a wall had to come down and every single other wall and door needed to be painted; funds don't allow for a decorator so the three coats of paint in each room have been largely down to me. My daughter has just changed school again and moving out of our rental house, however small and squalid, has proved a change too far. It is rare that I see her crying out of true sadness, usually it is fear and frustration, but her reaction to this jolt has been heartbreaking. No amount of 'but it'll be so much better, you will see all your old toys again, your room is the biggest in the house' was ever going to make the blindest bit of difference. The brutal truth is that it is the loss of yet another home for a child that has moved too often - her gut tells her it is a terrifying thing full of sadness and grief. She has suffered badly. So it was essential that her room was completely set up before she saw it for the first time, even though being the last person to see the house nearly finished her off. If I had shown her the old-granny wallpaper and the 1950s brown tiled floor in her room I doubt I would ever have got her back over the doorstep. So her room was finished first, a quiet oasis in a sea of builders dust and paint pots. Thank goodness it worked. She saw it, with the colour she had chosen on the walls, and she loved it.


My son has been stoic. Desperate to leave the rental and the enforced car-ride to school, he has thrown himself into loading the car, lifting furniture and and trying to build new routines in order to be safe. He can now walk to and from school and has practised with his own door keys thrilled by his new found independence. His room is a loft conversion, accessed via secret stairs and a half-sized door. It's the kind of room a teenager would kill for; away from the rest of the family with enough room for all his gadgets and books, painted in his choice of lurid green and already plastered in posters. Little feet have already trespassed up the stairs and, mindful of the destruction that comes with them, my son has written and laminated a list of rules for his sister, which have been read to her and pasted on the outside of his door for future reference.


Their first night was tough, my boy rapidly pacing around the house for over two hours, trying to accustom himself to the new sounds, smells, lights and textures. My daughter stayed awake until after midnight, petrified of her new surroundings. She got out of bed and woke me up to go to the kitchen every fifteen minutes for over four hours. But night two was better and night three was so good that we all over-slept.


We will all have new rules, every one of us is settling into a new routine. Huge change has arrived again and yet again we have survived it. We will be happy here. I haven't felt so positive in years.


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