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Simple Errands with Special Needs Kids in Tow: Mission Impossible

Yes, I know, all parents have difficulties running errands with young children. It is no easy feat to carry bags of groceries across a parking lot while fumbling in your purse for your car keys and trying to hold your uncooperative two-year-olds hand. It is usually, right about that time that it starts to rain or said two-year-old decides to squat and fill his pants.

Yep, we have all been there.

Shopping CartBut now, add pushing a wheelchair to the mix. With just that one new addition to the task, it becomes completely over-the-top impossible.

We parents of special needs kids juggle our errands with a precise fury of fly-by-the-seat-of-our-pants planning. Wait, did that make any sense? No? EXACTLY!

Honey, stop and get some milk, eggs, and drop off this bill at the clinic. Does this pharmacy have a drive-thru…Thank God! Sorry, kids, can’t stop at that park today…someone needs a diaper change so we gotta head home. Crap! We need gas, but can’t pay at this pump!

The “come on guys, lets head into the store for a couple things” phrase does not come out of THIS mom’s mouth without a rise of blood pressure and a sigh. It is not easy!

Take for example this past weekend. Bryan and I needed to run errands that we couldn’t complete during the week. In most cases of quick pick-up, one of us stays in the car with the kids while the other runs in. However, a diaper change is needed. So, not proud to admit, we do this in the back of the SUV as most bathrooms don’t allow for room (or sanitation!) to change our 5-year-old on the floor.

Next, we decide to stop for an ice cream at a new little shop downtown. Step one, find a handicap spot to park. Step two, unload wheelchair and child. Step three, catch running away toddler. Step four, when noticing that the quaint old building has a series of stairs to the door, we pray to keep the two-year-old occupied by holding the keys while we lift the wheelchair up the steps. Phewww… we are IN. Now, order, carry out cups and cones to a bistro-type table (not wheelchair-friendly) to the only seating, outdoors on the patio, and down those stairs.

Simple, “carefree” trips for a frozen treat turn into sweaty sessions of problem solving. Needless to say, we don’t take these trips often. New places have to be staked out with views of the steps up and down, restroom quality, and options for seating before we try to partake. We tend to play it safe and go the easy route of places we know work for us.

Gotta go to the bathroom while on the way to an appointment? Sorry, hold it; too hard. Hands sticky from the ice cream? Babywipes in my purse work better than carrying you back up the stairs.

Until the world turns to a completely handicap accessible place, we must continue to plan, plot, and carry out our daily Missions Impossible.

Photo Courtesy Todd Anderson

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