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  • Author : Smc
  • support : 2
  • Topic : Looking after ourselves
Senior Contributor

I'm not sure if I can offer a lot of advice, but I can certainly relate. A lot of the same difficulties come up when it's an older sibling. It is really hard to balance the needs of other family members against the very high needs of the one with the MI problems. 

Encouraging the kids to talk can help a lot. Our two sons travelled overseas with me on some short volunteer teaching trips. As part of our preparation, we were regularly doing a 2 hour train trip to the city to do training and preparation. Those trips turned into an unexpected chance to get one on one time with them, and they actually got a captive audience for what they needed to talk about instead of feeling like they had to keep it to themselves because I was already dealing with so much. They were teens/young adults at the time, but I've seen a similar thing happen with their younger sister too. (She's now 12 going on 13.) 

Our daughter's talk time tends to be when she comes in to our bedroom to say goodnight to me. It's our routine "bedtime prayer" spot, but often the conversation that happens is as or more important, or the two just blend in to each other. I probably don't hear all of her worries, but having a time which is just her and me helps her to talk.

So... is there a spot in your family routines that can be made into one on one time? Storytime? While travelling? And yeah, I know routines don't always "happen" like we'd hope. 

Ummm... also age-appropriate honesty, but I get the idea you're in with that already. Lining up a counsellor for the kids that they can call on if they need another person to talk to. Our youngest has a mental health plan and approval for the funded Medicare psychologists sessions through Headspace. (She's right on the youngest limit for their services, thinking KidsHelp might be more appropriate for your family?) She can either contact the psychiatrist for an appointment through her school's student welfare centre, or ask us to make an appointment at the Headspace "quarters". If there's no-where nearby for face to face appointments, maybe via phone instead might work for yours. Or their school might be able to have a counsellor or psycologist visit for appointments. 

Your bedtime situation is a hard one. We've more had the problem of our youngest waking up at night, or having nightmares, or having trouble getting to sleep. Sometimes we've let her into our room to talk for a bit before sending her back to bed, other times we've been too tired and sent her back because "none of us can sleep with you at our door..". Yep ,we all have those times. If it's been a nightmare, usually it would be talk and pray, and often walk her back to her bedroom to tuck her in, but some nights when I've been too tired for that I've let her crawl into bed next to me instead... then ended up gently "kicking her out" back to her own bed when she's been crowding me to the point where I can't sleep. Smiley Tongue Yes, she is kind of "too big for that", but I think it was needed at the time. 

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