Staycations Beat Vacations for Easing Caregiver Stress

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by Sabrina Johnson |

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Staycations \ Angelman Syndrome News \ A tranquil nature scene at Callaway Gardens Resort and Gardens in Pine Mountain, Georgia.

Sabrina L. Johnson

Callaway Resort and Gardens in Pine Mountain, Georgia, is a perfect staycation spot for columnist Sabrina L. Johnson and her family.

When raising a child with Angelman syndrome, life can be stressful. Taking vacations to ease that stress can sometimes have the opposite effect. Although my family doesn’t have picture-perfect exotic getaways, we do have a plan for relaxing that works for us.

We don’t take a lot of vacations, but we do manage to enjoy several staycations each year.

All things considered

Once my husband and I started to realize what life would be like raising a child with Angelman syndrome, we vowed to live as normally as possible. One of the things that makes this possible is resisting the urge to compare. Taking off to go somewhere without a plan is never a good idea for us.

We must also be aware of activities that aren’t suitable for our 11-year-old Angel, Juliana. Juliana started walking around 4 years old. She has a great range of mobility that includes running. However, activities that involve lots of walking or hiking are never ideal for her.

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Going away takes real work

Each member of our family, except for my husband, has a dietary restriction. So, eating can be challenging when we are vacationing in a new place. Juliana’s adjustment to new things must also be factored in.

Staycation \ Angelman Syndrome News \ A nighttime shot of Juliana smiling in front of a glaring Atlanta Braves neon sign outside the ballpark.

Stressless fun at home: Juliana takes in the lights and action at an Atlanta Braves game. (Photo by Sabrina L. Johnson)

With exceptions like this, most families might choose to stay home. However, these are some of the reasons that staycations have become the getaway of choice for us. When we take in the limitations we must consider, staying close to home gives us more flexibility and causes less stress.

Labor Day is approaching soon, and I know many families will use the extended weekend as the last getaway of the summer. We usually plan something low-key to take advantage of the extra day. This is when not comparing our family to others becomes so important.

Nothing wrong with home sweet home

The upcoming holiday extends the weekend an extra day. However, for us, that’s not a lot of extra time. Whether we go on a staycation or vacation, it may take Juliana several days to get adjusted to new surroundings.

So, there is no staycation in the works for us for the popular three-day weekend. We will have a longer break soon that will make a getaway possible. Knowing what works for our family makes all the difference before we even consider leaving home.

Staycation \ Angelman Syndrome News \ Buckled safely in the back seat of a car, Juliana smiles and raises her index finger as her family heads to a nearby hotel.

Juliana smiles while heading to a staycation outing. During last year’s spring break staycation, her family stayed in a hotel close to home and visited the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta. (Photo by Sabrina L. Johnson)

It has taken some trial and error for us to get this right for our family. Initially, there was a lot of frustration in not taking a “regular” vacation. But now, I know better. We have mastered the art of local fun. I don’t worry about what other families are doing. I think about what works for my family and that’s what I execute and enjoy.

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Note: Angelman Syndrome News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Angelman Syndrome News, or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Angelman syndrome.

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