No sleep, no school, need suggestions!

As you know, SNJ is a parent-driven site and we share your challenges of raising children and young people with SEN or disabilities. We know from experience the frustrations, anxieties and frequent exhaustion that comes along with that and from navigating the jungle of a system we are thrown into. Added to this are the usual trials of running a home and, for many of us, having a paid job too.

But we all make it work, don't we? Maybe not particularly smoothly - there are always little hiccups here and there - but we get from day to day in one piece.


Until one thing too many goes wrong and that's when it can all seem a bit too much. Last week, my children went for a hat-trick and within a few days of each other, all three had come down with chickenpox. Three unwell, scratchy, sensorily overloaded kids, all cooped in at home. With me.

exhausted mother
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Now, this would be difficult enough for any parent, but the logistics of three children with three different needs, in three different schools with three different taxi firms along with those huge sensory issues makes this rather chaotic. Add to this chaos, my husband, Chris, is working nights so the fallout of changes to routine, the sensory overload caused by itching and the cancellation of appointments, keeping three schools and taxi firms posted, the almost comical attempts to put cream on the said pox and keeping the house fairly subdued in the mornings all falls on my shoulders.


With the sleep patterns of three poorly children, one husband’s nightshift and one daft dog who likes routine more than any of us, sleeping was something I could only remember with fondness. Our Personal Assistant’s sister is pregnant so we couldn’t risk contact with the PA either, which meant opening up my laptop to write a post or research anything was a challenge. I managed to achieve the items I absolutely had to get done but everything else sat there, just being added to my “to do” list.

By Friday I was struggling. I was exhausted, ratty and when my beloved husband was silly enough to say, “It feels just like a long weekend doesn’t it?” I had to count to 1000. I did try counting to 10 and then 100, but that wasn’t enough, because the fantasy of being sent to a quiet cell with someone else cooking my meals for 15 years plus was sorely tempting.


Thankfully on Friday, I managed to get some sleep and on Saturday decided to research how to be productive at home, with children and very little sleep.

I am constantly reading other people’s blogs, and often turn to them for advice, ideas and tips. So this weekend, I started to read posts about, Top tips on working from home – with children.   Oh, how I laughed!

The ones I could find were all written by mums with mainstream children and some of their tips have left me not sure whether to giggle hysterically, cry with envy or just swear at my iPad.

I searched and searched and although I could find blogs about how difficult it is, I couldn’t find any tips from fellow parents about how to be productive when the challenges seem insurmountable. We all know that sleep deprivation or disrupted sleep can make everything so much more difficult.

So let’s help each other here.

Many of you will work from home and many of you will be able to relate to my experience. You will all know the feeling of “fogginess” that poor sleep brings. So, tell me, what works for you? If you were sat having this chat with me, rather than reading it here, what advice would you give me? What would you suggest I try?

Everyone tries different things, some things will work well for one but not for others and sometimes we are too tired to even think of anything to try. I have at least another week of chaos so any suggestions would be welcome.

We will put all the suggestions together and share them in a later post.

Debs Aspland
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