There Is So Much More to Montessori than Shelves and Materials

We've been in our new home for almost three weeks now without furniture, shelving, or storage pieces (with the exception of bins and boxes).

I'll be honest.  It's been a wee bit of a challenge for me.  I like a clean and orderly home with everything in its place.  Our situation has me pondering a lot about Montessori and what it means.

I've come to realize there is so much more to Montessori than shelves and materials.

There Is So Much More to Montessori than Shelves and Materials

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In our current home, I don't have shelves. I don't have a place to set out learning activities.  Heck, I don't even have a table.  Until we close on our house in NY there is no way to purchase these items.

I started to become discouraged because it appeared that using the Montessori Method wasn't possible right now.  If I didn't have shelves, a table, or printed activities, I just couldn't pull it off.

Thankfully my feelings of despair only lasted a few minutes before I realized that these feelings were the most foolish ones I'd had in a long time.

Montessori is not just about kid sized furniture and shelving units.  It's not just about specific materials or even printed activities.  Yes these things are good, but if that's all we do, we're missing the point.

Montessori is a state of mind.

It's a philosophy.

It's a way of life.

Just because I don't have beautiful shelves arranged with activities, or a table for my children to work at, doesn't mean that all is lost.  There are so many other aspects of Montessori that are 100% doable in our present circumstances.

And so, over the past week, I've made it my mission to focus on different aspects of Montessori that I CAN do as much as possible.

It's interesting. Without the preparation of activities and classroom work that is usually part of my daily routine, I find it so much easier to focus on other parts of Dr. Maria Montessori's method, some of which are far more important.

Perhaps being without furniture and shelves is a hidden blessing in disguise?

Here's what I've been focusing on.


Have you ever stepped back and just observed your child?

  • How does she play?
  • What is she drawn to?
  • What interests does she have?
  • How does she problem solve?
  • What does she want to learn?
  • How does her body move?
  • Does she like to stay still?
  • Is she a helper?
  • Does she like things orderly and clean?
  • How does she respond to various types of sensory stimuli?
  • What does she talk about?

Since we've moved and I'm not as focused on "getting things done," I've had the time to sit and observe each of my children.  I've taken a step back and listened to their questions.  This is not to say that I didn't observe my children before, but this time has been different.  There are no distractions.

Observation is one of the most important aspects of the Montessori Method.  It is the way we learn to follow the child.  Without observation, we can not be an effective Montessori teacher or parent.

As we observe and follow, it is amazing how much we're able to help our children learn.  Observation doesn't require shelves and materials.  It can occur every day in our natural environment if we allow time for it.

Observation this past week has taught me what my children can and can't do on their own in our new environment.  It has taught me when I have to supervise and when I can leave my children to fend for themselves. In some cases, I observed that our environment needed the smallest tweak in order to allow for complete independence.


As I observed my children over the past week or so, I've learned that they really do enjoy work opposed to free play.  They desire tasks with a purpose.  If the task involves physical activity, that's even better.

Due to these observations I have provided more opportunities for my children to do work.  They have torn down trees, collected firewood, picked fruit, prepared meals and so much more!

It's always best to have child size tools to accomplish work tasks, but if you don't, not all is lost.  There are so many projects at home or outside that don't require special materials.  Don't hesitate to involve your children in day to day "work" tasks.  These tasks not only teach them necessary life skills but lead to a path of independence  and self satisfaction that can otherwise not be attained.


So often it is much easier to do something for our children than to wait patiently for them to do it themselves.  But when given independence to learn and accomplish tasks on their own, children flourish.

Independence does not require the purchase of shelves or Montessori materials.

It can be as simple as rearranging items so that they are in reach.

It can mean teaching rules and boundaries in order to give more freedom in an environment.

It can also mean sitting back to observe and follow, rather than giving orders.

Through independence children can develop confidence in their abilities to function in the environment around them.  They learn to have respect for themselves and their surroundings.

At our house in New York the children had to be supervised when outside due to the circumstances of our neighborhood.  We had a very small backyard.  Playing in the front yard wasn't an option.  At our new home in Virginia there is wide open space for the children to roam free in the front, back and sides of the house where I don't have to keep as close of an eye on them.

I won't lie, we have gone through more band-aids and bandages in two weeks than we did during an entire year at our home in NY.  I have never seen so many bumps and bruises on my children.  There have been other fun adventures as well.  But the more independence I'm able to give them, the more they are thriving.  They're also realizing it's not a big deal to have a scrape or a bruise, which is so nice!

Natural Learning

Too often we think that Montessori means activities placed on trays, and beautifully arranged on shelves.  But this concept is only a small piece of what Dr. Maria Montessori taught.  Learning occurs everywhere, not just in a classroom or a Montessori space created in the home.

The earth is an absolutely amazing place to live, filled with such beauty and awe.  Let us remember to enjoy all that it has to offer.  Go outside.  If that's not possible, focus on day to day tasks in the home, or even simple conversations related to questions our children have.

Natural learning situations require no preparation.  They just happen.

This week while outside, we've discussed the sounds cicadas make.  We've watched a spider and beetle go head to head.  Sunshine has learned the ins and outs of picking peaches.  Princess experienced first hand how wineberries taste if you pick them too soon, and then learned exactly how to tell when they're perfectly ripe and ready to eat.

Indoors the girls decided to line up the shoes in the front entryway from biggest to smallest.  Sunshine asked if she could help make her lunch.  Both girls learned how to mop hardwood floors.  The boys studied paper wasps from their bedroom window.  There are always natural learning experiences to be had.

Teacher/Parent Transformation

It's so easy to want to dive into the Montessori Method head first and race to implement it perfectly.  Unfortunately this is a very unrealistic goal.  In order for Montessori to truly become a part of us, a transformation has to occur.  The transformation that I speak of is not one children go through.  It's a transformation of the parent and/or teacher.

This does not happen as trays with activities are arranged on a shelf.  It doesn't occur when setting up a Montessori environment.  Transformation occurs as we come to understand Maria Montessori's philosophy and truly embrace her vision.

How can we do this?  It is impractical for everyone to become Montessori certified.  Instead we can begin with reading books written by Dr. Maria Montessori.  If you're looking for a place to start, select one of the books below.  They're absolutely fabulous!

I try to read from one of Maria Montessori's books on a daily basis.  It helps keep me in the right mind frame.  Not a day goes by that I don't learn something new.  Dr. Maria Montessori's work is truly inspiring!

If you don't have child sized furniture, shelving, or Montessori Materials, please don't despair.  There is more to Montessori!  Focus on observing your children.  Identify work that children can help with without the purchase of child-sized tools.  Encourage independence.  Allow time and focus for natural learning experiences.  Give yourself time to transform as you dive into Maria Montessori's life work.

There is so much more to Montessori than shelves and materials!

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There is so much more to Montessori than shelves and materials.

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8 Tips for Attending a Hot Air Balloon Festival with Special Needs

Life has been just a tad different since we've moved to Virginia from New York.  This has also caused some changes in holiday traditions.  The 4th of July has always been a tricky holiday.  Neither one of our girls enjoy fireworks.  Crowds of people, a late night outside in the dark, and the scents of alcohol and smoke filling the air are huge triggers.

Our boys on the other hand love fireworks and everything that has to do with the 4th of July.  Most often my husband Jason and I split up for the night, one taking the boys and one staying behind with the girls.  But this year we found a way to celebrate that everyone could enjoy.

What did we do?  We went to the local hot air balloon festival, bright and early in the morning to watch nine hot air balloons set up and take flight.  It was an absolutely amazing experience that the kiddos will never forget, set up perfectly to accommodate everyone's special needs.  Here are all of the details of our experience and 8 tips for attending a hot air balloon festival with special needs.
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8 Tips for Attending a Hot Air Balloon Festival with Special Needs

1. We chose to attend the event bright and early in the morning when there were less people around.  The fewer people the less chaos and anxiety.  Because the kiddos had just woken up, they were at their best, which is always nice.

2. Knowing there would be fire and loud noises from the hot air balloons, we made the decision to watch from a distance.  This was a significant benefit to those with sensory issues and to those who don't like large crowds.  Being away from crowds also made it possible for the kiddos to move around when needed, as the whole process from beginning to end took quite a long time.

3. We made sure to dress appropriately for the event bringing along extra sweatshirts and blankets just in case.  Though most days here are around 90 degrees F, the mornings are still very cool.  I wanted to make sure no one was uncomfortable.  Everyone was wearing sneakers and brought along our handicap strollers.  We knew we'd be out in a field and there would be a lot of walking.

The family up bright and early to watch hot air balloons take flight.

4. I also remembered to bring bug spray.  Insects are everywhere here in the Blue Ridge Mountains, morning noon and night.  Ticks are also abundant.  Knowing we'd be in a field, I didn't want to end up coming home with everyone eaten alive.

5. Lastly, I remembered to bring sound blocking headphones.  If you're not familiar with hot air balloons, you may not know that they can be quite loud as they're filling and rising.  Even at a distance you could hear the distinct sound.  It was great to know that the headphones were there if Sunshine needed them.

Four kiddos watching the hot air balloon festival.

Now I rocked the tips I've shared above, and then there were a few others I didn't do so well at that I thought I'd mention, so your first experience can be even more successful than ours.

6. Learn how hot air balloons work before you go and watch them set up and launch for the first time.  The kiddos had so many questions, and though they were mesmerized, they wanted to know all of the ins and outs.  This can be done through books, experiments, etc.

7. Bring lots of snacks and drinks along.  There is a lot of waiting and standing around as hot air balloons set up and prepare to launch into the sky.  We were there for two hours, which was much longer than I expected.  Because it was so early in the morning and I wanted to be sure to provide incentives for good behaviors, I told the kiddos we would pick up a special breakfast afterwards.  If I could do it again, I'd bring the breakfast with us.

8. Don't forget binoculars!  Whether you're close to the action or farther away, seeing the details of each balloon and the set up process would be so much nicer with binoculars.  Dinomite regretted not bringing his and commented on their value as we were watching.

Without the binoculars the kiddos still really enjoyed the entire morning.  They loved watching the balloons fill with air.  Each balloon was different in design and color.  The only hiccup we had was when one balloon started to come close to us in the sky.  It kind of freaked Sunshine out a bit, as she worried it would fall on top of us. Thankfully once it decided to go another way, she was much better.

Our sweet Sunshine's reaction when a hot air balloon flew overhead.

The boys on the other hand enjoyed every single minute of the morning.  They LOVED watching every step of the process and couldn't get over how magnificent the balloons looked both on the ground and in the air.  I'm guessing we'll be doing this again next year!

The boys watching hot air balloons set up and take flight.

After we watched all of the balloons take flight we headed to the store to pick up some yummy breakfast treats that everyone could enjoy.

Our 4th of July breakfast!

Then we all took a nap.

It was the best 4th of July yet and the first one we've spent all together in a very long time.

What did you do for the 4th of July?  I'd love to hear about it!

If you enjoyed this post, you may also enjoy the posts below.

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8 Tips for Attending a Hot Air Balloon Festival with Special Needs

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Gift Ideas for Little Girls

Princess' birthday is this month and as always we've put together a wish list for extended family.  I won't lie. It was a bit challenging this time, as over the years it's become clear that Princess can't handle a lot of stuff.  Her destructive tendencies and unsafe choices make gift giving difficult.  Add her emotional age of three to the scenario...

I could think of no better title for this wish list than Gift Ideas for Little Girls.  In so many ways, even though Princess is turning eight, she's really only three.   There are some areas where she's developmentally and cognitively age appropriate, such as reading skills and some interests, but when it comes to toys, she's not even close.
Gift Ideas for Little Girls
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After the last round of destruction in her bedroom, my husband Jason and I decided that only soft items and a few books are safe to keep there.  Thankfully she can be supervised in other areas of the house when cooking, baking, coloring, stamping, and watching movies.  Here is her newest list!

Baby Doll and Accessory Gift Ideas for Little Girls

Princess received her first Baby Stella at Christmas and absolutely loves her.  She's quite envious of all of her sister's accessories and has asked for some of her own.

Baby Stella Dress Up Ladybug Costume

Baby Stella Snuggle Sleep Sack

Baby Stella Fanciful Frills Holiday Dress Purchased

Baby Stella My Treat Outfit

Baby Stella Grocery and Soft Food Set

Baby Stella Sweet Dreams Doll

Hand Puppet Gift Ideas for Little Girls

Princess has also been envious of Sunshine's hand puppets and has been asking for some of her own. The two play with them on a regular basis.

HABA Prince Glove Puppet

HABA Grandma Glove Puppet Purchased

HABA Hansel Glove Puppet

HABA Gretel Glove Puppet

HABA Magician Glove Puppet

HABA Dragon Glove Puppet

Horse themed gift ideas for girls.

Over the past year Princess has become interested in horses wanting to learn all about them. We are hoping this will lead to good things and possibly some riding lessons in the future which could be wonderful therapy for her.

The Kingfisher Horse and Pony Encyclopedia

Movie: Flicka Purchased

Book:  Black Beauty Purchased

Melissa & Doug Wooden Horse Stable Stamps Purchased

Melissa & Doug Horses Jigsaw Puzzle Purchased

Wonderful World of Horses Coloring Book Purchased

American Girl themed gift ideas for girls.

American Girl continues to be a name that Princess enjoys.  She's not one for the dolls, but she loves the books, movies and cookbooks.

DVD: American Girl 4 Favorite Movies

American Girl Lea 3 Book Set

Book: American Girl Paige Paints the Sky Purchased

American Girl Breakfast & Brunch Cookbook

American Girl Parties Cookbook

Book:  American  Girl The Care and Keeping of You 1

Summer clothes gift ideas for girls 2017

Princess is in desperate need of clothes.  I was able to purchase some before we moved, but most are for NY weather, not Virginia weather.  The kiddos play outside so often and get so dirty that we're not longer able to wear an outfit for more than one day.  Princess needs more summer pjs as well.

When I purchase clothes for my kiddos, I always purchase them in outfits. If I can't find tops and bottoms that match, I don't buy them because they'll never be worn.  This is why you'll notice tops and bottoms paired up below.  If you're unable to purchase a complete set, know that Princess will not have anything else that goes with the single piece.

We are very big on modesty in our home.  Our girls wear longer shorts and shortsleeve shirts. No tank tops, cap sleeves or short shorts are permitted.

Books Make Me Happy Graphic Tee Size 10 with Navy Playground Shorts Size 10 Purchased

Smart Girl Graphic Tee Size 10 with Pink Playground Shorts Size 10

Explore the Galaxy Graphic Tee Size 10 with Pink Playground Shorts Size 10

Flamingo Ballerina Graphic Knit Tee Size Size M with Medium Wash Denim Bermuda Shorts Size 7

Girls Sky Blue Gem Shortie 2 Piece Gymmies Size 12

Girls Pillow Pink Giraffe Shortie 2 Piece Gymmies Size 12

Carter's 4 pc Flamingo Set Size 12

Dancing Print Sleep Gown Size 12

Sock and shoe gift ideas for girls summer 2017
Princess is also in desperate need of socks and shoes.  She had almost grown out of her shoes a couple months ago.  Then she had a growth spurt.  Princess wears Nike shoes because they are the narrowest shoes we can find to fit her feet.  In New York we barely ever wore sneakers during the summer, but here we're wearing them on a daily basis, which means more than one pair is necessary.

As Sunshine has grown she's taken over all of Princess' socks.  This leaves Princess with barely any.  Thankfully she LOVES socks.  So receiving socks as a gift is something that she looks forward to.

Blue Mermaid Knee Socks Size M

Flamingo Crew Socks Size M

6-Pack Crew Socks Size 8-16

Blue Sky Paisley Socks Size M

Bright Coral Zebra Socks Size M

Coral Palm Tree Socks Size M

White Chevron Socks Size M

Stripe Ankle Socks Size M

Converse Chuck Taylor All Star High Tops Color Pink Size 1Y

Converse Chuck Taylor All Star Low Tops Color Pink Size 1Y

7-Pack Week Day Ankle Socks Size 8-16

Nike Kawa Sandals Size 1Y

We are getting excited to celebrate Princess' birthday in our new home and hope the PTSD that comes back to haunt her each year will diminish.
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To Save a Child

What are you willing to do to save a child?

We fostered and adopted.

We put our lives on hold to work on attachment in hopes that it might work out alright in the end.

We've attended parenting classes.

We've met with behavioral specialists, doctors, therapists, etc.

We've read every book we can get our hands on.

We've tried medication.

Yet still, we're faced with a dark cloud looming.
To Save a Child-One family's journey to helping their special needs child.
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Medications can only help so much.

Doctors, specialists, and therapists do their best, but no one has all of the answers.

We can follow advice given in parenting classes, but it doesn't always work in every situation.

Attachment is a very hard thing to repair once broken.

Mood Disorders are very hard to treat in young children.

Autism becomes a very complicated thing when combined with a mood disorder and Reactive Attachment Disorder, all in the same child.

Here we are.  

The specialists have said that it's very likely Sunshine will be in residential by the time she's 8 years old.

She is finally stable with the help of medications, but of course they have side effects.  And wouldn't you know those side effects are to a point now where we have to wean off one medication and try another.  The vicious cycle never ends.

We've always said we're willing to do whatever it takes to save a child.  After all, none of this is Sunshine's fault.  It just happened.  So we pray and we hope and we pray some more.  That's when it dawns on us.  There's one thing left to try.  We can change her environment.

The thought of sending our daughter to a residential facility breaks me to the core.  All of the attachment work we've done...  All of the progress she's made...  And yet we know that this may be a reality in the future, despite our best efforts.

Sunshine makes her own choices, which then all have consequences.  When the safety of others is threatened, she's held accountable.  If she puts herself in danger, it's our job to make sure she's safe.  We can teach her right from wrong, but that still doesn't mean she'll choose the right.

For the past ten years our family has lived the city life.  Our home has been large with too much indoor space, and not enough outdoor space.  Playing outside is only possible with an adult present due to safety concerns related to strangers and neighbors alike.  In fact this Spring, circumstances were such that our children preferred not going outside.  There was too much chaos.

We needed to change our environment.

For over a year we've been trying to apply for home modification grants and other funding to create an environment where Sunshine would thrive.  Every single time we've been blocked due to red tape about rules and regulations etc.

My husband and I felt so stuck.  What were we going to do?

And that's when we saw it.

The perfect house.

It just happened to show up in my facebook feed.
To Save a Child-One family's journey to helping their fhild with special needs.
Never in a million years did we think we had a chance of actually living in this home.  For one, it's in Virginia.  We've been living in New York.

The price was most likely out of our reach, especially with all of the land.  But wait?  It wasn't.

Our house in New York would never sell though.  Or so we thought.

It has a buyer.

And so...  

We have moved to the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia and are living in the most beautiful old farmhouse I've ever set eyes on, complete with two acres of land for our children to roam.

The house meets Sunshine's needs.

She's able to run and play for hours without worry or fear.

We've only been here a week, and she's already functioning better than we've ever seen.  All of our children are.

Yes there have been sacrifices.

This home is much smaller than our home in New York.  Our furniture pieces were too big.  So were our Montessori shelves.  All of them were sold before we came.  They're easily replaceable.

But, at the same time, small has been so nice.  It's more manageable.  And Sunshine... She has always done better in small spaces.

It's been wonderful to start from scratch, building a Montessori-inspired home that will meet the needs of all of our children.

My husband has returned to work full time.  He now works for the county as a mental health emergency pre-screener.  We miss him dearly at home, but it brings great comfort to know he works directly with those who may be involved with Sunshine later on if things go downhill.

We consider ourselves so blessed.  Our prayers have been answered.  The view from our home is beautiful.  We can't get enough of the fireflies at night.  Our first campfire in the backyard is planned for the weekend.  Fresh new paint will soon be going on the walls of each of the kiddos' bedrooms.

The last three months have been exhausting and more work than we could have ever imagined.

We've had to:
  • Prepare our home to sell.
  • Sort through and pack up all we could take with us.
  • Sell off all of our items that we couldn't bring.
  • Drive from New York to Virginia with four special needs children.
  • Drive a moving truck from New York to Virginia with what things we could bring.
  • Unpack and settle in our new home.

It's all been worth it.

We are so ready to begin this new adventure in life.  We are out to save a child... our child, in any way we can.  She now has the freedom to run, in a world that is smaller, which seems to be exactly what she's needed.  Oh how we pray it will be enough to save her from a future that seems so dark.  She is so worth saving!

If you enjoyed this post, you may also enjoy the posts below.
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To Save a Child-One family's journey to saving their child with special needs.

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10 Tips for Running Errands with a Special Needs Child

Over the years we've had our fair share of issues when it comes to running errands with our four special needs children.  Each kiddo is so different with their own set of triggers, sensory issues, and anxieties.  I thought that by our fourth child, we'd be experts. Little did I know we were entering a whole new realm of difficult.

I'm not exaggerating when I say it's taken years to figure out how to be successful running errands with Sunshine.  It's only now that I feel confident sharing our 10 tips for running errands with a special needs child.

10 tips for running errands with a special needs child
This post contains affiliate links.


I remember Dinomite becoming so extremely upset when people would not say hello to him at the store.  He did not understand social cues.  Dinomite has always been extremely sensitive to sounds, smells and touches as well.

But despite all of this, I don't ever remember him melting down except for when it was time leave the house to run errands and when we'd transition back to the car after errands.  And then... Oh my!


When Bulldozer was an infant and toddler and we'd run errands or go anywhere, he would lose all expression on his face and revert back into his own world.  He could not NOT touch things.  And if he was extremely overstimulated, (basically every time we went to Walmart) he would end up in a heap on the floor unable to walk.

If didn't end up on the floor Bulldozer would wander.  He would become so easily distracted.  It's not that he was trying to run, he just went where he wanted to go, thankfully he moved slowly.


Princess would jump all over the place and still does.  She just can not keep still.  Safety goes out the window when we're outside of our home.  Her eyes are also an issue.  She is extremely sensitive to light.  If Princess doesn't have her sunglasses, she has a rough time.

Needless to say I've been the recipient of many stares, glares, and unsolicited words of wisdom by total strangers who feel it's their right to tell me how to parent.  Truth be told I became used to this.  But nothing could prepare me for what running errands would be like with Sunshine.


Now let me give Sunshine credit where credit is due.  It took her until the age of three before she would sit in a car seat, stroller, or cart without freaking out.  A freak out always includes a raging meltdown with physical aggression.  These freak outs would last until she was removed from the situation.  She is now okay when seated on the go.  This is HUGE!

It took over a year for Sunshine to show consistent success while running a single short errand with Daddy or Mommy.  By short I mean there was one purpose or one item that needed to be purchased at a single store.  We practiced at least a couple times each week.

Success meant that she didn't rage or become physically aggressive and she stayed safe.  Sunshine loves to run off and go with anyone. At times she also likes to be inappropriate with her words.  But now, she can usually do a pretty good job following the rules.

It took a very long time to understand Sunshine's sensory issues, triggers, and anxieties.  We used our incident questionnaire on a regular basis to put the pieces together.  Once we understood what was going on, which was a mix of everything, we went to work on a plan so that we could once again run errands as a family and have a pleasant experience while doing so.

10 Tips for Running Errands with a Special Needs Child

1.  Map out a plan ahead of time.
Sunshine really struggles with transitions especially when she doesn't know what's coming next, or if it's not something she likes.  If we make a plan ahead of time and share it with her, she is less anxious and therefore transitions better while on the go.

2.  Stick to the plan.
Changes in routine or even in purchases can really wreak havoc with Sunshine.  If we stick to the plan, she can usually hold herself together, but if we don't, most often either myself or my husband end up in the van with a raging child.

3. Create a visual schedule.
We love to use our visual schedule flip book when running errands.  It includes a picture for every store and errand we may need to run, placed in order so Sunshine knows where we're going and when. She keeps it with her so she feels more in control and knows where we've been and where we're going.

4.  Build incentives and reinforcers into your plans and schedule.
Sunshine loves to eat out at restaurants.  We use this to our advantage, planning some of our most challenging errands before mealtime so she has a reason to keep it together and function well.

5.  Bring yummy snacks and drinks along.
There are times when incentives and reinforcers are just not enough, especially in places like Walmart and shoe stores.  In those moments a yummy snack or drink can be a great distraction and enough to keep things going smoothly.  Sometimes the drive thru window works as well.

6.  Have games or activities ready for when waiting in line.
Sunshine may do extremely well while in a store, but then falls apart while waiting in line to pay.  This is why we have a few games prepared for when she needs them.  Sometimes we' play I Spy.  Other times it's Guess Who with Disney Characters.  Then there are times when we sing songs.  It all depends on her mood.

7.  Bring along a travel size sensory kit.
We can never predict when there will be some type of construction, when people are waxing the floors, or if there's a lawn mower right outside the door.  Sometimes a baby may be screaming.  It's at these times that Sunshine's sound blocking headphones and comfy blanket come in handy, along with other items from her sensory kit.  Her wallet is a favorite as she loves to collect receipts.

8.  Dress appropriately.
This may seem like a given, but with Sunshine it's a pretty big deal. Appropriately means no hair ties, buttons, snaps, zippers, or sequins.  Sunshine feels most comfortable in a pair of leggings and a t-shirt.  Anything else and the added sensory input may just put her over the edge.  Oh, and she's always cold, so another layer packed just in case is a necessity.

9.  Make the special needs known.
This may be the opposite of what you may want to do, but in circumstances where the child is raging and physically aggressive, using our handicap stroller or those wonderful new handicap carts for older children are such a blessing.  Not only do they provide a safe way for you to transport your child from the store to the car if need be, but they alert everyone of what you're dealing with.

Using a handicap stroller or cart also helps when you have a child who can't be safe or still, or for one who runs or wanders.

10.  Don't skip on sleep.
Waking up early, staying out late, or skipping nap time when running errands is a sure recipe for disaster.  Plan your schedule accordingly.  So many meltdowns can be avoided, by following this simple tip.  Sunshine NEEDS her nap everyday.  When she doesn't get it, we know a raging meltdown will occur.

Errand days are a lot of work, but it's worth it when we can all go out together and enjoy ourselves.  Learning and following these 10 tips for running errands with a special needs child have been crucial to our success.  If we choose not to follow even of them, we pay the price.  It's our hope that they can help you too.

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This post is part of the Parenting Children with Special Needs Series.  If you'd like to read more excellent posts in the series, click the links below!
Dear Mom at the Park | This Outnumbered Mama

10 tips for running errands with a special needs child
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