Running around to appointments is a reality for all moms. There’s the dentist, the paediatrician, the annual optometry check-up for each of the kids. For moms who have children with special needs, those appointments are multiplied at least ten fold.
Occupational therapist, speech therapist, physical therapist, psychologist, psychiatrist, medical specialists, geneticists, social skills classes, just to mention a few, all make for a very busy and potentially chaotic schedule.
As the mom of seven kids and with five of them having special needs, I have learned a lot about juggling appointments with life. I have also found some secrets that have made my life so much easier. I hope in sharing them with you, I can help you save a bit of sanity and a lot of time!
These tips will make juggling multiple appointments and errands and classes and life run much more smoothly:
- Book the appointments for first thing in the morning. This will ensure that you will get in right on time and there won’t be any waiting. This tip alone will save you so much time!
- Ask if it’s possible for them to do their appointment confirmations via text or email. It used to feel like I spent as much time on the phone confirming the appointments as I did actually making the appointments in the first place. Since I switched to having them text or email me to confirm, it has saved me time and frustration.
- Have a designated appointment day every week. I have a set day that I leave open for appointments and running errands. I know that I will be out that day, so it’s easy to plan everything. In my life, one day isn’t enough for all the appointments, but it helps.
- Batch book. Set aside one time to book all the appointments for the month. This not only saves time, it saves mental energy because you get it all done in one sitting.
- Program all the relevant phone numbers into your smart phone (if you have one). Having easy access to the numbers makes it that much easier. I’ve even been known to batch book appointments (see #4) while sitting waiting at an appointment.
- Get to know the receptionists. Be extra kind to them. Bring chocolate. I am not kidding. The receptionist is the gate-keeper and if you want those early morning time slots or to be called first when they have a cancellation or to be given grace if you show up late to an appointment because another child’s appointment ran late, be extremely kind to the receptionists.
- Location, location! Try to find specialists who are on the same side of the city so that you can book appointments on the same day and not have as much travel time.
- Find specialists who are willing to come to your home. People are always shocked to hear this, but it is possible to find trained professionals in many specialities who will come right into your home. Not only will this save you time, your child will feel more comfortable and may do better. We did speech therapy for two of our daughters over Skype from right in our house.
- Use the More Calm in the Chaos Planner. I designed this planner especially for moms of kids with special needs. It has everything you could need. When it comes to appointments, it has an Appointments-at-a-glance sheet as well as one that allows you to go more in-depth such as noting questions you want to be sure to ask at the appointment and keeping track of referrals made. It also allows you to keep referral letters, diagnosis papers, prescriptions, and medication logs all in one place and gives you a place to track symptoms or patterns to be able to share with the professionals working with your child.
- Take pictures of important documents. My trick is that I take a picture of important papers so that even if I forget the originals at home (which I’ve been known to do), I can still show the picture of them at the appointment. Examples of things that I take pictures of: dental x-rays, regular x-rays, medical test results, diagnosis letters, audiograms, and prescriptions.
I hope this list of tips and tricks will help streamline your appointments and make your life as a busy mom just a little bit easier. You can also read my tips for surviving waiting rooms with kids for ideas for once you’re actually at the appointments.
For more helpful tips for parenting children with special needs, join me for a free 5 part email series, Little Hearts, Big Worries offering resources and hope for parents.
Check out how other moms of children with special needs manage their time:
How to Win at Time Management When You’re a Busy Special Needs Parent | My Home Truths
How Visual Schedules Can Assist with Time Management Skills | Kori at Home
7 Tips on How to Make the Morning Routine Easier for Families with Teenagers with Autism | Learning for a Purpose
#1 does no good if your child is in school. The majority of schools start at or before most doctors’ offices open. So unless I want my daughter who is already behind to miss more school, I can do afternoons only.
And to add one more – look for doctors who may have weekend appointments. Most of my daughter’s doctors have one weekend open a month, even if it’s only 8-12. So we can hit an 8 AM appointment and still have the rest of the day left.
Full Spectrum Mama says
Just having mild nervous breakdown here over this exact subject – back-to-school time is SO HECTIC. Add in special needs “stuff” (IEP meetings, appointments for therapies, etc.) and it’s almost a recipe for disaster…
Your tips are genuinely helpful, and probably learned the hard way 😉 – thanks!!
Full Spectrum Mama