Coping With Siblings Doing Exams – By Dolores

As your child grows up, the dynamics in the household also change.  Other siblings at different times in their life need more or less of your attention as well and it can become challenging.

Let’s take my home. I have had twins doing their leaving cert. Now, Sean and Kate need time to study, and they need peace and quiet as nerves can be on edge. David due to no fault of his own with his hearing loss is quite loud and that can be challenging for the twins. David can also be demanding, but I do my best to work around it. I try to make life as easy as I can for everyone in the family.

The main strategy I used was to sit down and talk to my twins separately and ask them what they needed. I tried my best to listen to them and not interrupt with what I “thought” they needed.

The plan we came up with was they needed David to give them more space for a few hours each night. I didn’t take any offence in this as I know they have so much on their mind and the pressure of exams. So now they both have about 40 minutes with him when he comes in from his day service, and they both have different things to do with him for that time and then it’s my turn.

The moment, after dinner I spend most of my time with David either watching TV or talking to him in his room so that he is not looking for Sean and Kate’s attention.

Why does this work for me? David is quite happy talking to me about his day, he loves to phone and texts lots of people. He likes showing me the replies and talking about any phone conversation he had in his day. Some nights we go for a drive or go to my sisters for a few hours, this leaves time for Sean and Kate to study on their own. You really don’t have much “me time”, but you have to prioritise, and it’s only for a few months.

It’s structured and it works.

Other suggestions I have is, After School Study, it costs a little bit, but so worth it. You can also book Saturdays or Sundays in a study-hub if they want to study, you can pay for this by the hour so it can be very flexible.

Ask for help

I have great support from the Irish Wheelchair Association who have given David extra hours to let my twins study and to give me time to chill out, it’s greatly appreciated. I find that if you explain a situation to organisations like that, they are more than happy to help if they can. Respite is another option if available.

One last thing that has worked so well for me was booking a holiday for David and I a few weeks before the exams. David has spent so much time on the internet researching things, reading up on our hotel, and checking out different restaurants. It has brought great excitement and the real reason I did it was I know Kate and Sean will have the house to themselves and appreciate the time of quite to study. (Of course, I have family and friends checking in with them)

I always remind myself that I am a parent to all my children because at times I forget and get so caught up in David’s challenges that I need at time to really focus on my twins. This is what is working for me any other tips or suggestions let me know.