Family Fund provided a grant for a day out for Marie Crutchley, 37, a mum of two from Staffordshire, whose 12-year-old son Ethan has Spina Bifida, Autism, ADHD and significant learning disabilities.
The family are on a low income, with Ethan’s dad Mark, 47, leaving work in order to care for his son full time, while Marie juggles being a mum and a midwife.
Marie said: “We only manage 3-4 days out a year and cost is the single biggest reason for that.
“We’ve had a pretty tough year and Ethan’s condition can make things hard for my younger son, Sam, at times as he has a lot to put up with, so a day out is a really important treat for him as well.”
The family have had to adjust to life as a one income family and every penny is accounted for.
Days out are hard for disabled children like Ethan, with the impact of new places, noisy crowds and big queues making the whole event potentially stressful and upsetting.
One of the worst episodes the family experienced was at a fireworks display when a man swore at Ethan because he was making noises and jumping around, Marie described it as ‘devastating’.
However, speaking about a recent trip to a theme park the family were able to take,
Marie said: “With a bit of support, Ethan managed to go on about six or seven rides, including with his brother, which was amazing. My husband was watching the three of us on a teacup type ride, and he said we were all laughing our heads off.
“When we got home from the theme park, bearing in mind Ethan was too nervous to even get in the car that morning, he said ‘that was a really good day.’ That just means everything to me.”
The story comes amid new research that has found quality family time is on the wane due to hectic work schedules, endless after school clubs – and a lack of money.
Research revealed the majority of mums and dads yearn for more opportunities to relax and bond with their children.
But many are lucky to squeeze in one day a month to escape the rigours of modern life, and everything that comes with it.
The poll of 2,000 parents found the top reasons for missing out on family trips are the costs and the lack of free time.
Over two thirds admitted they wish their family went on more day trips together as 81 per cent believe breaks and leisure time is important for parents and children.
The research was conducted by Family Fund, a UK charity providing grants for families on low incomes raising disabled or seriously ill children and young people, which provided over 25,000 families with grants for much-needed breaks and days out last year.
CEO Cheryl Ward said: “This research shows many families are struggling to find time together and how things such as work and accessibility of places are getting in the way of day trips.
“Parents want their children to enjoy days out and create memorable moments, with, four in five agreeing that family days out greatly improve their children’s happiness, but 7 in 10 are struggling with the costs, citing it as the top factor in their decision making process.”
It also emerged a further four in 10 believe having more than one child impacts the amount of outings, as it’s more stressful and half of parents find it more difficult to decide on something suitable for all ages.
Additionally, almost half of parents believe leisure time and breaks are important for their child’s development and one third see it as an opportunity to get away from chores such as homework and housework.
On average a day trip for the whole family costs £66.63, but one in 10 found it can result in an outgoing of £100.
In order to factor in aspects including costs and the weather, over one third said they plan ahead for days out.
The optimum time to begin preparing for an outing was found to be six days prior to it and almost half do this because they need to find a time everyone is free.
Parents’ general feelings around family day trips were revealed as ‘happy’ and ‘pleased’ and one quarter find them relaxing.
Over half of kids similarly were found to be ‘excited’, as well as thrilled and enthusiastic.
A further two thirds said they want their kids to have more memorable days out and 42 per cent see them as a way to get away from chores.
When they do get round to taking the clan out, 56 per cent choose to go to the beach while 44 per cent opt for the countryside.
And one third would entertain the children at a theme park or animal park.
Over half of those polled via OnePoll believe previous generations had more time for family day trips proving how modern life gets on top of parents.
Ward added: “As a charity that provides grants for things like day trips to families with disabled children on low incomes, we know how important a day out can be and we’re receiving more requests for support for breaks and days out than anything else.
“There’s a whole extra layer of planning for children with complex needs, such as showing an autistic child pictures of where they’re going days in advance so they can prepare for being somewhere new, or researching a wheelchair-accessible venue with changing facilities for an older child who needs them.
“Given the fact it’s around three times more expensive to raise a disabled child compared with other children, we’re concerned that families on low incomes are really missing out.
“All families deserve a break and to see their children enjoying themselves – but just one day out a month feels like precious little time to unwind, reconnect and have fun.”