Guest post from Sonia, a single mum to a 10 year old with cerebral palsy. She’s started a blog for families of children with additional support needs.
Victoria Beckham talked about the difficulties of being a working mum and though we’ve nothing else in common, I can empathise with her on that.
My bright, articulate, humorous daughter has cerebral palsy and needs help to sit, stand, walk and with all aspects of her personal care.
I’m a single mum and really had no experience or expectation of disability before my daughter was born so not working was never on my radar. Here are some of the things that have helped me to be a working mum:
A supportive workplace
I changed career four years ago and now work full time as a teacher. During term time is a full time job but the school holidays help make it manageable.
From day one in my current job, I have been upfront and open about the difficulties of being a parent of a child with disabilities. I don’t believe I get treated any differently from another employee who has children but I think I am more conscious of my different needs.
There are some things that just can’t be arranged outside school hours. The big one being school review meetings. Yes I still feel awkward asking for the time, but my workplace are very supportive and I’m never in any doubt that the time will be allowed.
To be honest, without our nanny, I couldn’t work at all.
Having a nanny means that I can ensure specific things get done. Yes she is able to work through a weekly physio programme and attend appointments and home visits for equipment, support clothing measurement and the like. But as a nanny rather than a care assistant, she is able to support the social side of childhood, creating opportunity to cement the friendships my daughter makes.
I got my nanny through and agency and she’s been with us for seven years. We’ve been able to do all the moving and handling training and assessment on the job as my daughter’s needs changed. I also ensure that she is invited to all of the therapy and review meetings as when working, she is effectively me.
If you have a child with additional needs then you will have your own long list of therapists, specialists and consultants that are involved in the care of your child. When writing my blog, I started to make a list of everyone we see and I realised just how challenging trying to juggle them all could be.
I cope in two ways. Firstly I’ve made sure they all know my working arrangements and secondly I write things down.
All the therapists know and understand the situation. So they are happy to communicate by e-mail and will always offer home appointments at the end of the day and start blocks of treatment during school holidays. This runs like clockwork to be honest.
Consultants again once the situation is accepted, recognise that we can’t come every three months to a Monday morning clinic. Again this is currently running really smoothly to the extent that when an appointment was rescheduled, they specifically only offered dates in the school holidays.
Tracking and planning
You can’t keep all the dates and information in your head, or at least I can’t.
I have a smartphone to deal with e-mails as they come in and a Filofax for everything else. The Filofax is used for appointments, therapy tracking, recording concerns between appointments and creating agendas and tracking actions from meetings/appointments. It’s always there for the nanny to see and use too.
Read Sonia’s blog, All Born In. If you’re a working parent, what things have helped you?