I have been reading lots about the National Carers Strategy, in particular the area’s that focus on paid employment opportunities for carers.
As a single parent carer, I know the struggles that come with caring and the challenges to be involved in paid employment.
My son Billy was born almost 11 years ago with multiple disabilities. I was working in a corporate environment, earning great money and hoping to go back to work after the birth of my first child.
Well, what a shock to the system.
I was unaware the baby I was carrying, was going to be born with many challenges. Thrown into the deep end, slapped across the face, catapulted into a new world, I didn’t ask for or want.
The magnitude of what was ahead was almost too much to bear. It took a long time for me to find my way. I don’t mean find my way as a carer for my son. Find a way to care for my son, and since then daughter, alone, while caring for me.
Caring for me meant having the opportunity to be me, to be mum and to be carer but caring has a cruel twist of isolation, fatigue and fears.
A few years ago I found myself constantly down and unable to shake the feelings of a bleak future, I wrote down all the things I needed to feel positive and followed that with actions to get my needs met.
It looked something like this.
More support. More me time. More life. More opportunities to plan for Billy’s future care after I’ve passed away.
Hmm, sound familiar?
To get more support I had to look outside of my small family/friends support network. Actually calling it a network was probably giving it too much credibility as the definition of a support network goes something like, “family and friends who support carers in the caring role by providing concrete (home duties, respite etc) and emotional support.”
We all know that getting that support can be difficult. Not because family and friends don’t want to help but rather because they also have their own lives to manage and honestly many just don’t get it. So looking for alternatives was the solution.
Caring is money.
Yep, pretty much all of the things on my “needs” list were very difficult to get without a good amount of money coming in.
Why? Because getting access to formal support was difficult due to waiting lists, eligibility etc,
Looking for alternatives taught me lots. It helped reduce my stress and learn how to take constructive actions versus blowing my stack because I needed a break and couldn’t get one from my loved ones.
Knowing what I wanted and having a plan to get my needs met, brought me to the same conclusion for each item I had listed, more money.
Making the best out of your situation has been the foundation for my success.
Wouldn’t it be great if I had the money to pay for a formal carer. That formal carer would allow me to have support in my caring role, allow me to have time for me and would make it a whole heap easier to live a little with my kiddies. Imagine having a right-hand man with me on an outing with both my children!
There was a way I could have all my, “wouldn’t it be greats” and it involved paid work.
As a single parent, going out of the home to participate in paid employment was not an option. Again the alternative thinking had to come out and so I started my journey to build a home-based business. It has really proved to be the perfect solution to have “my needs” met.
Hold up, don’t start choosing your business name just yet!
It isn’t easy to build a home-based business, care for your special needs child and be a mum/homemaker, friend and loving daughter, sister, brother etc all at the same time. In fact, it’s hard, hard work.
Working from home isn’t for everyone. It requires organisational skills, time management, discipline and occasionally pisses people (family and friends), off. It is the cause of intense fatigue, stress and sometimes strained relationships.
Is it worth it?
Anything that makes a substantial difference in your life requires hard work.
Once you get through the beginning stages of your start-up, once you start to see results, you will find things falling into place, and your needs being met.
I started my business alone. I didn’t have access to a team or manager or a go-to person to ask for help. After some time of working hard with no direction and no results, I made the decision to save money, not much at that, in order to eventually invest in a mentor.
That investment by far was a total game changer for me, my business and my life.
Arhhhh, finally I was taught exactly what I needed to know to build a successful business and my dream life. I learnt the shortcuts, the must haves, the skills that I lacked to build an online business.
Since then, I found many other carers with exactly the same “needs” list who were, or are in the exact same position as I was.
I wanted to yell out to these carers. I wanted to save them the time, stress, and the tears I knew so well, by teaching them exactly what I had learnt. So I did.
I now mentor carers who want to start home-based businesses. I also offer carers group training programs to develop their skills in online business.
My journey has given me a couple of things that were not on my original “needs” list. I have now added help others, along with look after my own emotional health. You may be wondering how being busy running a business from home, caring, being a mum, homemaker and helping others has improved my emotional health.
It is amazing how paid employment can change your whole outlook. Instead of sitting around focussed on my child’s challenges and bleak future, my children and I now face those challenges with an attitude or belief that anything is possible with determination and a compelling reason to succeed.
That is why every carer should have the opportunity to participate in paid employment whether employed by a business or building their own. It brings social opportunity, financial opportunity and positive guidance for my children who will more than likely develop the skills to never give up!