I already have THE most demanding job on the planet, it also happens to be THE BEST job! I'm a special needs mum, 24 hours a day, every day. I love being a parent but the mum I have become wasn't the one I thought I was going to be. That's OK, but it does take some adjustment.
Recently I have had itchy feet. This happens every now and again. I knew it was creeping up as I found myself looking for jobs online. I need more than being mum. My bank absolutely needs more and my sanity definitely does.
I spend ages looking online at "job porn". Jobs that look amazing, that I could do in a previous life but not now. Because now I am mum. Not just any mum, I am a special needs mum.
Being a special needs mum makes finding work so much harder, yet the prospect of a job more appealing than you would think imaginable - time off (from being mum), yay!
I asked a group of special needs parents what their employment status was and if this was it for me. Have my days of being able to have a job and being able to financially contribute to my family gone forever? Is all my experience, my skills and my expertise now insignificant? I take comfort that they understood and many were in the very same position as me. Some were fortunate enough to have flexible employers, others had a tight support network to help with childcare. Many had to give up their career to care for their child(ren) as their additional needs are too significant to continue their much loved roles.
I totally understand why employers might not relish the thought of employing a special needs parent - take my circumstances for example; I have two children, one who needs frequent hospital appointments (for now at least) and one who is in nursery but will be starting school next September. He will be out of nursery from end of June and I don't imagine he will start school on an immediate full timetable. There are no breakfast or afternoon clubs that cater for him so I will need to work around his school day (and travelling just a mile or two around here can take in excess of 30 mins). Then there's the holidays - he wont be able to go in a normal Play Scheme or to a childminder. I might hit lucky and get a week with one of the council run special needs schemes, so that will just leave twelve weeks I can't work (realistically eight once taken annual leave). I mean, I can work but not normal hours. Perhaps meeting me halfway with flexible hours would be a solution.
I get it.
But before you dismiss me based on my circumstances, have you considered the positives of employing a special needs parent?
✔ It might be a job to others but for us, it's a lifeline. Sanity. You will get us for 100% of your time. We work to a tight schedule and need to leave on time so will work like a ninja to make sure everything is completed on time. No time for office gossip, there's work to be done! Our productivity levels will make you question what your full time staff do all day!
✔ Managing schedules of special needs kids is not for the faint hearted, a colour coded diary and a magnificent filing system can vouch for this. We can multitask and flit from one thing to the next with expert precision.
✔ Adulting never felt so good and we will form a fierce loyalty with you and the company. We are SO happy about being at work! It is our time off from the emotional demands of being a special needs parent. We see work as a privilege not a chore.
✔ We spend our lives honing our communication skills. On the phone, email, face to face. We fight battles that we shouldn't need to and we get results. Always.
✔ Special needs parents are positive thinkers. We have amazing perspective and we will challenge your company culture in a massively beneficial way.
The list really is much bigger than this. If you ever get the opporuntity to have a special needs parent on your team, do it! You won't regret it!
Go to www.facebook.com/alifelessordinarywithautism to follow our journey.