Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Work/Life Balance for Family Caregivers

It’s back-to-school, and for some lucky folks who get the summer off, back to work.  When you’re the parent of a child with special needs, it’s hard to balance work and family life.  (This includes all those school and doctor calls before or after work or during lunch hour.)  But it can be done. 

My daughter was homebound as medically fragile until almost age 6.  I wasn’t able to put her in typical daycare, or even a home daycare with 2 or 3 other children.  So I basically worked to pay a one-on-one Nanny because my child was under my primary healthcare insurance and I had to keep her covered. 

Other things I’ve done included working from home, which is especially handy because there was one year she was out of school 11 times and each time could be weeks, not days.  I’ve also waited until my husband got home from work to watch her to make up my hours.

You may want to look into non-office jobs.  I’ve worked swing or night shift (after 6) as a store manager, child care worker, home health aide, etc.

At one point to pay her therapies that weren’t covered by school or insurance I actually worked 2 full-time jobs.  I worked while she was in school, then again evenings and weekends when my husband could take care of her.  I did this 70 hour a week thing (10 hours/day all 7 days a week) for 7 years (and lived to tell the tale).  It was strange but somehow I actually spent more quality time with my daughter because I was with her 3-6p.m. and more energetic than after “regular” work hours.

Something I found extremely helpful was working for Mathematica Policy Research, which was another of those evening/weekend hour jobs.  There are many research companies that hire folks outside of the usual 9-5 hours because that’s when they can reach the most people who are working to do interviews.  I want to stress that this is legitimate research (do your homework on the Better Business Bureau website) and not selling or cold-calling.  Most people know you’re calling because you set up appointments at their convenience. 

Now I’m working one job (hooray) like typical people.  But again, I have flexible hours so it doesn’t have to be 9-5 and can still make up hours if she’s off of school for whatever reason.  NOTE:  In summer she has extended school year and also camp.

Something else families may not know is they can take unpaid time off under the federal Family Medical Leave Act.  In addition, some states like CA, NJ, and WA now have paid leave. 

The most important thing is to communicate with your boss if something changes in your family.  Can you work from home?  Can you job-share with another employee or work part time?  Are flexible hours possible?  There are many possibilities thanks to the availability of doing work by phone, email, etc.

Remain Hopeful,





Family Medical Leave Act


States that have paid family leave



WA (eff. 10/12)

1 comment:

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