I have published this before, but it still a question I struggle with daily.
Am I a stay at home mum or a parent carer?
Where does it differ? When does one move on to the other?
It is complicated and hard to understand.
I am a stay at home Mum.
I am a parent Carer.
It is Carers Week here in the UK.
A week dedicated to raising awareness of caring and the challenges carers face.
A carer is anyone who cares, unpaid, for a friend or family member who due to illness, disability, a mental health problem or an addiction cannot cope without their support.
A parent carer is a person aged 18 or over who provides or intends to provide care for a disabled child for whom the person has parental responsibility.
(Definition provided by Working Together).
Do I see myself as a parent carer?
I am a parent. I see myself as a Mum looking after my child.
I am a Mum.
Am I a carer?
Yes, caring for my child.
A parent carer?
Like all parents?
You can see how it is difficult to use the label.
I claim Carers Allowance as I am unable to work due to my childs needs.
I am entitled because I care for my disabled child for at least 35 hours a week.
I claim £66.15 a week, ( 39p per hour) to care for my own child….
…because I am a Carer.
It feels wrong no matter how I explain it.
I am a Carer. A parent carer.
My girl has disabilities.
I am not recognised as a Carer by the public because I am her Mum…..
…because that is my role? As a Mum?
Parenting a child with additional needs is hard work.
It presents so many challenges.
Physically and mentally.
Life changes. It is life changing.
It is a constant battle to access help and services your child needs.
A constant fight that we never win.
It is a constant struggle to ensure school, family, friends provide appropriate support.
It is an endless explanation of your childs needs.
It is exhaustion as sleep deprivation through the childs broken sleep pattern, your own anxieties, sleepless nights.
It is physical pain as stress and sleep deprivation reduces immunity leaving you more at risk of illness.
It is physical pain as lifting your child, repetitive movements of washing, dressing etc, cause problems with joints and back pain.
It is headaches, migraines, nausea……physical pain caused by mental anguish.
Anxiety and stress burys itself deeper and deeper.
It is emotionally draining as you see your loved one in pain, or struggling, or having meltdowns….or all of the above.
It is emotionally draining as you hit that wall where no one understands.
It is isolating and lonely as ‘friends’ become lost, you find yourself housebound with no social life.
It is frustration as days out become limited as activities become physically or emotionally difficult to deal with.
…..it is so many things that can’t be seen.
But does it go beyond parenting?
I am, most importantly, a Mum.
But I am a parent carer as my child needs more care than ‘normal’ children of her age.
She is dependant on me.
Whilst she is physically capable of having some independance, she remains unsafe as she does not recognise the consequence of her actions.
She needs me to push her wheelchair as her fingers dislocate and her wrists are not strong enough to propel the chair herself.
The days she is able to walk she needs constant supervision due to lack of understanding of road safety and danger awareness……
….the list goes on.
I do so much for my girl because she is my daughter.
I do not see what I do as extra, I see it as being a Mum and helping my girl as any other parent would.
Ultimately I am a Mum……
….with parent carer responsibilities.