Balancing a Career and Parenting a Child with Special Needs
by Regi Publico
Mothers and fathers will tell you that parenting is one of their greatest joys in life. But parenting, with its twists and turns, is both challenging and rewarding. This rings true for parents of children with special needs. Finding out that their kid is a child with special needs can be overwhelming for any parent. You can go through a whole range of emotions and back. But because a parent’s love is stronger than these emotions, and somehow, you decide to stand up and stay strong for your kid and family.
You will start to plan on how to make things work—your home life, social life, and career. It may not be smooth sailing, but these tips can help you navigate how to balance being a working parent of a child with special needs.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help
It takes a village to raise a child. This African proverb serves as a wonderful reminder for parents with special needs children. Being open to accepting help and building a support system can assist to maintain the balancing act of being a good parent and having a career.
First, try to look for sources of valuable information to help you plan out how to care for your child better. Try to learn as much as you can about your child’s needs. You can consult with professionals like psychologists who can help evaluate your child for learning disabilities or specialists that can guide you through caring for kids with physical or sensory disabilities. Joining a community of families raising special needs children can also be a good way to get first-hand information and comforting support.
Honesty and openness, especially to members of the family, are important pillars in your support system. If you have other children, make sure to be open with them about their sibling’s diagnosis. Depending on their age, you can explain in terms that will make it easier for them to grasp the situation. Try to get them involved to help them learn more about their sibling with special needs, how to interact with them, and strengthen the sibling bond.
When looking for childcare options, it is best to seek help from multiple sources. The usual primary options are members of the extended family and close friends, like grandparents or aunts and uncles. Trust and familiarity are some of the main reasons why family members and friends are involved in caring for your child.
Depending on where you live, there are institutions with special needs after-school programs. These are not only facilitated by educators who may already be familiar with special needs children, but they are a good way for your child to interact with people outside their immediate family. You can also look into finding a child-care provider that is trained to work with special needs kids.
Evaluate your career options
Parenting can be a handful, and raising a child with special needs may make your current work situation difficult to maintain. If possible, try to negotiate more flexible work arrangements. More and more companies are becoming more open-minded about offering remote work options and flexible hours to their employees.
Being at home and adjusting your work hours can undoubtedly help in balancing work and parenting a child with special needs. You can manage your time better when you are not locked into a 9 to 5 schedule. Aside from being available for evaluations or doctor’s appointments, you have more time to bond with your child. You’ll be able to spend more quality time with them, make observations on their developments, and be more present in their special education journey.
When adjustments are not a feasible option with your current employer, you can consider making a career pivot. Making a career transition on top of everything may seem like a lot to take on, but it may be one of the best moves for both your child’s development and your career growth.
Get friendly with technology
Nowadays, there are apps for almost everything. You, as a parent and working professional, should learn to maximize technological developments to digitize some of the usual everyday tasks. Instead of going out, run your errands from home, such as opting for grocery delivery. Even banking can be done in the comfort of your own home. Most banks have their own apps that make managing your finances a breeze.
Download a scheduling app or use the calendar app on your phone to help manage your time and make sure you’re not missing anything. You can put anything on your calendar: work appointments, payment deadlines, family events, doctor’s appointments, and set a time for self-care (read: important).
The time you save by running errands from home can be priceless time used for childcare. And for those times that you cannot physically be with your child, you can still keep an eye on them through baby monitors and video calls.
Life, especially the life of a parent responsible for the well-being and growth of another (tiny) human, is full of hard choices. Parents of children with special needs can relate well to that. For parents trying to raise special needs children while building a career to support their family, the challenges they face may seem endless. But these challenges can be managed with a solid support system, expert help, planning, and a whole lot of love.
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