Karen (mother of 3 children, daughter Ginger, 7 years, has Down syndrome): Once I was back at work, the instant relief and satisfaction was around being capable and being in an environment that I - you know it had a rhythm and a process and a procedure. And I know how it works and I can deal with it, and so that was nice, that was sort of reassuring and calming almost.
Sarah (mother of 3 children, son Jimmy, 6 years, has fragile X syndrome): A business opportunity actually came up for us, and so my husband and I both talked about, and we actually bought in to our own business. In doing that, it actually gave us a lot more flexibility. So yes, we work lots of hours, but our hours are a bit more flexible. So we work predominantly over six days, but we job share our hours, so one of us is always home with the kids, and that flexibility has been fantastic for us.
Karen: The practicalities of being at work, were around making sure I could do enough working hours, to do my job, but also make sure that I could still get to Ginger’s speech and occupational therapy and that type of stuff as well. So she still needed to go to her appointments and get her early intervention, and the groups and the mums groups and the support things that were really important as well. So it’s getting a balance, and we talk about that as parents anyway, getting the balance between you know working life and home life. The juggling can be hard. And I think if you are not running the show yourself and you are employed by somebody else and you’ve got set working hours. Then it can be difficult in terms of an appointment might come up that you know, you didn’t get much notice for. Or your child might not be well. And I know they’re challenges of every working parent, but when you’ve got a child with a disability, there are extra appointments and extra things that you have to do. So it’s - it can be really difficult to go back to work, but I highly recommend it.
Sarah: I think if you can find something that you go and do your job and then come home and you can switch off, that would be a really great mix.
Karen: I think the best tip about going back to work is, most employers if they’re smart employers, will be open to you showing them how it’s going to work. So if you want to go back to an existing job for example, but you don’t want to go in as many hours. But you can see a way that that job can be done, and you don’t necessarily need to be there, you can maybe do some from home, or you can job share. But you’ve got some sort of idea about how you can cut your working time down, but the job can get done. Go and give them a way to say yes to you. So if you can take that process away from them, and they want to keep you and they want to say yes, that’s the best advice I can give.
Sarah: Well if you can find something that will allow you go or an understanding boss, that would be really good.
Karen: If the employer you want to go back to isn’t flexible, then find one that is.
Rebecca (mother of 2 children, daughter Sarah, 8 years, has Pallister-Killian syndrome): I think for other parents looking at going back to work, the main things would be look at the wide range of supports that you have available. So there are you know family options, so sometimes I get a grandparent to come and pick up one of the girls. I have some respite a couple of nights a week between three and four, and they come to the house and they get Sarah off the bus. Which allows me to go up to Hannah’s school, or allows me to teach until the end of Hannah’s school time at her school and then bring her home. So it’s just logistics. Another night Sarah’s got afterschool care, another night Hannah gets brought home by another family to their place for a while. I’ve had times when I’ve had to call a neighbour, to make sure that they’re here to get Sarah off the bus. Because I know I’m not going to get here in time. But nurturing those relationships with your neighbours, so that they are an option to do that, is really important.
Sarah: Whether it’s school, childcare, obviously your work, you just need to have really open communications, to let them know that these things may arise.