4. Caring for unwell family & friends

Having a demanding job and caring for loved ones can introduce a lot of pressure and stress. It can be really difficult to continue to put in the long hours, planning lessons, marking work and classroom preparation when you are providing care and support to loved ones.

Juggling work and caring for a loved one

Teaching in itself is a demanding role that requires a lot of time planning and preparation. And while work can also provide you with much needed social interaction when you’re a carer, you may find it helpful to take some time off or ask if you can work flexibly. Check your employment rights as a carer so you are aware of what you are able to do and not do. Do let your employer if you are caring for a loved one for a long period of time so they are able to understand your situation. They may be able to offer you much needed support too.

Short term care

If you are providing short term care because one of your children is poorly, or a family member needs some short term support for example, it may be possible to speak to your school and ask for some necessary time off. You may need to explore taking parental leave. If taking time off is not an option, you may want to ask family members or friends if they can help you out with the care. If you have little or no support network, speak to the school and explain the situation so they can hopefully find cover for your class. It is important to make your requests in writing and find out if the school has a policy on this.

Long term care

Providing long term care is something that often needs careful planning and flexibility. There could be a number of reasons for providing this type of care, whether it is a loved one or a child with a disability or long-term illness, or a parent who requires long-term care. It is important to speak to other family members and try to plan a care programme whereby everyone is involved and contributing time and care. If this is something that is not possible, or there is little or no support network, find out if you can bring registered carers in to give you some respite. It might help to speak to your local NHS to find out if you can get funding and support and you can find out more information here.

How you may be feeling

Whether the care you are providing is long term, or it is something that has been unexpected, you are likely to experience a rollercoaster of emotions including fear, feeling overwhelmed, anger, resentment, anxious and wanting to protect the individual who needs your care. These feelings are very natural under the circumstances. You may also notice that the care giving may be impacting on other relationships in your family life. It may be that the other children may be feeling they are not getting as much attention, or perhaps it is your partner. It is important to explain the demands that are upon you and that you are doing your best to try and juggle everything. However, if you can, perhaps have some set quality time with your children or partner and do something that you both enjoy. It may just be a coffee at the café or even cooking and eating together.

Taking time out for yourself

It is important to try and find time for yourself as much as possible. This might be incredibly difficult, but for your emotional health and wellbeing, having space and time to recharge your batteries is important. It can help you focus on the things you need to do and give you some necessary respite. It may be meeting friends for a coffee or perhaps taking up meditation or yoga. This can help you enormously.

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