Being a mum is often a thankless task, the hours aren’t great and the pay non existent. You can’t have a days off and even if you are away from said child they will get your attention through facetime, texts, phone calls (I’m sure that’s not just mine). The days are long and the nights can be even longer when they don’t sleep or feel unwell. For some mums paid work might be a release where you can talk to others whilst doing the daily grind. For stay at home mums children’s playgroups and activities may keep you going from the monotony of childcare.
But just imagine that you don’t even have that respite. That your days are often spent in isolation, that you are financially crippled by caring and that you are tired, bone achingly tired and you know there is no respite coming.
That is the heartbreaking reality for 7 million unpaid carers in the UK. Those carers include children as young as my five year old. So whilst Erin’s only responsibility was choosing her breakfast cereal consider those already caring, their childhoods tainted by caring duties. Many of these children do not even know they are carers, but we should see that they are and help give them and their families some support. In my job as a teacher I met many young people who were carers, they were juggling school with family responsibility and often very few people knew.
I was thrust into the role of carer when Erin was diagnosed with DDH. Her countless trips to hospital, theatre and months spent in a spica cast meant that I had to take an unpaid year off work. I walked out the door knowing that everything was about to change. The treatment was tough both physically and emotionally. Erin could not walk and going out anywhere was fraught with complications. It was often easier to stay indoors.
I developed back ache myself from the physical toll looking after a disabled child took on my body. There were nights that Erin could not sleep and I would find myself sitting on the sofa with her wrapped in blankets whilst I watched the hands of the clock turn. I was not there on my son’s birthday, instead I was on a hospital ward waiting to hear that Erin had come out of surgery. My other children suffered, they missed out. Holidays were missed both because of financial and practical constraints. It was year I was glad to see the back off and I know that I was lucky. For many there is no end in sight, the caring duties are ongoing and that is why I want to do something.
If you care maybe you could host Britains best breakfast. If you look around you, you will probably see a carer. The carer maybe working and looking after his wife with cancer, the carer maybe looking after elderly parents who have dementia, a child maybe supporting their parent through mental health, or the carer maybe caring for their disabled child. Carers wear suits, office clothes or maybe at home. The thing they have in common is that they are propping up society by silently getting on with caring. These unsung people need to know they are valued, need to know we care about them.
Last week I stumbled into a twitter chat with Carers Trust and Tots 100 and have been in touch with The Carers Trust since. I am now going to be a bit of a digital ambassador for them. I want to help get the word out and I want to use my bit of the internet for good. Since leaving teaching I have felt that sometimes my life is a bit superficial and that I have lost some of my passion for helping others. This week I am really pleased to use my blog for good. I already work closely with DDH charities and communities but now will be doing a little more for Carers Trust too.