As women we’re meant to be great at multitasking, according to The Telegraph whilst men have greater spatial awareness women are better at handling multiple tasks at the same time – perhaps it’s understandable then to see why 58% of women manage to care for an elderly relative and also hold down a long-term employment position. Being a carer is something many of us end up falling into automatically and it can be one of the hardest challenges in the world especially for those of us who either run a business or are in a management position and find themselves not only multitasking between sick relatives but also trying to maintain their position in the world of business.
Caring for a relative and working full-time can sometimes feel like an impossible task but one which we have no choice but to do if we want to preserve the wishes of our loved ones who prefer to remain with family. Carers UK highlight that over one million people juggle their caring roles with employment but that eventually one in five must give up work to become full-time carers. These shocking statistics highlight just how difficult it is for women wanting to balance the realities of juggling a family life with long-term employment and feed into the generalisation that it’s impossible to have it all.
Let’s Change the Status Quo
Many people declare that it’s impossible to have it all i.e. a busy work and home life. This isn’t necessarily true but it’s something that can become a reality when we are short on information about our options. One of the main reasons we become carers in the first place is because our relatives lose elements of their mobility that once allowed them to do basic tasks such as move around the house, prepare food and feed themselves. Sometimes the layout of the home means that the individual can’t get from one floor of the house to the other to reach a bedroom or the facilities – all contributing to reasons why we have had to step in and take control over their care arrangements. This doesn’t mean that we have to drop our day job, something which in the oblivion of the stresses and strains which comes from a caring role can offer social support in the form of colleagues and friends in the workplace as well as a focus beyond our front door. Staying strong in work can often mean facilitating our relatives at home, so start by discussing with an occupational therapist what adjustments can be made to our homes to give our relatives increased mobility throughout the house. The adjustments and services offered will be in line with their ability to move around the house and there are websites that we can visit to offer us advice on some of these services. Beyond occupational therapy changes, social care throughout the day is a good option – if a relative is living with you then having social carers come in and out at different times throughout the day to ensure that they are eating alright and feeling well then the burden can be halved in terms of worry. Small adjustments such as having your loved one carry a panic button with them and letting a friendly neighbour know about the situation can make the world of difference and as reported by the Carers Trust carers can be offered flexible working hours for when emergency situations arise so informing your employer of the situation can often make life much easier.
When we think about facilitating our relatives at home we can then move on to becoming more confident in workplace – suddenly we are aware that people are coming in and out of our house whilst there are adjustments allowing our relatives to move about the home freely. In the beginning we don’t always feel strong – after all we are taking a leap of faith in this collective of small changes, trusting that the ones we love will remain safe as a result. However being able to accept that there is support available both in terms of bringing people into our lives as well as introducing more problem-based solutions to our household set-up cannot only mean that our relatives health improves but it also ensures that we remain strong businesswomen no matter what life throws at us.
Laura O’Hanlon is the creator of the blogs Living Minimalist and Sweeter Business. Laura blogs daily on health and wellness as well as women in business.