You’re in a meeting at work when you get the call. Your kid is having another melt-down at school and has to be picked up pronto. Sound familiar?
If you have a hard time juggling work and special needs parenting, studies show you’re not alone. Alice Home, Professor Emeritus in the school of Social Work at the University of Ottawa studied 197 employed moms of kids with ADHD (many had additional disabilities such as autism). She found that 40 percent of these moms had switched jobs, reduced hours or refused promotions because of their intense parenting responsibilities.
Often, joining the workforce at all is impossible. Recently, 326 moms of kids with autism were surveyed in a study at Washington State University. Nearly three out of five of these moms had not taken a job because of their child’s special needs.
Whether you’re in the workforce or not, there are ways to keep your work skills and sanity strong. As the mom of two (now adult) children with ADHD, Home has both personal and professional expertise. We asked her for advice about combining paid work and special needs parenting.
Ways moms of kids with special needs can stay in the paid workforce:
Ways employed moms can juggle paid work and special needs parenting:
Tips for moms who are not in the workforce but want to stay employable:
Advice for moms transitioning back into the workplace:
Why moms of kids with special needs benefit from working: Paid work prevents women from losing themselves. It helps them realize parts of their identity outside of being a “special-needs mom.” Lots of women do this for mental health reasons — to have some balance in their lives.
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