Yesterday I decided that my main New Year's Resolution was a bad idea. The plan was to secure a paying job after a year spent as a social welfare sponger/recipient (delete as appropriate). This resolution has not lasted very long.
I have, yet again, had to turn down interviews for jobs when I realised that I just can't manage them and earn any money, thanks to the peculiarities of the social welfare system, and lack of support for children with special needs. I am coming to the conclusion that it actually suits the Government for me to stay at home providing cheap care for my kids, and they give me a carer's allowance so I don't spoil the jobless statistics.
But I would like to work because it:
Sets a good example for the kids
Keeps my contacts fresh and my skills up-to-date
Can be fun
Saves the Government some money
May help save the Irish economy through regular expenditure on childcare, new suits, bags, shoes, office presents, diesel and last minute groceries bought at twice the price from the local 'convenience' stores.
But if I stay at home I can:
Spend more time with the children and keep them at all their activities
Chase up services for CD and work on his behaviour
Be free of worry about how Smiley (non-verbal, complex needs) is being cared for while I am at work
Enjoy a higher discretionary income and more sleep
Less stress (except during the holidays!)
More time to see family and friends, exercise, eat properly, clean the house - that's not to say I actually do it - and time to work for free for voluntary groups, lobby groups - eg PACUB - and friends.
Also I did work and pay my taxes for 25 years, and I am saving the Government up to €200,000 a year by minding two children with special needs at home.
So what do I need to get me back to work? A family-friendly employer who will pay me a reasonable and regular salary, quality affordable childcare that caters for kids with special needs, and services for my son to be organised and co-ordinated by the Government Departments that are supposed to do it.
Is that too much to ask?
Well no! In 2008 I had most of that (CD had not then been diagnosed). I was well paid for the 25 hour week that I worked and, before it was taken over by a major service provider, Smiley's school offered a holiday activity programme, free afterschool childcare and respite when I needed it, and the therapists suggested and organised equipment and services for her (they still do this but are now hampered by bureaucracy).
So it can be done!