I’m fortunate to have a career and a profession where I can work from home. Since COVID-19, I had to be more comfortable with being at my desk in my house trying to get work done.
The only problem for me is that working from home is remarkably difficult with kids, more so with a child that requires a decent level of attention and care. To be honest, this requires a lot of patience on my part.
I prefer my life to be compartmentalized. When I’m at work, I’m at work. When I’m focused on my children, I’m focused on my children.
The truth is that this type of situation doesn’t exist easily for parents of kids with disabilities. I’m always on edge that my son will have an issue at school requiring me to pick him up, or that there will be some sort of other insurance, equipment or therapy-related emergency that requires my immediate attention. As much as I want to compartmentalize, I can’t.
The same thing goes at home. When my son gets home from school, I typically have a couple more hours of work to get done. I’m concentrating on my computer while he’s loudly playing or perhaps expressing some level of mild frustration out loud.
I’m also constantly watching the clock. I know that I have a certain amount of time to get things done before dinner, bath and bedtime routines begin. Having a child with autism, we adhere strictly to those routines. Otherwise, it becomes a mess.
That’s not to say that it’s all negative. My son has climbed into my lap for several meetings. Honestly, there’s not much I can do to stop it, so I let it happen.
My co-workers know that my identity is father/caregiver first and employee second. While those identities conflict daily, I try to maintain that order of importance. Sometimes my co-workers even plan around bus pick-up times because they know I won’t be able to be there.
People say, “You can’t have it all.” That’s both true and false. Everything requires a level of sacrifice, and you aren’t given it all. You have to take things and taking them will have consequences in terms of promotions, opportunities missed and occasional deadlines being impossible to meet.
That’s when identifying your priorities comes into focus. I am a caregiver first and everything else second. As long as I’m succeeding in one area, everything else will fall into place, whatever that place might look like.
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