Welcome back to another Mobility Monday! I mentioned last week that I’d expand on our home situation a little, as we’re going through quite a few big changes right now.
For a while now, my overall health and independence has been declining slowly. Our wonderful friends and family raised funds to help us buy a new wheelchair to help me (check out my snazzy ‘chair over at Lith-Tech Mobility, along with a host of other state of the art mobility aids). Ray, my husband, has been caring for me for a good few years now and that fact made up a considerable amount of our decision for us to have him try a move into part-time hours at work. This worked well for a while, especially through the hard months of hospital appointment after hospital appointment for both myself and our boys. Although Ray cares for the qualifying amount of time per day, he’s not entitled to claim carer’s allowance (a payment for people caring for someone with disabilities for more than 35 hours a week) due to his working income.
As time passed, things got more tough at home with juggling my care needs, even with Ray working the new part-time hours. We’re married, we’re a family unit – caring comes naturally in those situations of course but living a life where both adults have chronic illness (myself having complex and impacting issues), both kids having increased medical needs with a bazillion appointments, home educating and keeping up with a job was beginning to drain us all. There’s a big difference between loving your partner, spending time with them and looking after them mutually to being cared for in a medical capacity. The two interlock of course because of our relationship but they are definitely separate things too.
Let’s re-wind a little. It was July and we were four months into lock down. Ray had been working from home the whole time and we as a family had been shielding as much as we could. We’d been less ill due to less socialising, we had fewer injuries because of barely leaving the house and of course no appointments and home ed meet ups. Life released a little pressure off of the chokehold it had on us over the past few years and it felt so good. Having Ray home made a huge difference to our quality of life. He was still working three full days remotely but knowing if/when something went wrong he was there to help was such a relief.
Then came the video call. “Your job is at risk.”
Mass redundancy. Handovers. Horrible working conditions. So much stress.
We were half-expecting it due to rumours buzzing around but having the information that your job is classed as ‘at risk’ and then subsequently scheduled for termination in a few short months over a company-wide video call was pretty intense. I won’t go into the details here but we had a lot of long conversations about what was going to be best for Ray, best for me and best for our family moving forward. We knew it’d be almost impossible to find a part-time job within walking distance for Ray. Carving out a new start at a new job in a new place whilst caring for your wife at home, after being made redundant from a job you’d done for 16 years felt totally alien and terrifying.
When you’re beginning to feel like you’re looking out at a tsunami heading straight for you and everything you hold dear, big decisions have to be made.
We had actually been toying with the idea for months about Ray becoming my official, full-time carer. A few family members and friends had also previously offered the suggestion to us, knowing how much we were struggling but not knowing about the proposed redundancy. It’s a big step to take, leaving behind the traditional workplace for what can be a hard and unrewarding ‘job’ at times. Money is obviously a big issue, too. Again, I won’t go into details here but we’ve made sure we will be able to manage financially if we are careful. Things will be very finely balanced, we won’t be having holidays or takeaways and we’ve given up our Motability car. It will be a significantly different way of life to what we’ve been used money-wise but the biggest change will be for our health.
Over the past few years, we’ve been open to living life a different way. Our decisions have taken us off of traditional paths and although things have been hard at times, they have worked wonderfully for our physical and mental health collectively. We are hoping that this decision will too. Ray will be focusing on writing, a passion he’s always wanted to follow and I will be continuing with my art. We’ll both be able to be present in Sullivan’s home education. Once we find our new normal (that seems to be a theme of my blogs recently!) and hopefully a new, more accessible home we may look into self-employment. Carers are actually allowed to earn a small amount per week whist still claiming carer’s allowance.
We both want to pave our own way for our family and we need to do things differently. As with home education, we’ll have people who think we’re making the wrong decision or crazy for reducing our income so much/changing our lifestyle like this willingly. Hopefully, just as home education has proved, things will turn out for the best for our little family.
Have you ever made any big life changes that were considered unusual? Let me know below!