James is a father from Buckinghamshire with eight-year-old twins called Thomas and Alice and a baby called India. Both twins have dystonic quadriplegic Cerebral Palsy.
As a full-time PR consultant he leaves the house at 6am and returns at 8pm, so his working hours are long and tiring. But when he gets home, his role as a full-time carer and dad kicks in, and it often includes broken nights - through the week and caring for his twins at the weekend.
Combining work and caring
“Holding down a demanding job and being a carer can be a stretch at times. Breaks are few and far between. I’m lucky enough to have a very understanding team of colleagues, but I do worry for Dads who get held back in their careers because their employers feel they already have enough on their plate. People are sometimes denied opportunities to move up the ladder.”
Furthermore, James is often faced with the assumption that because he works, his wife therefore does all the caring.
“People often assume it’s the female partner who does all the looking after and don’t realise that even with full-time employment to contend with, Dads need to be heavily involved too. With disabled twins it’s man-to-man marking so there’s nowhere to hide!”
With the demands of work combined with the additional needs of his children, very little time is left for James and his wife to be together as a couple.
Building a strong bond
He says, “We have very little time to be together on our own and the pressures of caring for our twins and sleeplessness do take their toll. However, it has had a positive effect too - in building a strong bond through the difficult times we face.”
James would like to see more support for Dads –both in terms of out of working day appointments and extra support services.
“All support is during the working day so it’s not accessible for working dads. Asking for support as a father can be seen to be a weakness and a sign that we are not coping. There isn’t enough support or help available to us – and this is essential so that we can provide the best possible care when looking after our loved ones.”