Spending time early on to consider potential adjustments to home life / work life balance can make a real difference.

• If you work, it is helpful to understand your rights to request adjustments to your working hours or to take parental leave. You may need to take time off regularly to attend appointments - for your child, or for family therapy. It is sometimes necessary to stop working for a while to support your loved one. Do speak to your manager but also, if your employer has a Human Resources Department, then speak to a member of that team for an impartial discussion of the options available to you. You may be able to flex your working hours, or reduce your days. Knowing your options can help reduce stress. If you are able to negotiate this with your employer with reasonable notice (they will appreciate having time to put cover in place) it can be a great relief to know your job is held for you to go back to.   
• Explore possible eligibility for benefits or allowances such as Disability Living Allowance. Your local Citizens Advice Bureau may be able to help determine eligibility and provide guidance on preparing an application.
• Planning for short breaks and holidays – It is important to have things to look forward to. It can be possible to get away abroad even if you need to take liquid nutritional supplements with you. Self catering allows plenty of scope to prepare food the way it is best tolerated, but ‘all inclusive’ can also work and give parents a welcome rest. 

Other areas to consider include the following:

• As a family, agree a strategy for providing support at mealtimes
• Make time to do things together as a family, or in smaller groups. Maybe sit down together to play a board game, or a jigsaw puzzle.
• Acknowledge the impact on other family members and find ways to help each other to cope.
• Maintaining / improving listening skills and communications within the family. Find time to listen to each other. Going for a walk together is very effective - even if you start off walking in silence.
• Reduce stressors – this includes learning to say no. 
• Maybe postpone major ‘home improvement’ projects if these would increase stress.

Useful Links:

Parental Leave: and
Carers Allowance Application Process: See next page on Welfare Benefits.   

Listening and Communication Skills: If you are a member of Essex Library services, you can access free courses on listening skills plus many other subjects -