Most children look forward to the Christmas holidays as a time for fun and families. But for some young carers – children who provide care for someone in their family who is ill or disabled – the Christmas holidays are a mixed blessing.
Dani* is one such young carer who I worked with as part of recent research. She is 14 and cares for her mum who has Multiple Sclerosis and depression. Dani does most of the cooking and cleaning in the house as well as shopping and managing the family finances.
She also spends time with her mum trying to keep her spirits up and making sure she takes her medication. This means Dani has little, if any, time for socialising. Her mother’s condition also means Dani is sometimes too worried about leaving her mum at home alone to go out with friends, even though her mum would like her to.
Christmas is going to be both good and bad for Dani and her mum. It means Dani spends time with her mum at home and doesn’t have to worry about her as much because they are together. But it also means she has to do a lot more around the house when her mum is too ill to do it, such as cooking, wrapping presents and making sure Christmas is a happy time for them both.
For children like Dani, the Christmas holidays can be an emotional time and bring extra challenges. It’s particularly hard if they are having to provide care unrecognised and unsupported, when other family members or friends are not able or available to help, or support services are missing.
This can make caring a lonely and isolating experience for some children. Many of them also have to provide the sort of care we would normally associate with an adult – toileting and bathing a loved one, administering medication, cooking and cleaning, as well as having to look after younger siblings.
Source: Christmas can be isolating for young carers – they need time to be children : The Conversation