Being a young carer is an incredibly demanding and difficult thing. Sadly, due to the ill health of a parent or sibling, some young people find themselves forced into a caring role at an age when they should be concentrating on school work and enjoying themselves. People outside the family are often unaware of the burden these youngsters are carrying. So if you're in this situation, here are some tips on being a young carer
1. Talk to Your Teachers
The first tip on being a young carer is to talk to your teachers. Having home responsibilities is likely to affect your performance at school, so if teachers are aware of your situation they can take steps to help. They may be able to refer you to people who can help, such as government departments, charities and young carers' groups in your local area..
2. Local Groups
It's unfortunate that there are so many young carers, but the fact that it is quite common means that there are many local support groups. There may well be one near you, so check what is available in your area. These groups can help with many issues, from giving you advice to providing a place for young carers to meet. It can be very helpful to meet other people in the same situation and know that you are not alone.
3. Online Support
There are also tons of online support groups, which are a wonderful resource for those times when you feel very alone. Many have an online forum, where you can always find someone to chat to. Here are just a few of the online groups for young carers: youngcarers.net (UK site); youngcarers.net.au; youngcarers.ca; aacy.org (US).
4. Look after Yourself
It may seem that you have far too much on your plate to even think about having fun. But when you're caring for someone, you must take time to enjoy yourself and get away from responsibilities. If you don't, you'll get tired and unhappy. Go out with your friends, watch TV, or spend time on a hobby. It's really important to have time to enjoy yourself.
5. Seek Help
Your parents may be reluctant to let anyone know they need help. They may think that social services will decide that they aren't coping, or be embarrassed that they need help. Do encourage your parents to find out what help is available; there may be a lot of resources available.
6. Be a Child
As a young carer you have responsibilities that you shouldn't have. It can make you feel grown up before your time. So take time to be a child and enjoy your life. You might have to be very organised to find free time, when you have so much to do at home. But try to forget your responsibilities and just have fun.
7. Be Proud of Yourself
Finally, be proud of yourself. You may think you're doing nothing special, but there are many adults who couldn't do what you do. You're looking after your family and helping your parents. You're a strong person and you're doing really well to cope.
Kids really shouldn't have to be carers, but since it's not an ideal world many do find themselves in that situation. It's really important to ask for help and make sure that teachers and other family members know how much you have to do. People can't help if they don't know. Do you know any young carers?