Jenny Lumley: “Having a strong support network is key”

After successfully raising her children and establishing herself in her chosen career, Jenny Lumley, Payroll Manager, is now experiencing a new chapter—caring for her aging parents. Here, she gives us insight into how she makes it work and the lessons she has learned along the way.

Who is in your family? My husband Terry who I married in 2014; Sarah (daughter) and Luke (Sarah’s husband); Bobby (son), Shelly (Bobby’s fiancé), and Bronte (granddaughter, ten months old); Jeannette (my mum) and Ron (stepfather), and our dog Koko.

Current role:  Payroll Manager

The greatest challenge of my career2019 was a big year for my family. My daughter, Sarah, got married to Luke, which was very exciting, and my first granddaughter, Bronte, was born. My stepfather, Ron, was also diagnosed with dementia, and my mum’s mobility with Parkinson’s disease deteriorated rapidly as well. When COVID-19 appeared, we were in the middle of trying to determine the next steps for Mum and Ron’s care which has been a unique challenge to overcome. I found I just had to get up and keep going. My family has a very close relationship which, I think, helped.   

I spent a lot of time talking with their doctors and the hospital. They were able to put me in touch with social workers who assisted in providing information, as we were transitioning them from living in their own home to moving into a residential care facility. However, there were still gaps in information, and I found finding people who had been through the same thing was beneficial. A few of my colleagues had been through similar situations, and they gave me a lot of tips and helped me find the right resources. Having a strong support network is key.

The best thing I’m working on right now is being close to my family both at home and work. I have worked in payroll for 30 years but joined the organisation that I work for ten years ago when my kids were 15 and 13. I was part time when my kids were younger, and then eventually it evolved into a full-time role when they grew up. My husband, Terry, and daughter, Sarah, both work here, too. 

My daily routine iswhen I get up, I either walk the dog or do a barre class online. Now that I’m working from home, I usually walk the dog at lunchtime. My workday changes depending on whether it’s pay week, or end of month. In the evening, I speak to the kids and Mum on the phone and usually get a FaceTime call from Bronte. I enjoy relaxing with Terry and watching a Netflix show. We’re currently watching Brothers and Sisters

I handle tough days by finding those people who are caring, understanding, positive, and helpful. The support of friends and family is really important.  

The support and benefits at work I love most are… the flexibility to work from home and adjust my hours when needed. My employer has been understanding over the years around my responsibilities to my kids, and more recently, my parents. 

I recharge by… taking some time out and walking Koko.

I am grateful formy kids. I always feel very proud of who they are and how they have approached life. I’m also very excited to be a grandparent to Bronte.

I feel guilty when… When my parents first moved to their new home, I felt I had to visit them every day, and my stepbrother reminded me that I didn’t need to feel guilty if I couldn’t keep up the frequency of visits.

It was an upsetting process for them as they didn’t want to move initially, and they also needed to sell their house. It was also upsetting for me, but once I shared that with them, and they could see the empathy I felt, they appeared more accepting of their situation. Now that they have settled into their new home, I feel more comfortable.

Working caregivers are… selfless. You have to be there for your loved one, but you also need to be kind to and take care of yourself.

The best parenting advice I’ve received… is to keep communicating, always. Be open and honest with your kids and encourage them to do the same. I’ve actively focused on this with my kids, and now they call me about anything. Both still call me on a daily basis!

Discover more Real Stories from our Circle In community HERE.

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