Many hands make light work Hardy's dad and I met through our jobs as English teachers in a local sixth form college. When we had Hardy’s diagnosis of an autistic spectrum disorder, we decided that, for us, the best option was to have one of us at home full time to work intensively with him, so I chose to put my career on hold for a bit. So far, so gender stereotyped! However, a year later, Hardy's dad managed to create a situation where he could work from home, meaning that for the last eighteen months, we’ve both been with Hardy full time. We try our very hardest to share our lives equally. No matter how busy we are, we have some unbreakable rules: the working day ends at 2:45, when we both go to pick Hardy up from school. The evening is then his. One of us cooks dinner while the other is with Hardy, the other person later bathes him and gets him ready for bed. We then swap this the next night. The person bathing Hardy gets him into bed and reads his first bedtime story with him, the other person comes up for the second story, which we read together, then we say goodnight in exactly the same way, in the same order. These strategies, amongst others, mean that someone is always fully focused on the little man (because he can do some pretty daft stuff when no-one's looking!) and it keeps his anxiety levels down a bit. Being on the autistic spectrum, he's obviously so much happier when he has a regular routine too. It goes without saying that we can't share everything out perfectly, but for me, the most important thing is that Hardy's dad is an absolutely equal partner in his son's upbringing. He's never missed an event at nursery or school or a medical appointment. The staff at school have an ongoing dialogue with both of us, they know that they can grab either of us to chat. It's one of my greatest hopes that he can look back on his life and know that he shared as much of his precious son's childhood as possible. In terms of juggling our lives, it gives us enormous flexibility. If one of us is busy, the other one can pick up the reins straight away. I'm very aware that our life is not for everyone, spending all day every day with their other half would drive some people crackers. However, it works for us. All three of us are quite insular sorts and gain great love and support from our happy little family unit. However, in amongst that, we try never to lose sight of ourselves as a couple. We have another unbreakable rule. Every Thursday afternoon Hardy’s dad and I take ourselves out for lunch. This is our one oasis in the week that is just for the two of us. It’s amazing considering how much time we spend physically in the same space, how little time we get to just sit and chat (certainly without being interrupted every three minutes to be told what the time is in Athens or what the temperature is in Wagga Wagga – I kid you not!). Life takes you in some odd directions, so we’ve worked hard to find a system that works well for us. If you’d asked me five years ago where I’d be in my life now, it would have borne absolutely no relation to the life I’m currently living…and I can’t thank Hardy enough for that. Cara is mum to Hardy, who is five and a half, has an autistic spectrum disorder, a complex language disorder and high levels of anxiety. She is currently taking an extended break from her career as a teacher. She fills her spare time making visual aids and resources for Hardy, and has a house full of PECS cards! She blogs at “Why My Autistic Son is Brilliant” which aims to focus on the positives of ASDs and living with a superhero who has an ASD.