This is “the biggie.” Let’s take care of it first!
Sooner or later, nearly everyone feels this one. It’s completely natural, and nothing to feel ashamed or embarrassed about.
Caregivers often feel overwhelmed — that they’ve lost control over their lives — that they’re constantly “winging it” because of fast changing, unpredictable priorities — that their days are full of unknowns, self-doubts and questions like, “Am I doing the right thing?”
What you can do:
- Grab a pencil/pen and a blank piece of paper.
- Write down everything that you have to do for the rest of the day.
- Go through the list and pick out the ONE thing that’s the most important to do right now. Forget about everything else on the list until you’ve finished your ONE thing.
- Then, move on the the next most important SINGLE thing to do right now. Focus. Don’t think about what happened yesterday or what could happen tomorrow.
- Rinse and repeat the process for the NEXT most important thing to do.
- Ask yourself: “If I had someone to help me, what tasks, chores and errands on my list could I ask them to do?” No one will think less of you for asking for help. But, be specific about what kind of help you need and when you need it. Seek out the people best suited to help you with that need.
- Don’t sweat the small stuff. For example, a daily shower or bath isn’t necessary. In most cases, taking a bath or shower 2 – 3 times a week — with sponge baths on the in-between days — is quite sufficient. Brushing one’s teeth at least once a day (just before bed is best) is far more important.
- Whatever you do, it doesn’t have to be perfect. Good enough is OK and can save a lot of time. Above all, don’t feel guilty about doing a less-than-perfect job.
- At times, your carefully planned schedule will be completely disrupted. This is often a part of the caregiving process, and requires flexibility on your part. Don’t get upset — just go with the flow.
- If you’re combining work outside of your home and with caring for a loved one, see if your employer offers the Family and Medical Leave program. If so, check it out to see if you’re eligible and whether taking an occasional day off might help you.
- If you have a large multi-day project, break it down into its smaller component pieces, doing only one piece at a time.
Remember: It’s OK if you didn’t do everything on your list today. You DID get the most important things done. Everything else can be added to tomorrow’s list, if they’re still important.