Everyone is busy these days. We work, are parents, spouses, siblings, adult children, friends, pet parents, and volunteers. And then one day, we also become a caregiver.
Like parenting, there is no training for this. We are not raised with the expectation that one day our role will be caregiver for someone with a serious health problem. Nothing is subtracted from our To Do list, and in fact it may grow by leaps and bounds as we add to the list items once done by the person for whom we now care.
You may be taking on all the duties once done by your spouse or providing unexpected assistance to your parent. In addition, you are now going to lots of doctor appointments, talking to the insurance company, and are now on a first name basis with the pharmacist.
Take a deep breath, let it out slowly, and shake out your arms a bit because you’re not going to like what comes next. You’re not going to be perfect, or even good, at doing all of this. Cut yourself some slack.
If you are a perfectionist, or Type A personality, you will really struggle with this. All you can do is your best. The Tiger Cubs, first graders who are in Cub Scouts, have a motto, “Do your best.” As a caregiver, you need to try to adopt this motto.
The challenge you will face, sometimes daily, is that life continues. Cars get flat tires, dinners burn, pets get sick. Meanwhile, you’re going to work, doing the laundry, paying bills, and oh, yeah, dealing with the new responsibilities like mowing the lawn and taking out and bringing back in the garbage cans, and learning new skills like how to operate the edger, plus taking care of and worrying about someone else.
The bad news is that you still have that same 24 hours a day you had before and a lot more things to do during that time. Things will fall through the cracks. You’ll be late for or miss an appointment, return a library book late, snap at someone, or forget someone’s birthday.
Beating yourself up doesn’t help. Believe me, I tried. Nothing good comes of it. You have a lot of responsibilities and if you beat yourself up, you’re only wasting time and energy. Instead, cut yourself some slack, apologize, pay the fine, correct your mistake if you can and move on. You aren’t perfect; you’re human. You’re doing an incredible job. Take another deep breath, shake out your arms one more time and try again.
You’ve got this!
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