Being a caregiver requires a great deal of patience and comes with a unique set of challenges and rewards. Sometimes it can feel like there are not enough hours in a day to get everything done. There have been blogs written about caregiving tools, technology, and communication tips that can help, but none of those matter if you don’t have the time to use them. This blog will focus on a few ways you can make the hours in the day work for you as you provide care to someone you love.
Lists are your friends. Lists have been a way for people to keep track of the things they need to accomplish. Whether you choose to use paper and pen or an app on your smartphone, make a list of the things you want to get done each day. Not only will these lists determine the course of your day, they may also help you frame your week or even your month. Lists provide a bird’s-eye view of your life and can help you to feel more in control.
Know what’s important. Notice the word “lists” above is plural? Break your to-do items into categories: the things that need to get done, the things you want to get done, and the things that would be good to get done if there is time left. And don’t forget to include the things you need to get done for yourself as well! These are just as important as the tasks you planned to complete for others.
Knock out the little things. While your lists will help you prioritize each day, try to multitask with the little things before they add up. Does the trash need to be taken out? Make an effort to do it if you’re headed toward the garbage bin. See a few items that are misplaced? Put them away then and there. Sometimes the small things that pile up can feel overwhelming, so try to get them done before they get to you.
Expect the unexpected. Stuff happens. Leave a few minutes of each day to address things that didn’t make it onto your lists. Worst-case scenario: you’ll have to deal with something you did not see coming, but by setting aside some time, you’ll be able to handle it. Best-case scenario: nothing unexpected happens and you manage to either (a) knock off more low-priority items on your to-do list or (b) enjoy a few moments of peace in an otherwise busy day.
Ask for help. Requesting assistance is not a sign of weakness. If you’re feeling like there’s just not enough time to do what you need to do, it’s okay to ask for help. See if your family can take a turn preparing dinner, or a friend can help you with another task. Use your network to help you get things done and don’t feel bad about it. If someone offers to give you a hand, take it. Return the favor when you can, but let others assist you on your caregiving journey.
Every caregiver’s situation is different, but everyone could use a little more time in their schedule. Hopefully these tips allow you to breathe a bit while you check each item off of your to-do list (and allow for more “you time”).