On the show Project Runway, fashion consultant Tim Gunn is always saying to the fashion designers “make it work”. It is also the mantra of every caregiver on the planet.
Whether caring for children or parents or anyone for that matter, the ones that give care are mentally saying to themselves, make it work. We lose sleep mentally trying to devise a plan of doing this so that can get done, coming home early (as I did today) and not telling anyone you are there so you can have some quiet time to just sit and be quiet and try not to think about what else needs to get done. We use our break times at work to make phone calls, run errands during lunchtime (mine was going to the post office to pick up stamps for my mother), and actually enjoying the ride home from work because of leaving work early and beating the traffic crunch.
And so I have a question for you: How is your “making it work” plan working for you? The designers on Project Runway oftentimes have to rethink their design, particularly when Tim puts his hand to his face and exhibits that concerned look that is silently saying “I think you may want to rethink this one”. The same holds true for the caregiver. Wanting to do the right thing but not sure how to go about it. But here’s the main thing about it all. Through no fault of their own, caregivers are very busy people, not so much because of their own life, but for the live(s) of the one(s) they are caring for. Because so much time is placed on that person, there is little time for the caregiver to care for self. This has the potential for a myriad of problems, from depression, to lack of focus, loss of sleep, and health concerns. As my mother has told me “you can’t keep going at the pace you’re going. I don’t want you to get sick.” She has a point, and I know her concern is an appropriate one.
But caregivers also don’t want to impose on others, and so they keep going at what appears to be a breakneck pace to get everything done. What happens when it doesn’t get done? We have to acknowledge some things:
- You are only one person. Sorry to have to tell you this, but you are not perfect either. There are days all is going great, and there will be many times it seems like all is going wrong. Please do not fault yourself. If anything, perhaps this is something you need to do:
- Learn to say no to things. Does it have to get done now? I was this week just getting into a good flow at work, and feeling good about it, when my mother reminded me she needed to be taken to the doctor this week. I told her the appointment would need to be rescheduled. The good news was she was okay with it, and I was successful in getting the date I wanted.
- Make the time to be alone with yourself. Schedule it and stick to it. Unless there is an emergency don’t reschedule quiet time. Make it a daily habit.
- Not a monthly…and not a weekly, but a daily habit. Take time for you. Give yourself some priority.