You’ll have those days when you want to throw up your hands, scream “I’m Done,” and then just walk out the door, never to return.
You’re done with caregiving.
It could be that the day just became too much of not enough going well. It could be that the day included unhelpful comments from unsupportive family members. Or, it could be that you couldn’t get out and, wow!, did you want to get out. Or, you just had no idea what to do for your caree.
When any (or all) of these events happen, you want to turn your back on caregiving. Wave it good-bye for ever. Break up for good.
When you’re done, it can be so hard to stay. Here’s how to stay:
1. Accept your bad day. Fighting it often only makes it worse. You’ve having a bad day. Sometimes, you’re having a really bad day. It’s okay.
2. Know your bad day will end. Really. There’s only 24 hours in a day. And, you have to sleep at some point. Take comfort in knowing there’s an end point.
3. Stop doing what’s stressing you out. Sounds simple, but we often keep doing exactly what makes us miserable. Maybe you’re worrying. Maybe you’re doing laundry. Maybe you’re engaged in a battle of the wills with your caree. Maybe you’re visiting with family. Whatever it is that’s making you miserable, stop. Take a break from the worry. Save the laundry for another day. Put down your weapons. Excuse yourself from the family. Stop trying to solve a problem on your own. Just stop.
4. Give in to the day. Allow you and your caree (and any other family members) a break from the routine or the “must do’s” or the “have to’s.” Take time for a glass of lemonade (or water or soda) and two cookies for both of you. Give in so you can breathe.
5. Laugh at what is your undoing. When you step back and really look around, something funny is happening. Find the funny.
6. Do whatever you can to give yourself sleep as soon as you can. Take a nap. Rest in your chair. Go to bed early with permission to sleep in. Sleep often solves the problem of a bad day.
7. Write it out in your journal. Say exactly what’s on your mind and in your heart. If you’re worried about writing it out in your journal, then write it out on a separate piece of paper you can toss later.
8. Forgive. Forgive the disease, forgive your caree, forgive yourself.
9. Finally, know a bad day isn’t about you being a bad person. The bad day is about a circumstance, a situation, an incident. Keep the bad day in its place rather than letting it place you in the position of being wrong or bad or unworthy. You’re a good person whose bad moments seem to be overtaking the day. That’s it.
Days will come when you want to be done. Put the done in your rear view mirror by knowing good days lie ahead.
- What’s caregiving like for you? Share your experiences in our 2011 Annual Family Caregiver Survey; get a 30-minute coaching session with Denise and a chance to win a $100 Amazon.com gift card. Take the survey here.
- Do you love our comforts? Then, you’ll love Take Comfort, Too, More Reflections of Hope for Caregivers. In Take Comfort, Too, Denise M. Brown takes 108 words—including Parade, Green, Red and Glory—and then turns each into a reflection. The reflections focus on a family caregiver’s reality, sprinkled with hope. Denise’s insights about the caregiving experience feel like a warm hug, a helpful smile and an encouraging nudge. Order here.