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office_school_paper_pencilIt’s back to school time! If you are raising a child, they have either started school or will be returning to school very soon. With the start of the school year comes excitement, anxiety, new clothes, new school supplies, the outlay of a lot of money, and a busier schedule.

If you’re also a family caregiver, you may be wondering how you will juggle everything. You might be an experienced family caregiver who has been doing this for a couple of years, or you might have only recently transitioned into a caregiving role. Whatever your experience as a sandwiched family caregiver, these tips may help you.

Your calendar is your new BFF. You need to have a calendar system that works for you. If you won’t use something it won’t work. I recommend you use a calendar that goes through June 2014 at least, so the entire school year will be in one place. The calendars I use will take me through December 2014. I prefer both a wall calendar and a datebook calendar. Others use a calendar on the phone, tablet, or computer. Whatever you use, as soon as the calendar comes home from school, invest an hour or so and write all the important information on the calendar. This includes Back-To-School night, Open House, performances or sports events, and times when you know your child will be at school late or has to return to school for a rehearsal or a sports practice. Make sure to include those important days when they have a day off from school, get out of school early, or start school late.

back-to-school.svg.medPlan ahead for crazy days. Now that you can see the future, for about the next nine months, you may see some days that look insane! Can you juggle anything on that day and move it to another day or time? If not, you can plan ahead to make that day go smoothly by preparing in advance for dinner that day. You can make and freeze a meal to heat that day, plan to make use of your crock-pot, or have supplies on hand for a quick meal such as Corn Chowder. It’s okay to plan this as a takeout our pizza night!

Stock up on school supplies. Even if you’ve already purchased everything your child needs for the school year, the next time you go to the store, pick up a few more items. Purchase those things you know you’ll need before the school year ends: glue sticks, pens, college or wide-ruled paper, spiral notebooks, notebook dividers and folders. Many of these items are on sale right now. Don’t forget to stock up on printer paper and ink. Yes, it’s expensive, but you’ll appreciate it when the printer runs out of black ink at 11:00 p.m. as your child prints a report that’s due the next day.

While your children are at school, enjoy something with your caree that your child would not enjoy. Connect with your caree in pleasurable way rather than just through those things you do for them every day. Do something your caree will enjoy such as listen to music they like, watch a movie they want to see even if they’ve seen it many times before, or go on an outing. My husband wants to visit an aircraft carrier, so rather than subject our teenaged son to this, we’re going in the next couple of weeks after he starts school.

Take a few minutes for yourself. I know this can be very hard, but try to squeeze in 15 minutes to do something for you. Sit in the yard and listen to the birds, read a book or magazine just for the fun of it, browse in the library, or go for a walk with a friend for example. Appreciate the great job that you are doing!

Program your cell phone now with the names and numbers of those people you can contact when you need their help. Make sure a trusted friend or neighbor has an extra key to your house. You never know when you’ll have to call on someone for help, but you can follow the Boy Scout motto and “Be Prepared.”

Have a great school year!

What tips would you add? Please share what works for you in our comments section, below.

About G-J

Avatar of G-J
I am a caregiver for my 59-year-old husband, Steve, who was diagnosed with Mild Cognitive Impairment in December 2009. His employer put him on disability and he had to retire one year later when he couldn't return to work. I am also the mother to our son who is now a high school senior. We have a cat, Sagwa, who rounds out our family. In addition to blogging here, I volunteer at my son's high school in the scholarship office, teach a class I created called, "Keep Your Brain Buff" at our city's Senior Center, lead a writing group at the Alzheimer's Association, and advocate for people with all types of dementia. In November, I will be participating in my third Walk to End Alzheimer's.

5 comments

  1. Avatar of Jane

    G-J:

    As always you have such awesome ideas. I was at both Target and Staples today and all they have is July – June calendars. I bought a daily datebook in July at Walmart that goes through June and now I need a monthly that I carry with me especially when I’m with Nicole and then have a copy of it in my purse for the current month for when Nicole isn’t with me. They haven’t come out with the monthly calendars for 2014 (Jan. – Dec.) . I was amazed at the price difference. I found one at Target which I bought last year and it is $9.99 and the Day Minder and even Staples brand is $25 – $30. I really liked the Target one so will continue to use that next year.

    I hope Robert (I never can remember if it is Robert or Richard) has a great senior year and you do too….

    Thanks for all the tips that you always give me and I want you to know that I appreciate them so very much.

    Hugs:o)
    Jane

  2. Avatar of Trish

    Great tips, G-J! You made me laugh at the idea of running out of printer ink in the middle of the night. After raising three kids, I assure you it happens! It’s such a relief to have spare – everything on hand. I love all your tips because it shows how darn organized you are and even those of us who no longer have kids in the house can use them. Thanks for sharing during a very busy time! Wishing your son a fantastic year! (Have fun looking at the aircraft carrier – I should send @kreisler – he’d love it!).

  3. Avatar of ejourneys

    Fantastic tips — even for someone who doesn’t have kids! In addition to sales, I think this time of year some stores hold off on charging sales tax for back-to-school items. Also, if you have Outlook or another calendar program, you can customize a calendar (to a certain extent) and then print it out. Enjoy the aircraft carrier! :D

  4. Avatar of Denise

    Great tips!! Love the idea of stocking up especially because those kinds of supplies do seem to disappear.

    I hope Robert has an amazing senior year. :)

  5. I Hear you G-J!

    As a single-father of two amazingly beautiful kids (if you could see me you would understand the emphasis… I got lucky!) that are now grown and off to college, beginning careers, I can attest to all the unforeseen circumstances and pratfalls of middle of the night emergencies and forgotten deadlines.

    Thank YOU for this blog; often the simple validation that we are not alone when we see or hear a “been there done that!” kind of expression is helpful for those of us that are constantly overly critical of our own efforts/accomplishments.

    When you are trying to do too much; it’s ok if some of it doesn’t get done to your satisfaction! Good enough is good enough! Here is one tip I offer… “In everything you do, think also of YOU!” Even if it is something as simple as screeening and NOT answering an unimportant phone call; or (for me anyway) NOT shaving one-day; or significant even borderline heresay by allowing yourself to miss one of the endless back-to-school meetings (believe me, they can live without you at a few of these things! Spend the time with your family or by yourself instead)…

    “In everything you do… think also of YOU!”

    Thank YOU for Caring!

    DOC

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