10 Tips for Family Caregivers: Beating the After-Break Break-Up


10 Tips for Family Caregivers: Beating the After-Break Break-Up

beach_bahamas(Editor's Note: We continue sharing 10 tips each day for family caregivers. Adjusting after returning from last week's caregiving cruise reminded me of these tips, which appear in my book, The Caregiving Years, Six Stages to a Meaningful Journey.)

Ahh… you got a break. Maybe it was just for one day or for a weekend or maybe even for a week. And, on your break, you did just what you wanted.

It was heaven.

Then, it ended.

Now, you’re in the anti-heaven.

You have to go back. You must go back. You want to want to go back. But, honestly, all you want is a break up. You want to break up with Caregiving.

How do you end the break without a break-up? Some tips:

1. Everyone needs a goal or a reward or a possibility to look forward to, especially family caregivers. Once you go back, what can you look forward to next? When can you take your next short and extended breaks?

2. Express your dread about going back to an empathetic, non-judgmental ear (your support group, your best friend, your journal). It’s okay you don’t want to go back. It’s understandable. Expressing yourself may release some of its hold on you.

3. Energize your environment. Paint your favorite room your favorite color. Add an area to your room for a hobby. Create your sanctuary. Reconfigure your furniture. Changing how your environment looks may help change how you feel.

4. Mix it up. Order dinner in on a Wednesday rather than on Friday. Rent a movie to watch on a Monday. Take a car drive with your caree on Tuesday rather than Sunday. Do something different on a regular basis.

5. Keep the photos you took during your break handy. Review, reminisce, relax. Know you’ll have a chance for another break.

6. Take a deep look at what’s causing your dread. Are certain tasks becoming too much for you? Does your relationship with your caree make you feel like a door mat? Are you worried about the reality that will greet you? Use your introspection to find more help, set new boundaries, increase the support you need. Dread can be a signal that you’d like something to change. Find it and then work to change it.

7. What did you love about your break that you’ll miss in your caregiving role? Will you miss the naps? The leisurely pace? Being off-call? Whatever you missed: How can you add a little bit of that into your routine?

8. Are you ready for a transition? Your dread may be a signal that you’re ready for a transition in your role. Research and consider your options. Maybe you won’t be ready for the transition for another six months—that’s okay because it may take six months for the transition to work.

9. Feel it. However you feel, feel it. Feel without resentment or guilt. You are entitled to your feelings. If your feelings frighten or sadden you, seek help.

10. Bank it. Save something every week, even if only a buck. Having your own savings plan means you can plan for your future.

Finally, this too shall pass. It will.

What tips would you add?

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Really excellent tips Denise. They will come in handy. Thanks.....