New Year Resolutions for the Busy Parent-Caregiver:
Taking Back Control of Your Schedule
A lesson learned in caregiving: It is a marathon, not a sprint!
When a parent or family caregiver first learns of their child’s diagnosis, life can quickly turn hectic… in many cases, it becomes hectic to the point of unmanageable. There is so much to do! There are endless stacks of paperwork to complete, people to call, therapies to schedule, services to connect… It is a process of learning how to navigate within a new world.
Yes, those first years following a diagnosis are challenging.
Those first years are chaotic and busy. You may try endlessly to do *all* the things because you want to give your child the best start at life. You say “yes” to everything. You take every opening at your child’s therapy center. You are already nodding your head before you even consider your already full calendar. And you run, and run, and run…
And then, one day, a few years down the road, you stop running. Life calms down just enough for you to look around and see the chaos and feel overwhelmed by it all. That is the point at which family caregivers may come to realize that caregiving is a marathon, not a sprint, and long-term sustainability is the goal.
Caregiving responsibilities do not go away if a primary caregiver runs out of steam. Saying “yes” to everything, creating a calendar so full you forget to leave room to breathe, completely running yourself into the ground… that serves no one. And it is not sustainable when long-term caregiving is part of your future.
Raise your hand if you have been there…
(*With a sheepish grin, I slowly raise both hands, high into the air, nodding in acknowledgement*
Yes, I have been there.)
So, for family caregivers out there who are still looking for a New Year’s Resolution, here is one idea:
“In 2022, I resolve to take back control of my family’s schedule.”
What it means to “take back control” will look different for every family and for every caregiver. Set your own parameters. But, here are a few suggestions:
- I will prioritize the activities that matter most to my family.
- I will schedule time to take care of my own health and wellbeing.
- I will leave time in my schedule to pursue my personal interests, hobbies and educational or work goals.
- I will only say “yes” to therapy and appointment times that work for my family and that meet our priorities.
- I will safeguard the right of my children to enjoy unscheduled playtime.
- I will set aside time to concentrate on my relationships with my spouse or partner, my extended family and friends, and my kids.
- I will protect and value my time and will not overbook myself or my family.
- I will step back from activities that only bring stress and anxiety and that no longer serve our priority needs.
Remember: Caregiving is a tough job. It is hard work, and you are doing amazing.
Whitney Stohr is a Parent to Parent Coordinator at The Arc of Snohomish County. She is passionate about advocating for medically complex children and children with disabilities and their families. She is a mom and medical caregiver herself, who is energized by working closely with other parent/family caregivers. She lives with her three-year-old son Malachi and husband Jason in Lynnwood. Connect with her on Instagram @rollin.w.spinabifida. Contact: email@example.com.