Are you caring for a spouse, family member or friend and at the same time trying to balance work responsibilities? Recently, a follower shared her challenge of trying to balance caring for a family member in addition to her role as a senior care marketer. She was feeling overwhelmed, stressed and burned out trying to meet everyone’s expectations. After all, achieving census /occupancy goals is a tremendous responsibility.
I can certainly relate to the challenge of balance, as I experienced my own struggles as a caregiver for my dad, and now my mom. Through trial and error, I learned a few coping tips that might help other senior care professionals navigate the journey of caregiving and work responsibilities.
Be honest. With yourself, your family, friends and your employer about what’s really going on at home, and your challenge with trying to manage your work responsibilities. If your employer values your work, they will work with you during this challenging time in your life. Bottom line-you can’t do it all!
Prioritize at work and home. Caregiving makes you take a step back and determine what’s really important. Now is the perfect time to make to do lists for home and work, and determine what the “gotta do’s” vs. the “want to do’s” are. It’s not a good time to take on new projects or strategies. Also, if delegating is not your norm, now is a good time to start learning how.
Be gentle with yourself. The best advice a good friend gave me was to be gentle with myself. I needed to cut myself some slack, and to be forgiving. The things I didn’t get done. The expectations from others I wasn’t meeting. The emotional outbursts I experienced unexpectedly. Those “things” become emotional guilt that holds you hostage.
Ask for help. Allowing others to help you is really giving them a gift. It allows them to show you how much they care about you. It doesn’t mean you’re not a good caregiver, it means you’re human and realize the importance of being “interdependent”. After all that’s how God designed us to be.
Check work at the door. I know-sounds easy, but it’s not. However, as I look back at the times I sat by dad’s bedside doing work on my lap top, it wasn’t until later that I realized that no one really appreciated that “extra “ work, and more importantly, that was quality time that I lost with my dad. Choose to be PRESENT!
Take time for you. You can’t continue caring for someone if you don’t take care of yourself. Make quiet time. Schedule lunch with a friend. One day my husband surprised me with an appointment for a massage; I didn’t realize how tight and sore the stress of caregiving had made me.
Rely on something bigger than you. My caregiving experiences lead me on a spiritual journey I never expected. I learned to let go and stop being in control, and allow God to be my source of strength. I discovered my true gifts and passion. Don’t be afraid to step outside your “normal” religion and seek spiritual exploration and growth-open your heart to what God has planned for you.
Knowledge has its limits. Sometimes working in the senior care industry can be a double edged sword-we know too much. However, it can also be difficult to step aside and allow professionals to do their job. So I found it helpful to use resources so that I could learn what to expect and plan for, and yet at the same time I learned when I needed to step aside and just be a daughter, and not the care manager. Don’t overlook opportunities to just be a daughter, and share special moments.
As I look back on how I managed caring for my dad and working, I wish I would have had this checklist. I would have been able to make more memorable moments with my dad. So I pray these tips will help someone who is challenged with balancing work and caregiving. Work will always be there, yet those you love won’t.
P.S. Thanks to the special reader who inspired me to share my story.
What tips have you found helpful for balancing caregiving and work?
“By Patty Cisco, Creative Catalyst for CISCO & CO. For effective marketing, sales and customer strategies that connect you with your customers visit www.ciscoco.com.”