So, as u may have gathered-i know that women are absolutely amazing. I am fortunate to know heaps of lovely, kind, wonderful men…but c’mon-its all about women. Without us, humankind doesn’t exist. We take our jobs as women very seriously and frequently compromised our own financial futures and emotional well being to caretake others. Sometimes it requires that we voluntarily remove ourselves from the workplace to make it so. Oftentimes, the end result is that we are doing the work of two people and its time to get these nice men of ours to step up their game a bit…but since we know that the completely reliable way for change to occur is to change ourselves, here are 6 life hacks for helping to keep u sane as u make all the difference in the world to those u love.
- Just say “no” to the white noise. Perhaps u are an expectant mother. There will be a dim-witted Auntie who will be very happy to elaborate on her 30 hours of labor. Just shut down the “dumb” quickly by sweetly asking: “Auntie, before u continue your story, consider whether or not it will be helpful or fear producing to me.” This goes for all such…shall we loosely call it “advice”? You will have experts on broken bones and hernias and cancers before they have asked even a first question of u. I’m gonna be honest here. Your free time is about to go to zero. U do not have time to humor thoughtless people.
- You are the caregiving general contractor. There will be a lot of moving parts and your most important job is to be the project supervisor. There will be doctors and tests and appointments and the person u r caregiving will be too sick, or young (or unborn)-so they will not be able to manage this most important bit. Be meticulous with your record keeping. I recommend setting up a different themed google calendar that u can share with stakeholders and also maintaining a spreadsheet with pertinent details. Google sheets integrates nicely with all mobile devices. Have all this information at hand for medical appointments. Ask questions. Research for ideas and best practices and options and be ready with those questions. Make your medical appointments a dialogue, not a monologue.
- Apologize to friends and loved ones in advance and solicit their help. Explain that your time is ridiculously constrained and that will result in less interaction during this process…and ask if they can help. Identify help that is actually useful to u and have a list of ideas for the folks best suited to the task of driving, meal prep, appointment setting, house chores, deadlines, baby sitting, dog walking…anything that lightens YOUR load. People who love u want to help. It deepens your connections when u r able to both give AND receive from those whom u love.
- Take care of yourself FIRST. Remember what they tell u during air travel? “Secure your own oxygen mask before attempting to help others.” If u are too ill to assist, u have done the person u are caregiving a grave injustice. U r cherished and if u fall ill, your dependent loved one will hurt even more and have many needs unmet. Besides all the other stuff u have to do every day, u must sleep for at least 6 hours and take a daily shower, get half an hour of outdoor physical activity and eat healthy foods.
- Know when the gig is over. Kids get older and people recover. You have to be mindful of this and start transitioning responsibilities back to the caregiven. Being a long term caregiver is weird and we create a schedule and habits that are hard to change once we r no longer needed in that capacity. Notice increasing skills and strength and task it with parts of your list. Kids can make their own lunches. A recovering ill person can organize their own medications. Start putting the ball back in their court.
- We’re all here for such a short time. Sometimes we are preceded in death. Sometimes the person we are caregiving will not recover. For me, this is the ultimate reason to serve another. This depth of connection is unmatched. The bond that is developed between a true dependent who has chosen u through nature or nurture to care for them when they cannot do as much for themselves is the highest calling. If we are very lucky, we will find that depth of love will be returned to us in our time of need.
Now, if we are to put this in the context of working and entrepreneurism…things will probably be moving more slowly for u at this time due to time constraints. Just make sure to be honest with your employer about the level of contribution u can make. People are beautiful and kind. If u choose to communicate early instead of trying to do it all and possibly fumbling the ball for your employer, u give them a chance to sort out how to meet the needs of the company and respect your situation. Be brave and tell the truth. If u r an entrepreneur- think of this as your “thinking time.” Think about ideas in play or ways to improve upon systems u r witnessing. There is so much boringness during these times of intense caregiving. Your adrenal system is wiped or u r anxious beyond measure or u r waiting for somebody to wake up or to be called for an appointment. Anyhow-just keep half and eye open to possibilities for entrepreneurship. One product i am developing came to fruition under these circumstances. Every time u ask yourself why things are done a certain way- u r looking at a possible idea that can make the process better, easier, cheaper, safer, faster for the next person to walk in your shoes.