Contributed by Dawn Allcot
Being a caregiver isn’t easy. Whether you care for young children, an aging parent or an ill spouse, it’s a non-stop job. As with any job or ongoing duty, we sometimes lose our motivation. It doesn’t mean we love the person we’re caring for any less. Losing motivation usually means we need some “me” time to recharge our batteries.
Here are seven tips for when you need motivation to pick yourself off the couch – even when you don’t want to.
1. Escape for a little while.
It’s hard to grab “me” time in your own home if you’re a caregiver living with your loved one. Sneaking a chocolate bar in the bathroom doesn’t count! Hire respite care or use the Lotsa Helping Hands care calendar to schedule break time so a friend, neighbor or relative cares for your loved one while you leave the premises.
Maybe the clichéd “mani/pedi” or “day at the spa” doesn’t appeal to you. Call a friend and go to an amusement park. Take a walk on the beach. Go jogging, hiking, or go for a bike ride. Your special day doesn’t have to fit anyone else’s mold of what “should” recharge your batteries.
Rather than waiting until you burn out completely, set aside time each day doing what’s important to you. I know many moms that get up 20 minutes before their kids to enjoy coffee on the porch to give themselves a “get away” even if it’s just for a moment. Maybe staying up late to watch “Real Housewives” or and uninterrupted Netflix marathon will make you happy.
Remember to take longer breaks at least once a month, especially when you need motivation in your caregiver duties.
2. Ditch your to-do list for a “Done” list.
To-do lists are great, don’t get me wrong. When you get overwhelmed, writing down everything you have to do and crossing items off the list as you finish them can create momentum that motivates you to do more.
But if you’ve kept a to-do list for so long that it just becomes yet another piece of paperwork, it’s time for a change. Start a “done” list instead! Think back to all you’ve accomplished today and write it down. If it’s early in the morning, think back to yesterday or the beginning of the week. Use the Lotsa Helping Hands calendar to remind you of the tasks you’ve completed. Rolling your to-do list into a “done” list will surely give you an emotional boost when you need motivation to tackle the rest of your tasks.
3. Talk it out.
As a caregiver myself, I know that sometimes a good “vent” is all we need. We might realize how ridiculous we sound and start counting our blessings instead of our troubles. Or, by talking out our problems, we may find solutions to issues that plague us. In a best case scenario, the friend we’re venting to can offer help. Whichever scenario plays out, your motivation should quickly return because you’ll find assurance and hope in your support system.
4. Find a way to make it fun.
There are tasks we just hate. (For me, it’s housework.) Since I’ve enlisted my children’s help, we started to make cleaning a game or a contest. I may never love laundry, but with the music turned up and my children putting their clothes away as I fold towels, it’s tolerable. If you have to drive a long way to treatments or doctor appointments, try listening to an audio book. Pick an old classic or a new series that will make you actually want to go for a drive! Exhausted while waiting at the hospital? Try stimulating your mind with brain games like Sudoku and Tetris.
Take some time to ask yourself, “what caregiving tasks do you perform every day that could be more fun for you and your loved one if you work together?”
Is there a task you absolutely can’t stand doing and you’re too exhausted to make it fun? The next thing to ask yourself is, “can I delegate this task to someone who might actually enjoy it?” Life is filled with things we need to do that we don’t enjoy. But today’s world of technology provides more possibilities than ever before to delegate these obligations. Use your Lotsa Helping Hands community to enlist help mowing the lawn, grocery shopping for your aging parent, or any other task that you feel you can’t possibly do one more time.
6. Power through.
Sometimes, the only way out is through. As Prometheus said, “Big things have small beginnings.” If you need motivation to make it through the week of tasks and to do’s piling high, get yourself started by completing a task that you normally enjoy. The results of your actions will be their own reward and you’ll start to feel motivated to tackle another task.
7. Cut yourself some slack.
As caregivers, as much as we try to be superwoman or superman, we’re merely human and need a break. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness, but a sign of confidence and strength. Take a step back to think about who might be able and willing to help you. Whatever names come to mind, these people make up your community who will help you when you ask for it. As we like to say here at Lotsa Helping Hands, there are plenty of hands ready to help. Let them.
What do you do to regain motivation when you’re feeling caregiver burnout?