No matter what type of care you’re giving, there are a few things most caregivers face: exhaustion, feelings of inadequacy, and questioning one’s purpose.
Having been a caregiver myself throughout my twenties as a nanny, at a special needs camp, and with my grandmother and now my dad, I still have those struggles. I never feel completely prepared or qualified for all of the responsibility as well as physical and mental demands. Hopefully what I’ve learned will help you overcome these feelings if you ever struggle with them, too.
Here are 3 things that I’ve needed to remind myself in order to stay somewhat sane:
- This is just a season. It may be a long season or even a very long season, but it’s only part of my life. It’s a difficult balance because caregiving can be all-consuming. It’s been important for me to maintain hobbies and work outside of my role as a caregiver while also giving up other hobbies and jobs that no longer fit my schedule. I love being a caregiver, but I also love other things. I still have a life outside of taking care of others.
- What you’re doing matters. This helps me because some days it seems I’m doing more harm than good. I mess up so many times and think someone else would be better at it. Other days I don’t feel like doing anything. It just seems unimportant, and I feel like I’m trapped and ungrateful. When I remember that I’m helping my family as well as the person I’m caring for, it helps me have a better attitude (although I still have lazy days).
- Your life has purpose outside of being a caregiver. Even though being a caregiver is huge, sometimes it doesn’t seem like it in the grand scheme of things. It’s great to be able to get away when possible to help in the community or even to write a letter or blog post to encourage others and let them know they aren’t alone.
I’m so blessed to have people in my life who are encouraging me with these same messages. Sometimes I feel like I’m the most selfish caregiver and that no one else has these struggles. But as I think about friends and family members who are taking care of others, I remember some of the things they’ve said about it and realize that maybe I’m not the only one.
If you know a caregiver, I hope this helps you see how you can affirm what they’re doing and allow them the space to take care of themselves as they take care of others.
If you are a caregiver, I hope this helps you know that someone else understands. Try not to be so hard on yourself. You can make it through another day.
If you’re a caregiver, I’d love to connect with you and share support and resources as this has become a big part of my life again.