Are you managing the caregiving crunch?

Are you managing the caregiving crunch?

Dear Sister,

Are you in the midst of the sandwich generation crunch? Feeling the demands of caring for parents as well as your own children. Or feeling pulled between career demands and family’s needs.  Sometimes our care and commitments to others draws heavily on us.  

 

I just returned home to my husband and daughter after time away with my aging, out of state parents. The most apparent factor on both ends of my trip was a deep need for my presence.

 

As I felt the great need coming at either end I experienced some momentary trepidation. It felt so big – like it might consume me. I took a deep breath and felt an inner shift and subsequent re-ordering of my priorities.  I came into alignment with my love for them, my desire to be of service and I set aside my personal agenda.

 

That’s one of the gifts of the Sacred Feminine – our ability to stop on a dime, assess what’s needed and give care.

 

Sometimes we choose self-sacrifice in response to other’s need. Not that we are the only gender capable of that but it is common ground for us as women. We naturally hold a consciousness that comes from our innate tendency to care for the young, old and frail in the human family.

 

This is not the first time I’ve been called to set aside my desires and agenda to care for a loved one.  Maybe you can you relate? 

 

Six years ago I set aside my personal goals and desires to support my daughter through a healing crisis that consumed me, and all of my resources for a few years. For that time my world shrunk and my commitment to supporting her affected all areas of my life including my own health and marriage. I knew going in I would pay a price but I also new I couldn’t walk away. I had to give it my all. I did. And it paid off. 

 

It took me years to rebuild and recover myself fully. I don’t regret my decision but I did learn some important things along the way. 

 

Here are 5 that are key when facing a call to heavy duty care giving:

 

  • Make it a conscious choice. To the best of your ability choose what you are committing to. If you notice you’re in over your head take a pause and consider if you can say yes to this level of commitment. Recognize you can say no, pull back and create a Plan B.  Being conscious in your choice will maintain your morale when things get tough and prevent resentment.

 

  • Take the time to fill your cup. I went into my recent trip well rested and buoyed by a weekend prior with friends. While that’s not always possible. I encourage you to claim as many moments of respite as you can. Choose activities and people that nourish and support you when you’re in the thick of care giving. This is a great time to prune relationships and activities that don’t feed your soul.

 

  • Recognize what’s yours to do. Which is never everything.  As women we are often drawn to attend to everyone in need, in all ways.  Give from your strengths. Give where you can make the greatest impact. Carry the piece you can realistically bear without undue harm to yourself and let go of the rest. Some one will step in to take it.

 

  • Identify additional supports.  Identify where can you take leadership and delegate. Take a pause and identify others willing to help. Ask them. Let others know when it’s getting rough. There’s no shame in asking for help and no glory in being a martyr.

 

  • Recognize your loved one is powerful.  They may be vulnerable and in need but your loved one is still a powerful being. They are co-creating their life moment by moment just as you are no matter how young, old or frail they may be. This is just another reminder it’s not all up to you!

 

As women we are the heart and soul of humanity. We carry the lion’s share of the care giving consciousness and responsibility. The next time you face the needs of others and the pull to give care remember you and your needs are part of the equation. You are powerful and can choose how to respond. Use your voice and authority to guide the care. And remember – it’s not all up to you!

 

17 Comments

  1. Dear Joni, Prayers to your parents, you, your family and extended family. This is a truly beautiful and wise post. I think your 5 points should be on a poster in hospitals. You could easily lead workshops on this topic. You have so much wisdom to share. Perhaps this is the last thing you want to think of just now. I hope you don’t mind. Sending love.

    Reply
    • Deep gratitude Reba. You are a love. xo

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  2. What wise words. We do tend to get caught up in caring for our family to the expense of ouselves sometimes. It is so important to prioritize and remember to also make ourselves a priority. All the best to you and your family.

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    • Thank you Tamuria. I will continue practicing to make myself a priority.

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  3. Beautiful post, Joni. I’m so sorry you are going through this challenging time. Sending prayers to you and your loved ones. I’m sure many people in their time of grief will be comforted by this <3

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  4. Such wisdom and strength, sending love and light to you and your family.

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  5. Dear Jessie,

    Thank you for your prayers and kindness. Your words are a comfort. xo

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  6. Beautiful Joni. I’ve been in the caregiver role before, and forgot to fill my cup. So, thank you for the gentle loving reminders. Xoxo

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    • It’s so easy to forget ourselves Natasha. It helps to have each other to remind us. xo

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  7. I’ve not yet been a big caretaker but realized I need to take better care of myself so I don’t become a burden. So I’m doing that. Very wise tips and you should be teaching it.

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  8. Thanks for your feedback Roslyn. I’ll give it some thought. So glad you are taking care of yourself, not just for your loved one’s sake but for your own. You deserve love and care. Thanks for your comment.

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  9. Joni, I am saddened deep in my heart to hear of your mom’s sudden health crisis and your previous needs to help your parents and your daughter. We are so drawn to immediately jumping into caring for others quickly, aren’t we women? Between my mom and my dad I spent several years flying to and from Toledo for various lengths of time to help out with my parent’s care. Now that they are both gone, I am so glad that I made that comittment to be there for as much as I could and as long as I could. I know I needed to be there emotionally for my well being as well as their needs. I appreciate your words and pray that your journey with your parents is full of love.

    Reply
    • Deep thanks Jama. I so appreciate your prayers and personal sharing.

      I remember you mentioning your dad and how much you missed him on FaceBook. I hadn’t realized you’d been through all that with your folks. I know it was a gift to them as well as for you.

      I’m grateful I have the ability to go and support my parents in their time of need. Sending you love, Joni

      Reply
  10. I have been a caregiver and this is a hugely special task. Thank you for your lovely tips!!xoxo

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  11. Blessings to you and your family Joni. My care-taking experiences came very early in life. Taking care of both of my brothers and my father for years before they passed was overwhelming at times. The thought of it now does not bring up positive feelings. My Mom and my husbands parents are in their 80’s and very active. Cody’s parents still work full time and make the drive to Colorado in the summer to visit family. My mom is like a 60 year old and very healthy. One day the time will come and we will be there for them 100%. The key I learned – take care of yourself as you take care of others.

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  12. Wow Joni such a powerful post and one that I will come back to often as my parents are elderly and I just had a new grandbaby so I’m feeling the pull from all ends. I love your list! for me I always know that when I give myself precious care than I can care for others! Much love xo

    Reply

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