In the midst of some of the most busiest time in our family life the past few weeks I sat and stared and stared at my computer screen with a blank stare. I was looking at four words that were penetrating my inner soul more than I had expected. The four words were part of a larger email sitting in my in-box and I was literally frozen.
Refuel, Retool, Refresh, Reconnect.
I’ve come to realize one thing about being a full-time caregiver that I have needed in my life and I have had to protect it above anything my care-receiver, my family, my faith (okay maybe not that much but you get the point). I need to have space in my life.
Space needs to be nothing. Nothing scheduled, nothing to-do, nothing to watch, nothing to read, nothing to volunteer for, NOTHING! The reason is this: if I am operating at 99-120% then I have no space for the unexpected as a caregiver. Let me explain further. My wife, whom I am a full-time caregiver for, was recently admitted into hospital due to an infection. Now an infection is really serious after her BMT (bone marrow transplant). She was in hospital for 7-days and life at home continued in its normal rhythm. I needed space in my life to drive to the hospital for visits and adjust my work schedule minimally but I still needed to have that space. Once my wife came home, which was yesterday, I needed to have that space for runs to the pharmacy, home-care nurse to come into our home, making alternate plans for our 3 year old to go to friends houses.
Now the unexpected is always going to happen and I can never fully prepare for those times in my lives. What I need to do is allow space to exist in my life as a caregiver. I cannot keep calling and canceling or rescheduling plans. That is an added stress and leaves me running on fumes and exhausted. If that happens without space being in my life it will impact my caregiving, my family, my relationships, my health, and so much more.
So the answer I have found is simplicity. Keep my schedule simple, keep my family meals (and prep) simple. By keeping things simple I’m able to focus, concentrate and make informed decisions. Even though I hate not being busy and joggling many things at once. By keeping things simple I am a better person and through this season of caregiving, my family gets me 100% of the time without distractions.