I was inspired to start blogging more after attending my first HealthMinder Day at the BlogHer 2012 conference–it was such a great experience getting to connect with so many amazing women with incredible stories.
While the sessions I attended were focused on women caring for children with special needs, I was really touched by the commonality in the role of caregiving. Whether it’s for a child, spouse, sibling, parent, or grandparent, caregiving is intense … it is difficult! But there is such a great online community for support. And taking time out from caregiving duties to connect with other caregivers is so important. It’s easier said than done, but you absolutely have to take care of yourself first before you’re able to really give to someone else.
For me, that was simply finding the time to brush my teeth first thing in the morning! Gross, I know, but after just a few hours of sleep, when I was focused on changing my grandmother’s brief, getting her morning meds, communicating how the night went to the aide on the next shift, making Nanny’s oatmeal, remaking Nanny’s oatmeal (she fired me several times because it wasn’t the right temp or right consistency!), it was easy to forget about me. So I had to remember to squeeze that in … while I was boiling the water on the stove for oatmeal round 2!
The panel at BlogHer spoke about finding time to have a hobby and taking a much-needed mental break with humor … and belly dancing! Julia Roberts was so sweet to bring colorful belly dancing scarves for the group and we all gave it a go!
Making time to do something fun can be such a great release for a caregiver, but in the trenches of caregiver, I found that it was such a struggle to actually step away from the bedside. Someone had to literally make me do it!
So what stuck with me the most from the panel was what Julia said:
“Advocate for yourself as much as you do for your loved one.”
Such a great point that I hope you’ll take to heart.
I’d love to hear what your strategies are for coping and how you make time for yourself!