According to Harvard Business School, three out of four U.S. workers have caregiving responsibilities, with the vast majority indicating these responsibilities are negatively affecting their careers. For many, juggling a job and managing home and family life is stressful enough, but add caregiving responsibilities to that, and it can be down-right overwhelming.
Let’s face it, caring for a loved one can be a full-time job by itself. “It’s just too much,” or “I don’t know how to fit everything that needs to be done into one day,” are common thoughts among those who find themselves in this role.
So how do you work, manage a family-life, and care for a loved one at the same time without feeling overwhelmed? How can anyone possibly fit all that needs to be done into one day? There are no easy answers to these questions, and everyone’s situation will be a little bit different, but there are some strategies that really can make things a little bit easier to manage.
Don't Be Afraid to Ask for Help
First and foremost, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Yes, typically, those who find themselves in this situation are those who wouldn’t normally ask for help to begin with, it’s a personality thing, but do it anyway. Maybe it’s allowing a neighbor to pull your garbage to the curb once a week or asking a friend for help shuttling the kids here and there. Maybe it’s asking your spouse to take on a responsibility you’ve always just “handled”.
Asking for help at home doesn’t mean you’re shirking your duties or not pulling your weight. No one can do everything all the time, so try to remember…you don’t have to.
Give Yourself a Pass Sometimes
Again, no one can do it all, all the time—even Superman had to walk away when there was kryptonite involved. It really is okay to let the laundry sit until the weekend, and the kids won’t be ostracized forever if they bring store-bought goods to school instead of homemade.
Save the late nights and early mornings for the things that really matter, maybe it’s catching up on that one thing that will help you sleep better at night, whatever that is for you, but it really is okay to let the rest go for the time being.
Take Breaks and Take Them Often
This doesn’t have to involve carving out time you already feel you don’t have. Taking a break can be something that takes only a moment—close your eyes and take a couple of deep breaths at your desk. Listen to your favorite song in the car. Maybe it’s just a quiet cup of coffee in the morning before the day gets going, or a quick lap around the office at lunchtime.
Do something, anything, that allows your mind to detach from your list of things to do.
Do Something You Love
Do something you love. Every. Single. Day. This can be as simple as taking a bubble bath before you fall into bed, reading one single page in that novel you’ve been trying so hard to get to, or enjoying that cup of coffee in your favorite chair.
Whatever it is that brings you joy, take the time to do it.
Talk to Someone
Talk to someone—a spouse, a sibling, your best friend, a coworker, or even a caregiver support group. We all need to feel heard. We need the ability to unload all that our minds are swimming with. In the absence of talking to a person, maybe spend some time journaling.
Sharing our worries, our stresses, our questions, and even our joy can do wonders in helping to lower stress levels.
Talk to Your Boss
Talk to your boss. Sometimes the simple act of sharing what you’re going through can make all the difference at work. Imagine how much easier things would be if you were given permission to carry your cell phone and respond to texts or take a personal phone call during the workday, versus hidden glances and trying to sneak in a return phone call or quick text. It might also be possible to flex your schedule to allow for things like appointments and caregiving visits, rather than having to take a day off or feel you have no option but to call in sick.
More often than not, an employer will bend over backward to keep a good employee. If you find yourself working for someone who won’t give you the benefit of the doubt, who won’t bend an inch, or who says there’s nothing they can do…well, it may be time to reevaluate who it is you’re working for. Finding a new job may seem daunting at the moment, like one more thing to do, but at the end of the day could make all the difference.
Balance is a word we often hear when it comes to physical and emotional wellbeing—how important it is in maintaining our health and living well. But when it comes to working and caregiving? Balance is critical. While there is no magic formula for what that balance may look like from one person to the next, find what works for you in your situation. It’s about asking yourself; how can I structure my life to make the most of the time I have and keep my stress level as low as possible? You are not alone, and you’ve got this.
If you struggling to manage your career and caregiving responsibilities, a Cariloop Care Coach would love to support you and your family through the caregiving journey. Become a member or call 1-844-790-5667 to get started.