Let me guess: your morning caregiving routine is pretty spelled out for you. It probably includes dressing and feeding your care buddy (mom, dad, spouse) and yes, the meds. Every day–2,3, 4 times a day you dole out the meds. Your routine may also include some physical therapy, schedule doctor appointments, argue with MediCare and insurance, trips to the store and pharmacy. Sound familiar?
Those aren’t the caregiving rituals I’m talking about. I’m referring to what you do before you do all that.
“What?” You may ask, “Roll out of bed, throw on my house coat and get busy?”
No wonder you’re burned out (yes, I mean you!)
Without a daily ritual that supports and under-girds all you do, you will become burned out (if you’re not already).
Caregiving is more than just a bunch of “to-do’s” It’s not merely a never-ending list of meds and doctor appointments. Caregiving is part of your relationship. Not all, but part. Caregiving has something to give you, to teach you–if you perk up your ears and your heart and listen.
What you’re doing is actually important, and not just on a physical level. But it has to start early in the morning. As a sandwich genaration mom, once I opened my bedroom door, I stepped into a raging river. My morning rituals gave me the strength and insight to face what might be on the other side of that door.
Ways to Create Meaning Through Your Caregiving Ritual:
Make your bedroom and your bathroom a sanctuary.
An easy quick fix that can change your mood is color–paint your bedroom–at least one wall.
Do you need a soothing color? Blushes, creams and peaches? Or do you need a joyful color? Turqoise, chartreuse or magenta?
Is your bedroom junky? The dumping ground while all the rest of the house looks relatively good? Well it’s time to change that! Even if you don’t have but 5 minutes, pick up the stuff that’s cluttering your floors and dresser tops and take them some place else–anywhere else. You deserve a serene room. You deserve beauty and order. Clean it up later, but get it out of your room–today!
Consider an electric water/tea kettle or a coffee pot for your bedroom/bath. It’s nice not to have to leave your bedroom just to get a cup of chamomile.
Before you ever get out of bed, come up with three things you’re thankful for–the cardinal that just flew by, a perfect pillow, the fact that you can lie still with not one ache or pain are something to be grateful for.
Keep that door shut in the morning. If you like TV, move one into your bedroom, or better yet, go for some music. Music lifts the spirits almost in an instant.
Take the time to fully dress. Brush your hair, put on your shoes, and dress in real clothes before you ever leave your room. This take charge attitude will set you up for a good day.
Make that bed! Why? So you can leave your door open and see that beautiful room that’s waiting for you at the end of the day. Go outside and pick some greenery and put it in your room. Bringing the outside in is healing.
Keep a journal. Pour your worries, your fears, and even your sweetest memories onto the page. You’ll feel lighter knowing it’s kept in a safe place.
Say your prayers. Talk like your gushing to your best friend (because you are). Ask for a good day. Ask for patience. Ask for strength.
If your day goes south–you lose your temper, you hit a roadblock–take a break and go to your room. Shut the door and find a cozy place to sit. Return to what soothes you–vent in your journal, light a candle, say a prayer, strip off your clothes and take a cool shower to calm down.
Look forward to returning to your room at the end of the day. Imagine that gorgeous color on your walls, your made bed, your journal waiting for you, the music in your CD or iPod player. Imagine yourself walking back in that room, slipping out of your shoes, and letting it all go….
Once your mind comprehends that your bedroom is a “safe place” you can always return to find your center again. These daily morning rituals can literally save your life. They can be your port in your crazy-caregiving storm.