Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Caregiver stress--What do I do about it? pt. 4

My next suggestion is probably the most difficult and frustrating to follow.

8. Be flexible.

When I was a young bride (I'm an old bride now) we used to joke about my I.L.T. This with a piece of note paper that contained a list of chores I hoped to accomplish in a day. At the end of the day, the more items crossed off, the better I felt. I.L.T. stood for Impressive List of Things, and it kept me on track during the day. Not a bad thing, it produced focus. The problem came when the I.L.T. became my god, and accomplishing the only thing worthwhile in a day. The goal was to have a crossed-off list to display for my husband at the end of the day. Anything, children, phone calls, interruptions of any kind (even a friend dropping over) became a hindrance. What was a useful tool became a ball and chain. 

It took many years to learn to be flexible. When I became a caregiver, I discovered a whole new level of this trait. 

Caregivers learn flexibility in many ways:
  •  getting someone dressed and ready for the day can be a full day's accomplishment.
  •  unplanned moments of clarity or fun are more valuable that a vacuumed floor. 
  •  my agenda may not be the best one. 
  • I can ask for help for some of the things I need to accomplish. 
  •  I am not defined by what I accomplish. (That's a great life lesson, by the way, and one I still struggle with on occasion)
If you are a caregiver, realise that an I.L.T. can cause you great stress. Look at your day, and decide what absolutely must be done, what needs to be done by you and where you can get help, what can wait until tomorrow and what can wait indefinitely.

Here's another thought. Start your day with prayer, and ask God how to order your day. You'll be amazed how priorities fall into place.

A shorter post this week. Next week, I want to talk about maintaining a sense of humour. Hold onto your hats, folks--I have stories!


  1. I'm so glad caregivers are sharing their stories. You have nailed this one. I, too, was a caregiver for my mom. The things which frustrated me most was thinking that I was accomplishing nothing after I evaluated each day's jobs left undone.

    In retrospect, the lesson learned is that what seemed urgent at the time was fogging the true defining moments of privilege, honor and value in caring for the one who had given me birth. Now, I smile at those moments--few and far between--of my mom who loved me well.

  2. Thanks, Ann! I need to remember this..........