How To Get Back To Life – Part 2 – For Carers And Non-Carers!
Welcome to the second part of my article on how to get back to life for people who are Carers, but also non-Carers who feel run off their feet through circumstances seemingly beyond their control. As a Carer myself, I was finding it difficult to separate time for me to have a meaningful and fulfilling life outside my role as a Carer. I had many plans, ideas and dreams, but no time left by the end of the day. I developed a way to gain control over my time again, for the most part, and hope that you too, will be able to apply it to your own situation. A little adjustment here and there should go a long way to suiting your own circumstances.
In the first article, we discussed how easily your time can be spent up, how many of you feel life wasting away, how you feel that life has left you behind. We know that exhaustion can cause your thinking to be murky, but to quit would be like abandoning your loved one. We looked at how guilt plays a huge part in your decision making and how you can stop that. We were reminded about human needs, and discovered what we wanted and what we didn’t want. We talked about how we can’t change a person, but how you can change the way you think and how you can begin to look at your Carer (or Non-Carer) role as if it were a job.
How To Work Out Your Boundaries
Now that you are starting to understand your role for what it really should be, the steps are easier to bring about the change to get your life back on track.
1. Make A List
Sit down and think about what you do as a Carer. Write a list of duties and times you do it. It doesn’t matter how small. Do it all at once, or take your time.
Detaching Was Easier Than I Thought
I detached myself and treated it like I was writing a job description for someone else. I was surprised at what I included on it. It made me realise I was being taken for granted with many tasks and how much of my time was spent doing them.
It also helped me to see how many little tasks take up a lot of my time sporadically.
2. Isolate Times
Next, see if you can isolate large areas of time that you do the most amount of work in. In other words, when they seem to need you the most. Consider the time in hours it takes, and the times of day this falls into. There’s an example of how I did my own further down. This will be the basis from which you form your new schedule.
3. Chunk It
You may find that early mornings and afternoons are the largest chunks of time spent doing your Carer role. Place this in a rough framework so you can see which time slots could be used the most wisely and time effectively, and then make that chunk of time part of a timetable.
Add To This The ‘Small Things’
Look at the ‘little’ jobs that you do that take up your time but don’t take long enough to cause them to be chunked into a single large block of time. With a little planning and re-thinking how many of these could be fit into the larger chunks of time over a period of a week? As an example, I do the laundry for my daughter and her family. I now do this over the course of the week instead of all in one day, and it fits into the larger chunked blocks of time. I’ve been able to do this with many of these smaller tasks. The more you can fit into these chunked hours, the more time you will find you have spare.
If It’s Not Urgent, Don’t Do It!
There may still be little things that were not taken into account that are urgent, so there would need to be some flexibility, but keep your boundaries. If it is not urgent, do not do it outside of your planned Carer hours.
4. Now The Important Part – You!
This is very important. What you would like to do in the time that you free up for yourself. Write your ideas down. Do you want to work, study, play, go to a movie, have a bath, visit a friend? List anything you would like to start doing.
Looking at the now chunked Carer hours, find the gaps between, where you can start fitting in some ‘me’ time. The more hours you can free up in chunks, the easier it will be to have your life back. Add them to your new schedule so that it becomes clearer to everyone, when you will be available and when you won’t.
Putting it on your schedule depicts that you are taking your needs seriously. If they try to steal back that time. Be firm, “Free Time is still Me Time” and not negotiable.
Here’s A Basic Representation Of My Own!
Above is an example of how I put my own schedule together. I have planned Carer Work hours, blocked out in pink, and I have planned Other Work hours, blocked out in green. I was able to place many of the smaller duties into the larger block of time so that I save time elsewhere.
I Am Still Doing More Than Enough!
Even doing it this way I still end up doing 50 – 60+ hours a week as a carer. But funnily enough, it feels like less.
Sh*t Happens, So They Say!
Things can go awry, your Carer role may change at times, or unexpected appointments pop up etc. But as long as the other days stay on track, or you can get back on track as soon as possible, you are still way ahead of how you were living before. On the whole, it’s a good system and it’s working. I came across a few other problems like this and wrote them, and how to deal with them, into my book.
How To Help Them Understand.
If this last part of my article seems very brief due to trying to reduce the ideas down to fit into an article, be assured that the topics are further elaborated upon in my book.
While it is a basic human right to have a life and free time for yourself, which shouldn’t need explaining to anyone, you may find it helpful to offer your reasons.
For me, I was depleted, no energy left for anything and my health had been suffering for quite some time. I was facing the difficult decision to give up my Carer role or crash and burn and my daughter would be left with no Carer anyway.
Find a good time to broach the subject and go from there. So far it has all been about them and what they need, and you have not looked after yourself. So as long as they are made aware that you have had to make some choices and that your decisions will be of most benefit to them, they should be open to that conversation.
Did They Get The Idea Yet?
Remind them that you need to look after yourself so you can keep on looking after them and how it will impact on what care you can offer if you don’t look after your needs as well.
Still Don’t Get It?
If they are still resistant give them the cold hard facts
- You have taken their needs into consideration before thinking of your own
- The other options are not at all favorable to them
Please Don’t Do This!
I DO NOT condone or suggest any use of this to exert control over the person you care for. This is not about bullying or making threats to bend a person to your will. It is about regaining your life so that you can continue your caring role so that both parties can be happy.
Instead, Do This
Ask them what problems they are having with the ideas you have presented. Is there room in your schedule to accommodate whatever burning need they feel is being neglected. If their fear is legitimate, can you alter your plan slightly to account for this fear? Reassure them that their needs are still going to be met. You’ve just shuffled things around a little and that in the larger scheme, things have not really changed for them all that much, you are just being more time effective.
Is That A “Not Yet” I’m Hearing?
If they are still fighting you, express again what hours you are officially expected to work in your carer job, and remind them that you do far more than that. Would they work for the same pay you do and put in as many hours?
If you are choosing to do other work, let them know that money is tough and you want to increase your income so that you can still remain at home to care for them, but right now, funds are so limited it affects your own quality of life.
Announce You Have Rights Too – Rights To Time Off For Work, Study And Play
Bring their attention back to the following facts;
- Carers are entitled to days off just like anyone else
- Carers can work or study for up to 25 hours per week without having to ask their permission
- Carers can take leave of up to 63 days per year (check your own country’s conditions).
How About Now – Are They Starting To Piece It Together?
Providing them the perspective of the ‘two’ job idea, reminds them that there is a time slot for them and a time slot for when you will be working. Your timetable gives them a picture of how you will be spending your time.
Again, you may need to be a little flexible in case of unexpected occurrences.
What To Do If They Forget Or Cross The Boundaries Again
What should you do if they start getting cranky and accusing you of not caring about them during the times you are meant to be free?
- Redirection – to the timetable and your set hours.
- Flexibility – be flexible but firm, understanding and caring, but don’t let them steal your time for unnecessary tasks.
- Have an accessible timetable – so you can easily maintain those boundaries
What Results Am I Getting?
It’s amazing. I don’t hate my role at all anymore. I actually look forward to being able to ‘work’ in the hours that I have set for being a Carer. I no longer begrudge it because there is a start time and a finish time. What doesn’t get done one day, will get finished the next. I don’t beat myself up about anything.
I have set aside time for me for therapy, social fun, business, study and fitness.
All in all, I don’t think I could have planned it any better.
Get Back To Life The Guilt Free Way!
If you are looking at how to get back to life for yourself, no matter what circumstances you are facing, please consider using this mind set and modify your perspective. I adjusted the way I looked at being a Carer, turned it into a job, and suddenly everything changed. I gave myself permission to count the duties I do no matter how small they are, have time off, to work on my goals, and I have found a guilt-free way to do so. It can only get better from here.
I would love to hear how you have been able to implement these ideas into your own life, so that you too, can get back to life. Please let me know by commenting how you found these suggestions and if they worked for you. If you have any questions, please leave them in the comments below. If something isn’t quite working for you, please ask here so that others may be able to help you see another way around it.
You Never Know What Will Happen In TIME
I truly believe we can all find a way to achieve what we want. Each person will be facing different time constraints, but don’t give up on this idea. Work with it, work around it, fiddle with time.
We can’t all have a T.A.R.D.I.S like Doctor Who. Wouldn’t that be an idea? To travel back in time just so that we can fit everything in or at least do everything over.
However, with a little time manipulation, see what you can come up with. It HAS to be better than what you are doing now.
I’d like to say good luck with it but I have chosen not to, because that implies there is a chance of failure. Instead I will say your future awaits, you need only to reach out for it and grab it.
Thank you for reading and I hope that life has just become incredible for you.
PS Get my book for more great ideas and information!