The Caregiver Struggle is Real – This is My Action Plan for 2020

At the end of 2019, I realized that I was about to turn 40. You’d think that I already knew that this milestone birthday was coming, but the realization hit me like a truck. I did an introspective evaluation and decided that some things in our life needed to change. Some things I have the ability to change with support – while other things I’m putting out into the world and hoping that someone, somewhere has some ideas.

  • Weight Management – It’s no secret that I love to cook (and eat), and my poison is carbohydrates and portioning. For some time, I have seen certain numbers in my blood work moving in a direction that I was not happy with. Nothing was wrong with my blood work, but it wouldn’t be that way for much longer. I’m a caregiver and a mother, which means that my responsibilities to others usually overshadow the responsibilities I have to care for myself. And while caring for the people that I love is of the highest priority, I too am someone that I love. So, I’m working (with support) to help improve my own health. I found a tool that is easy to use and I’m committed to seeing those lab work numbers decline. What happens to everyone else if something terrible happens to me – something terrible that I could have prevented?
  • Home Modifications – This is one of the things that I need a lot of help with. I know zero things about home modifications, other than what I think we need for my darling. What I really need is a designer or engineer who specializes barrier free design and we haven’t quite found the right person/people. Does this magic human exist who can come in and just do what needs to be done? Would it be one unicorn human or several people? Is it possible to live with a disability, in a barrier free home, without an overwhelming financial burden attached to the modifications? Why is this stuff so complicated and expensive? Wouldn’t it be wonderful if a group like HGTV or Chip & Joanna Gaines worked with the MS Society or the Multiple Sclerosis Foundation to develop some blueprints (based on certain square footage requirements) that people in need of barrier free design could just download and take to a general contractor?
  • Declutter, Organize, Tidy – My mom would probably scoff at my efforts, but it’s time. My parents visited over the holidays, and on one evening in particular we were expecting severe weather with the possibility of hail. Our garage is a repository for everything we aren’t using “at this moment” and there was only room for one car. So, in the middle of getting all of our Christmas décor put away, my dad (bless his heart) also helped me organize and tidy the garage enough that I could squeak the second car in for protection. It didn’t hail. I was annoyed. But then I wasn’t – because my garage is so neat and tidy! So, I’ve slowly started to declutter and organize our storage spaces and closets. Don’t ask me if I watched the show Tidying Up with Marie Kondo – the answer is no. I won’t ask myself questions about whether particular items are giving me joy. Insert eye roll here. Bonus though – the hallway closet is no longer a storage area for kid crap, and the kids can actually hang their jackets in there instead of tossing them on the floor as they trample in after school.
  • Practicing Self-Compassion – I need a lot of help with this because beating myself up about the little things is easier than coming to terms with some of the big things happening in our life. Having a fatalist kind of attitude when the going gets tough also helps me justify giving up too quickly, surrendering to that feeling of helplessness. Working on getting healthier is a long-game strategy, I know this in my head, but old habits are easy to fall into when things are hard or when you’re hurting. I need to be better about accepting the small blips, seeing them for what they really are, allowing myself to wallow for a short while and then get back up on that horse. It’s easy to tell yourself these things, it’s harder to do them. I’m so thankful for supportive family and incredibly amazing friends who lift me (and us) up when we need a minute to catch our breath.

Now tell me – where are you struggling? Have you found a solution that helps? It’s always easier to cope with difficult challenges when we know we aren’t alone.

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Wife, mother, writer, and caregiver. If you're here for support and caregiving life hacks, you've come to the right place.

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