Caregivers need care, too

If you, the caregiver, are sick, burned out, tired, angry, frustrated or overwhelmed, your whole family will be, too. Your physical and emotional state affects everyone else. So you must take care of yourself. You’ll be a better parent if you take care of your own needs and put yourself first once in a while.

Checklist: things to think about

  • What are the biggest stressors in your life?
  • What can you change in your life to find time and energy for renewal?
  • What coping strategies do other caregivers use that might work for you?
  • What can you do to simplify your life?

Checklist: things to practice

  • Write down one thing you want to change and three steps to make it happen
  • When things aren’t going well, remember HALT: Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired— these states can create negative behaviors and high stress. Deal with them immediately
  • Learn to slow down and leave enough time to get places so that you aren’t always in a rush and worried about being late
  • Plan ahead—use the beginning of each week or day to list what you need to do so that you avoid panic and rushing
  • Make those doctor, dentist, eye doctor, or therapist appointments you’ve been putting off
  • Lower your expectations for housekeeping and learn to live with the realities of your life
  • Lower your expectations for holidays—most families don’t have ideal holiday meals and events, even if they appear that way from the outside. Find what works for your family and build simple traditions that will make you and yours happy
  • Don’t neglect to get enough sleep
  • Separate what you need from what you want
  • Make a list of the givens—what you can't change or what you must do. Then make a list of the things you have choices about. Use the first list to accept what you can’t change and the second list to act on what you can
  • Remember that you are not alone—join or build a community of like-minded people.

Find a way to take a break and get a little time away from parenting and caregiving. 

By Rosemary Alexander, PhD, Texas Parent to Parent,