I am not going to lie. This past week was HARD. Quite possibly one of the hardest of my life. Something about parenting a small child while being far away from my own ailing mama plus the reality of our situation settling in and really making itself known. And let’s not forget the seemingly never ending cold virus.
Today I offer you some tips on taking care of yourself while in the middle of taking care of the people you love.
[DISCLAIMER: I am not a medical professional and if you are in crisis please seek immediate medical attention from a medical professional.]
A vast majority of these helpful ideas were crowd-sourced from my Facebook friends, many of whom have experienced parenting while caring for their own parents through long-term illness and transitioning into end of life.
I offer these tips to you because they’ve already begun to help me. If you have a secret self-care tip to share, please message me. I am all ears.
And you don’t even have to do all of them to feel better.
1. Reach out. Friends, family, loved ones, your primary care doctor, a therapist, a support group. Any and all of these can be helpful. A text, a phone call, a Facebook message. Isolating yourself is not the answer. No one can go through crisis alone, so please ask for help or at least let people know you need help.
We are programmed as humans to need connection and one of our basic human needs is to tend and befriend not just fight and flight. So reach out.
The number one thing take away from friends is we can’t do it alone. Ignoring our own needs and those of our immediate family does not help anyone – not you and not your ailing loved one.
2. Accept help when it is offered. I struggle with this, but I am trying to change that because I am finally understanding you can’t do it alone. If people offer you dinner, take it. If someone you trust offers childcare, take it.
6. Let people physically comfort you. Embracing long hugs and hand holding and letting yourself cry in front of others.
7. Recharge your batteries. Go on a walk, hit the gym, take a yoga class
8. Nap. Rest until you are better.
9. Sleep. We’re all just giant two year olds without it.
10. Laugh. Some people watch funny movies. I like to exchange ridiculous comments on friends’ Facebook statuses – usually on Friday nights. Because we old, but we are still funny as hell.
11. Stay away from negative media/the “news”.
12. Cry. Watch a sad movie and cry it out. Ugly cry on purpose.
13. Let your kid watch TV sometimes. And don’t feel guilty about it. (We’ve been loving Sid the Science Kid, Elmo’s Potty Time and Little Einsteins. Someone else recommended Kipper for its mellow vibe).
14. Keep a gratitude journal to keep perspective that not every single thing in your life sucks. Take time to add five small things that delighted you each day. I’ve been doing this on and off for years and it has made a huge impact on my happiness.
15. Silly play with your kid. We’ve been puddle splashing and mud stomping lately and while dirty (and gross) little girl has been lit up like a Christmas tree. And in turn, I’ve laughed and played and felt good about connecting with my kid.
16. Solo movie watching during the day. With popcorn. At home or the theater.
17. Eat soup.
18. Eat chocolate – if that’s your thing. Apparently it’s my peeps’ thing. Lots of chocolate on my list.
19. Read a lot.
6 Ways To Reach Out To People Who Are Hurting:
1. Offer to Skype with a friend if you are out of town or scheduling makes it impossible to get together face to face. While it doesn’t allow for hugging, talking to another human’s face is remarkably comforting.
2. Offer to babysit their kids. Nothing is more helpful than someone else taking your kid for an hour or two for fun. Especially if the parents are struggling with depression and fun isn’t on the forefront of their minds (but they still manage to feel terrible about it).
3. Offer to cook them a meal or pick their kids up from school or get them coffee. Families struggling with the basics of life need help with the basics. So if you’ve got an extra batch of veggie soup in your freezer, offer it up. When we first returned from picking up our kiddo, the last thing on our minds was food. And then like magic it appeared on our front porch and I never felt more loved or cared for.
4. Offer to take them to the gym or on a walk or run or yoga class. People need physical activity and to get the ickies out and yet they might be stuck in the caring for others instead of themselves loop.
5. Stop by to give your person a hug. Maybe bring a treat (or not), but hugging them longer than they want to be hugged.
6. Listen and allow people to just be sad without having an solution at the ready. Just being a shoulder to cry on.
Please leave any tips you have used in the comments below.