Caregiving and Time Management

When you are a caregiver, it can be almost impossible to find time for everyday tasks, never mind making time to pursue a dream. For the purposes of any conversation on this blog, let’s make it clear parents with children are included. Mine are in their mid to late 20s now, but it’s not so long ago, I forgot what it’s like to raise a heathen or two, whose sole purpose in life seems to be pushing all your hot buttons. Children are supposed to be learning autonomy and responsibility as they grow, but let’s face it. It’s a challenge you enter for the long haul, and the challenges change as they grow.

Most people, caregivers or not, will say they don’t have enough time in the day. So, where do you start when you decide to pursue a dream? Some might advise giving yourself permission to pursue it. OK, it’s as good a place as any, I guess. But once you have done that, you have to give it a place on your priority list. Where it goes will depend on the complication factor. Is it a dream which can be achieved in a few short steps, or will it require a long-term commitment? Do you need the support of others to help you reach your goals, including members of your household? If it all possible, reciprocate for others. They will be far more willing to support your dreams if you do the same.

The KISS principal (Keep It Simple Stupid) and “work smarter, not harder” also have to be part of the equation. If you can’t simplify your life a bit and learn to do things more efficiently, it becomes even harder to pursue your dreams.

Nix the distractions too. Spending all your spare moments on an electronic device burns a lot of time you could use to pursue something truly meaningful to you. Turn it off, or at least mute it, then leave it somewhere else while you are working on that dream.

For those of you just starting out with families and looking for that first home, I implore you to think of the long haul. Like everything else, there are no guarantees these days you will be able to follow the old advice of buying a starter home, and moving up or down, as your needs change. We have a two-story house, with upstairs bedrooms, which we have now lived in more than 19 years. After Karl’s accident in 2006, those stairs became an issue, and remember he’s not an old man.

Every change we make to this house, I insist on durable materials that are easy to care for. Yardwork? Who needs it? I wouldn’t mind growing a garden again, but my idea of a growing bed doesn’t require me to get on my knees or bend over. Though this is not an endorsement, Gardner’s Supply offers some I like quite a bit. Don’t forget cost of home ownership over the long haul, either. Taxes go up more frequently than down, and a big house costs a lot more to maintain as it ages. Not to mention the amount of time it will suck up. If you are holding off on pursuing a dream until the kids leave the house, do you want to sacrifice it for chores?

How about the house of the future? Eh, I’m not quite sold on that one, partly because I don’t want so much of my life run by my phone or the internet. Our younger daughter got us two Echo Dots for Christmas last year, which we do use to communicate between upstairs/downstairs. Occasionally, the crazy things light up when no one is talking to them. It’s freaky, I tell you. (For a good laugh, ask the darn thing if it’s possessed.)

While I would love to have a Roomba, we have seven animals in this house, which also includes 3 dogs. I swear their sole purpose in life is to leave hair on every surface. The rabbits shed as well, and their fuzz is so light, I call it angel hair. Because it floats. Unless the Roomba can not only keep all the hair off the floor, but vacuum my vaulted ceiling, light fixtures and stairs as well, I don’t see spending money on one yet. Besides, I’m afraid after five minutes here, it would be like the robot broom of Warner Bros. house of the future, and quit within five minutes. Right now, there is a big fat cobweb hanging down over the stairs, off the beam that supports our vaulted ceiling. I swear that bugger is mocking me. I’ll take a crack at it with the long-handled Swiffer first. If that doesn’t reach it, I may have to resort to one of our Little Giant style ladders. Except those are heavy.

Don’t forget meal planning and cooking. I love leftovers, and casseroles made in a 9×13 inch pan can last us 4-5 days. Between meals for days, when I want something low-key, I often resort to baked potatoes. Stuffed of course, making them a meal. Our main favorite involves broccoli, bacon and cheese sauce. However, BBQ brisket takes the tater to a whole other level. For those starch-a-phobes, sweet potatoes are a fine substitute for Russets. Someone here doesn’t like sweet potatoes, but I’m not naming names. I figure if the humble spud is good enough for Hobbits, it’s good enough for us. “You know, Po-ta-toes! Mash ‘em, boil ‘em, put ‘em in a stew!”

In the interest of honesty, I will admit I sometimes achieve my writing goals by ignoring the housework. There were a few times I spent nearly a full day writing, because I was on a hot streak. Unfortunately, I succeeded in giving myself a few nasty headaches. Meaning I learned the hard way to set limits for the amount of time I spend on the computer. I keep notebooks handy to jot down ideas or changes I wish to make, because my mind frequently doesn’t shut off while I’m doing other things. In fact, I swear it’s while I’m doing chores, I get my best ideas. (I was cleaning rabbit cages when I decided to take another crack at my book.) Yeah, yeah, I know paper is old school. It still has the occasional advantage; doesn’t freeze or crash, no batteries to die, can’t be hacked, and it’s easier on the eyes. You don’t have to be a writer to keep an idea notebook. We use them for a variety of projects. Paper is great for lists too. There is nothing more satisfying than physically scratching off an item or two.

What are your dreams, and your time management strategies for achieving them? Feel free to comment below.

Quote of the Week

In honor of deer hunters since it’s opening weekend…

Beware of wooly boogers seeking popcorn for movie night.

Kristal DeJong

2 thoughts on “Caregiving and Time Management

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