The holidays are coming and that means you need to get decorating!
Gotta keep up with the neighbors, gotta make it magical for the kids! If you’re a busy caregiver, the thought of trying to turn your home into a magical winter wonderland can be overwhelming. When will you find the time?
I remember when my kids were small and I wasn’t working. After I put them to bed on Thanksgiving night, they would wake up in the morning to a transformed home, with greenery and twinkling lights all around. Mother of the year. But once I became a caregiver, it was difficult to find the time. Decorating that used to take less than two hours would take days. Eventually my oldest child began taking over a lot of it to help out. I appreciated the help but in the true spirit of caregiving, I also felt guilty that I wasn’t able to do all of the caregiving and maintain my self-titled mother-of-the-year status.
When you take on a caregiving role, you cannot expect that your life will continue on in normal fashion.
There will be interruptions, demands on your time, and stress that will impact the way you normally run your days. It’s idealistic to expect otherwise. But during the holidays, we are bombarded with images of perfectly decorated homes and yards, beautiful baked goods artfully arranged on kitchen counter tops, and gorgeous, color-coordinated wrapped gifts. We want to provide all of this beauty for our loved ones and for ourselves because that feels normal and comforting. That is our own expectation.
Try to look at it this way. When you became a caregiver you chose to become a type of Santa Claus for somebody. Someone had a tremendous need for help and advocacy, and on some level, maybe just a subconscious level, wished for you to come into their life. You answered the call. Now, you might be in a caregiving situation that feels more like an obligation. You might feel like you would never willingly take on this role and you feel stuck. But I believe that on some deeper level this was all part of your plan to be somebody’s answered prayer. You always have a choice and you have chosen to be a caregiver.
You have chosen to bring light, hope, and the greatest gift of all– your time.
Try to make peace with where you are in your life right now and use some of the following tips to get through the holidays.
- Downsize your holiday. Do you really need to put out every decoration that you own? Is it important to compete with your neighbors? Must you bake 12 types of cookies? That isn’t really the point of the holidays. Set out the decorations that bring you the most joy. Don’t stress yourself out by trying to put up too much around your house. Remember you’re going to have to find the time to put it all back after the holidays are over anyway. One strand of lights in the front yard or front window will let the world know you are celebrating the season without vying for a Griswold Family award. And two or three of your favorite cookies are good enough this year.
- Let someone help you. People love to feel helpful and useful. If someone says, let me know what I can do, take them up on it! Suggest they cover some caregiving time for you so you can decorate, bake, shop, exercise, or meditate. Ask them to pick up some items for you when they’re at the store.
- Use modern technology. Do your gift buying and grocery shopping online. Having things delivered to your home will save you time and stress.
- Remember what the holidays are about. They are about love. Whether that includes family, friends, pets, or just you and the person you are caring for, that is love. A deep, spiritual, life-changing love for the ages. When you one day reach a point in your life when you need a caregiver, and you are lucky enough to find someone as caring as you were, you will understand what a tremendous gift that is.
I completely understand if you’re thinking, “But I still want the holidays to be perfect! And I wish I didn’t have to deal with all of the caregiving demands right now.” Of course you feel that way and it’s normal and okay. But keep in mind that this time will pass. You will likely not regret that you gave as much as you did and made the sacrifices that you did.
Wishing you a peaceful holiday season ahead,