Caregiver work-life balance often takes a back seat to work responsibilities, your senior’s health, and other life tasks. But in all honesty, it should be a priority. Sure, you might feel confident about your overloaded to-do list at first, but soon you’ll start to feel out of balance both physically and mentally. Unlike some other jobs, caregivers often develop an emotional connection and it can be harder to separate work and life.
6 Tips for Caregiver Work-Life Balance
1. Schedule things in advance
To make life a little bit easier, schedule doctor appointments or any other obligations in advance. Get it out of the way and avoid the stress of making last minute arrangements. Of course, you won’t be able to plan everything ahead of time, but you’ll thank yourself later for scheduling plans early when you can. As they say, expect the unexpected, so try not to get too overwhelmed when something doesn’t go as planned.
2. Talk to your boss
If you’re a caregiver in addition to working another job, have a conversation with your boss. It can be hard to manage work requirements as a caregiver, but it’ll benefit both you and the company to be proactive instead of reactive. The company might offer leave for caregiving duties or other flexible scheduling options. Caregiving can act as a second full-time job, even if you’re not doing it 40 hours/week. When you “clock out,” sometimes you still carry those responsibilities in your head and it can be hard to have a caregiver work-life balance.
3. Stay organized
How can you possibly keep track of one more person’s commitments when you have your own, your family’s, and your work’s? Get organized! You can make lists, use a calendar or planner (or multiple), and keep track of everything you need. There should also be a designated space in yours or your loved one’s house for paperwork, so you know where everything is. When you schedule things in advance like we suggested above, write it down on your calendar right away so you don’t forget about it. You can also keep your senior’s prescriptions organized by using a pill organizer and outlining what gets taken on what days for when it’s time to refill. There are even apps for caregivers that put all the information in one place.
4. Take some “me time”
Seriously, you’ll need a break every so often, so don’t try to fight it. If you don’t take any time for yourself, you’ll increase your chances of caregiver burnout and only make things worse. Whether you spend the day alone just relaxing, or choose to hang out with your family or adult friends, do something that will help you unwind. Spa days are great opportunities for “me time” and to clear your head. If you’re worried about your loved one’s care, ask for help from another family member or you can look into respite care for a short period of time.
5. Draw the line
We all know the saying, “don’t take your work home,” but it’s easier said than done. This is one of the most important tips for maintaining a caregiver work-life balance. When you do get to be home and relax, try not to worry about your senior or overthink anything that you did earlier. It can also be beneficial to completely unplug when you’re away from work and caregiving. Put down your phone, stay off your laptop, and just enjoy your time off, since you probably don’t have too much of it. If you find yourself constantly worrying and never really getting a break, maybe it’s a sign that it’s time to reach out for help.
6. Keep up with your hobbies
You might feel like you don’t have time to keep up with your hobbies, but you should make time. Not only will it give you a chance to enjoy yourself, but it’ll also help maintain your sense of identity. Always doing things for others is great, but sometimes you lose yourself in the process. Whether it’s reading, playing sports or being active, or creating art, don’t let it become a pastime.