Caring for the Caregiver
As I’ve shared with this audience before, I’m the caregiver, mom, guardian, et al. for my now 21-year-old son who is on the fetal alcohol spectrum. He lives with me; we work as a team spreading awareness and our journey building on his strengths. Additionally, I’m internationally connected in the FASD community.
It’s not been an easy journey for sure. However, I’d not trade anything about my life because it’s taught me so much about myself, enabled me to heal my own childhood trauma, and made me a better person who I finally dearly love.
I want to speak directly to you caregivers out there around the world. Our needs are often cast aside and our health and well-being suffer because of our responsibilities. However, we must care for ourselves first, or eventually we won’t be here to support and care for the loved one or ones who we’ve been entrusted with. The saying “you can’t pour from an empty cup” is definitely true.
To that end, here are some must do’s I’ve scheduled into my daily life:
1. Get up every morning and be thankful. Give thanks to God or nature or whoever you want for a roof over your head, food to eat, clothing to wear, etc. whatever you’re thankful for. This can be a hard shift if you’re overwhelmed and tired, but believe me, having a thankful heart changes your attitude and the tone for your day.
2. Set timers on your phone and step outside (or into a bathroom, closet or inside your car), and take a breath. Not just any breath, but the kind where you inhale through your nose all the way up into your throat and then breathe it out through your mouth to a count of 20 or 30. Eventually, this will become second nature and you’ll do it often.
3. Schedule time for a walk every single day. If you’re a caregiver you can overlook your own need for exercise or fresh air and movement. However, when you schedule time for a walk to move your body, and also include the person or persons you’re caring for you are also showing them you value yourself and how important exercise is. I schedule this time generally with my son, and he looks forward to it. We talk and connect, watch the squirrels in our neighborhood, see neighbors and exchange hellos, and I model the importance of this activity for my son. It doesn’t really matter how long your walk is. Even if you just go out to the end of your sidewalk and back, it’s a win and your body and I applaud you!
4. Don’t be so hard on yourself. Give yourself grace every single day!
I hope you’ll find some of these tips helpful. I know they’ve changed my life for the better, and they’ve improved my connection with my son. I send you love and light for your journey!
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