EATON — The Holidays. The six weeks stretching from Thanksgiving through the revelry of New Years can be difficult for caregivers.
We tend to carry holiday memories close to our hearts. We place a lot of pressure on ourselves to meet or exceed these high expectations and continue traditions, especially for the enjoyment of youngsters and others. The mix of generations and the countless needs of each leave minimal time for caregivers to think of their own needs.
As a caregiver, what can you do to keep the holidays special and take care of yourself as well as your loved one? Here are some thoughts:
• Pass the torch. Maybe the time has come to celebrate the holidays in a way that fits your life as it is now. It may be a perfect time to ask someone in the next generation to make those “Christmas cookies” that you are famous for.
• Start a new tradition. What if you find a funny, imperfect and touching holiday movie and make it a part of your celebration each year? Movies like “Elf”, “A Christmas Story”, “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” or “Merry Christmas, Mr. Bean” are favorites of many families and some have important lessons in them.
• Be thankful. Usually, before we can be thankful, we have to come to accept where we are in life. Often, there are circumstances that we would love to change and many that we never anticipated, but it’s where we are. If we accept it, then we can work our way toward expressing some gratitude. Maybe this gratitude is only that we are learning and growing from our hardships and setbacks. But even slight feelings appreciation can help improve our attitude and help us see what is really important.
• Communicate with your loved ones. Even small children can understand, if they are told in a loving way, that your time is short or you have to cut corners because Grandpa or Grandma and other family members rely on you, too. Helping the entire family understand that each person’s desires are important but that you have a lot on your plate can help keep their expectations more realistic. Having this conversation with the family may even inspire them to lend a hand.
• Simplify your plans and enjoy what truly matters. Forgive yourself for the scant decorations, one less kind of cookie and the skipped Christmas cards. In fact, congratulate yourself! Remind yourself that your health and sanity are a gift to yourself and your loved ones. By skimping on some of the frills or changing traditions, your family will have more quality time with you.
Happy Thanksgiving, Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year!
Please remember to take care of yourself so you can care for your loved one!
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