By Karen Bromberg
It’s not a secret that caregiving is hard – there are the decisions, the overwhelm, the loneliness, and the stress. And it’s not a secret that normal, typical, non-family caregiving stress skyrockets during major holidays: Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, etc. There’s the shopping, the cleaning, the cooking and let us not forget, the expectations and the added responsibilities.
The additional stress to our already stressful lives, as family caregivers, is enough to make us want to pretend the holidays away.
But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Tips for making holidays less stressful and more fun:
- If you are hosting the holiday meal, how about:
- Batching your work so that, for example the rinsing of veggies and potatoes can be done at the same time; the slicing and dicing done at the same time, and the boiling and sautéing done at the same time? That way you can focus on one thing instead of running around your kitchen like the proverbial “chicken with its head cut off,” spreading your energy out and exhausting yourself.
- Cooking some things ahead of time so that on the day of, all you need to do is defrost?
- Buy ready-made where appropriate: the apple and pumpkin pie from a local bakery; a veggie tray from a local supermarket; side dishes from local specialty shops? Remember, making your life little easier is not a sin.
- Hire a cleaning service. For my money, cleaning services are one of this world’s greatest inventions. Hire someone to do the cleaning, rubbing and scrubbing, leaving your home nice and clean and you with with energy and a non-aching back for when your guests arrive? What’s better than that?
- Delegate aspects of the meal to others. Sacrilege, I know. You like doing the cooking. You enjoy seeing your guests relish what you’ve prepared. I totally get it. But, what if instead of preparing ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING yourself (delicious as it may be), you ask your sister to bring her world class sweet potato casserole, you ask your aunt to bring her fabulous tossed salad, and you ask your brother to bring the apple streusel pie that only he can make? How about making the holiday dinner a kind of potluck? That way you can relax a little and everyone else can get that feeling of pride in watching others gobble up their food.
- Of course, you may decide to let someone else host this year. I know. Sacrilege again. But if you are tired, stressed-out and just plain overwhelmed, what if you let someone else serve you for a change?
- But whatever you do, don’t forget “let gratitude be the attitude.” Whether it’s Thanksgiving or not, whether you decide to host the holiday at your home or not, whether you decide that you’d rather be a guest in someone else’s home instead hosting in your home, the bottom line is to be grateful. It’s so easy to fall into sadness, depression, even despair around the holidays. We remember the way “it used to be” when our loved ones were healthier then before we know it we are in the middle of a black cloud. How about this year instead of focusing on the negative we focus on the positive and all the things we have to be grateful for: the joy our loved ones have brought into our lives, the strength we’ve found in ourselves which allow us to be family caregivers. But, if those don’t feel appropriate, how about being grateful for the clothes on our backs, the food on our plates and the breath in our lungs? In my experience, being grateful is one of the BEST antidotes for depression. Go ahead. Try it. You might just be grateful you did.
Karen Bromberg is the founder of Help You Thru, LLC, an online resource for family caregivers offering resources, relaxation and relaxation techniques to overwhelmed caregivers. Feel free to contact her, either by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or via phone 929-276-2109.