National Nursing Home Week is coming up May 8-14 and I wanted to speak a little bit about caregiving, as it is close to my heart.

My husband was diagnosed with MS at the age of 28. We had just been married for 2 years. Thus began my journey as a caregiver … and a few years later, a mom to two wonderful girls. Different stages of illness require different amounts of caregiving. It can go up and down day to day, week to week or month to month. Regardless, it is a constant rollercoaster that caregivers ride.

Caregiving is NOT easy. I joke that I am much better at building a business than I am at caregiving. I get impatient quickly and I am always wanting to “fix” the situation and sometimes you just can’t. I find myself trying to read into how Jim (my husband) is doing, guess what his next move is, and race him to it to make it a little easier on him.

Where has that gotten me? Well, I personally think we caregivers don’t give ourselves enough credit. My mom is always telling me I have more on my shoulders than others. Do I? I always respond by saying, “We all have stuff we are dealing with.” Regardless of who has the most “stuff” to deal with, the important part is that we are taking care of ourselves first, in order to have the capacity to help others. Yes, the airlines have it right when they say, “Please put your mask on first, before assisting others.”

At 44 years of age, I am really feeling the last 18 years of this caregiving rollercoaster, and taking care of myself has becomes a MUST. WARNING: If you are not used to taking care of yourself first, you might get flack from people around you … keep doing it! Taking care of myself has started with baby steps, which I take until they become comfortable and part of my routine. Then I move on. I have created a list of those baby steps that have helped me (located at the bottom of this blog), which are in no particular order. If you are a caregiver to a loved one or as a profession, ask yourself what you are doing for “ME,” and if you have a hard time answering, maybe pick one from the list and try it out.

Also, please click here for more information on caregiving week and fun activities around the celebration of caregivers. If you are a caregiver or work with caregivers, I have a deal for you as well! As the owner of Pacific Perks Coffee, LLC, we specialize in celebrating people and would like to offer a $25 discount off any 2 hour event May 8-14th. When you book your event, have your staff nominate a well-deserved caregiver and we will put them in a drawing for a FREE pound of our signature, locally-roasted coffee!

Baby Steps for Caregivers working toward Self-Care

Walk 3x per week
Wake up early to have time to yourself
Have a cup of coffee, mediate, exercise, journal, watch the sunrise … whatever you enjoy.
Create a sacred space in your home for just you
Connect with friends that only lift you up
Get out in nature
Listen to a podcast! My favorite right now: Karen Osburn: Women Wanting More
Go to breakfast on your own
Get a dog
Walk your dog
People-watch at a park/dog park
Watch guilty pleasure TV
Subscribe to People magazine (or one that takes you away)
Cherish your down time and don’t feel bad about it
Limit your commitments
Find your passion again and incorporate it into your life
Pay for a massage monthly; it’s worth it!
Try out Eyelash extensions – yes, I love them!

-From the desk of Natalie Fairchild


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