How Caregivers Can Create the Best Possible Holiday for Loved Ones
I grew up with a Mom that pulled out all the stops for the holidays. Our entire house was decorated inside and out from the weekend before Thanksgiving to the weekend after New Year’s. Our house looked like a Hallmark Christmas card.
When my Mom and Dad could no longer bring in the cheer and go all out with the decorations, my sister took over and her house became the winter wonderland.
Later, when my parents couldn’t travel and had moved to an apartment, I became the resident elf under my mother’s watchful eye when she was well enough and able to point out the precise position of the decorations.
Holidays Change as Health Declines
I tried to make the Holidays perfect for my parents as their health declined. Not only did my sis and I try to recreate the decorations, we tried to duplicate the festivities and add to the memories of Holidays past.
In short, we tried to make the holidays bigger and better than ever for our family. As my parents’ health declined, and we began to really lose my Mom to dementia, I think we were driven even more to create award-winning Holidays.
Given that this time of year can create stressful energy around trying to make everything look and feel wonderful, as a caregiver to my parents I became almost desperate to make sure it was the happiest of times.
I felt the spotlight was on me to make it all happen flawlessly. In short, I wanted it all to be perfect and to please and impress everyone in my family.
Don’t Try to Be Perfect
In reality, I know that trying to be perfect causes pressure, anxiety and exhaustion. I was already overwhelmed with caring for my parents and this need to be perfect was threatening to bring me down.
There are many antidotes to caregiver burnout during the holidays such as good sleep, healthy eating, mini breaks and reaching out for help from friends and family. The most effective and compassionate thing I did for myself during one of these Holiday sprints was to stop trying so hard.
My parents were safe and warm and happy with the small things. What difference did it make if the wreath was crooked and the gifts were gift cards I bought during a CVS run for prescriptions?
There was love in the room and joy in the fact that we were all still together. No amount of decorations, lights, wrapping paper or tinsel can duplicate the simple act of caring for those dearest to you. After all, love is the most important gift of all.
Enjoy the Simple Blessings
Enjoy the blessings of togetherness and the true expression of this season: love, joy and peace. If you want to have perfect Holidays, remember that it’s not about the display of joy but the true experience of it.
Take the time to look around you and truly see that nothing is more perfect than when love is in the air. Everyone may not remember the decorations or gifts, but they will remember how you made them feel.
I wish the happiest and healthiest of Holidays to you and your family! Much love.
If you are a caregiver how are you making this holiday season special for the ones you love? Please share your tips in the comments below.
Susanne White is the founder of Caregiver Warrior. She was blessed with the opportunity to care for her parents and ventured out on a journey that would change her life. She blogs about this journey on her website and shares her experience, strength and hope with others so that they too may survive caregiving with grace and empowerment. Follow her on Twitter @CaregiveWarrior and on Linkedin.