The concept of “balance” infers an equal distribution of the components one is balancing, such as work with relaxation, obligations with options. Unfortunately, the individual whose obligations include both career and caregiving rarely achieve a feeling of balance during the tenure of the caregiving role. Balancing caregiving with career and life can feel like an impossible feat.
Add the need to tend to one’s own mental and physical wellbeing, and take the time to be a friend and the goal of “balance” is soon replaced by the need to simply get everything done one way or another, typically at the cost of the caregiver. At that point, achieving “balance” isn’t even a realistic goal without a decision to give up something.
While there may be work-related alternatives which may provide some relief, such as taking leave from a job, telecommuting, or job sharing, many individuals have work and life situations that these techniques simply don’t accommodate, so the job for which one is paid must be done the way it was done before caregiving responsibilities became necessary.
It is, therefore, up to the caregiver to determine how one’s life must be rearranged to even begin to resemble balance. This typically means taking an inventory of all obligations, especially those that have been self-imposed, and determining which ones must be rearranged–either delegated to others or given up altogether– so that everything ultimately gets done while still accommodating down time for the caregiver.
Doing it all yourself isn’t possible for many people, and although it may feel like hiring help would be either too costly or “selfish,” those assumptions are often incorrect. There are three great options that one should consider:
Approximately two-thirds of all family caregivers also work outside of the home. One characteristic of the type of individual that makes an excellent caregiver is an unrealistic requirement they have of themselves to “do it all.” Unfortunately, as unselfish as it may seem, this superwoman (or man) mentality acts to the detriment of all concerned, even the care recipient. In order to be a really effective caregiver, one’s emotional and physical well-being must be a priority. And the take-charge caregiver who is inevitably feeling overwhelmed by all that is required must now take charge of making changes.