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Caregiver Contest Finalist Bridget: Fit Self-Care In

Aimee Sharp
Author | Shield HealthCare
09/14/18  12:35 PM PST

Bridget C. is from Colorado, and was one of forty finalists chosen out of the over 1,000 entries to our “What Advice Would You Give to a Fellow Caregiver?” Contest. You can find our grand prize and runner up winners here.

What advice would you give a fellow caregiver?

I used to get frustrated, even angry, when friends and family would tell me to “take care of yourself, take some time for yourself.” Resentfully, as the parent of a child with autism who is significantly impaired, and the daughter of my aging father who has been in and out of the hospital this past year, I wondered just how they expected me to find the time to do that. When not caring for one of those two, my time was consumed with work, and day to day activities of running my household. “How thoughtless,” I would think. “I know I need to take care of myself, but you tell me how I can find the time.”

Well, after worrying and working myself to the point where I snapped at my son, and fought with my dad, I knew that it was time to listen.

I couldn’t stop feeling terrible and sad for being frustrated with them but was so drained that I had lost my sense of self, and any optimism. I had to pull it together — but time. The one precious commodity that no one can give me.  What to do about the time, and still take care of me?

Every day, I wake up and make a pot of coffee. Every night, I have a cup of tea. The coffee is my morning break and the tea is my nightcap.

I treated myself to a really nice bag of Kona coffee. Just the idea of something Hawaiian and tropical, associated with a relaxing day near the ocean, sounded appealing. I took my favorite coffee mug, one my son had given me for Mothers’ Day that says, “World’s Nicest Mom” and set it aside. I decided to build my care for myself into my day.

And once a week, I brew that delicious coffee, and use my special mug.

I savor that weekly coffee. I never rush it and always breathe it in, and read my mug, and remember my sweet boy who needs me. It’s small, and it doesn’t take much time out of my crazy schedule. It reminds me that I am important, and a good mom and doing my best, and it makes me feel relaxed. I did the same thing with the tea and bought a tea ball and some loose-leaf tea from a local shop with a lovely relaxing name. Every night, I take the extra minute to use the tea ball and my nice tea, and it feels like the equivalent of a spa day, to be honest. It smells good and is just for me. I don’t have to share it with the kids, or my folks.  It is my treat to me and makes me feel special and relaxed.

I realized I didn’t have to have a spa day, or a “thank you.” By building it into my day and my week, something just for me, I was taking care of myself. I could answer those folks with a smile and say, “I am” with a clear heart and a smile.

When you’re a caregiver, you hold on to the little things in the day to day, the things that other folks take for granted. By turning that around onto myself, I brought it full circle. It didn’t take time, it gave me no guilt, and it gives me a respite that is incredibly welcome and appreciated. It’s a secret I’ve hugged to myself, until now.

It doesn’t always have to be something big or amazing to make a big and amazing difference.  The answer for me always goes back to finding joy in the day to day moments of our lives.  That’s what keeps us all strong and connected and with the courage to welcome another day.

Click here to head to the contest home page and read more advice.

Finalists were selected by the Marketing Team at Shield HealthCare. Those finalists were submitted to a panel of independent judges who picked three grand prize winners and five runners up. The judges included: Sandra Mitchell, Award-winning KCAL 9 news anchor and breast cancer survivor, and the Landers family: actor and comedian David Landers (“Laverne & Shirley”) who is living with MS, his wife Kathy and his daughter Natalie (“The Middle”). Click here to learn more.


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