Is time management even possible if you can’t control your schedule?

As a caregiver, mom, and busy professional, I often found that organizing and managing my time was a futile practice. I love calendars, to-do lists, and organizing my days, but so many times something would happen and my time would go from managed to misplaced!

“Where did the time go (and why am I so tired?!)”

 

So is it really possible to reclaim our time when so much of it is spent on care of others, what they need and when they need it? 

 

While we certainly cannot predict the unpredictable things in life and caregiving, I do believe that we can reclaim our time so that we can give some of it back to the things in our lives we’ve been missing. Our own self-care, for example, but also time for our other relationships and connections outside of our caregiving role.

 

While time management as a caregiver is possible, it’s essential to go beyond traditional approaches and explore strategies that empower you to truly reclaim your schedule.

In my personal self-care journey and in my work with other caregivers, I’ve learned that personal advocacy, collaboration, and communication are all key to not just managing your time but reclaiming it as YOUR time so that you can incorporate your self-care practices and take back control of your health and your life.  

 

Time management is not just about being more organized, it is an act of self-care. Studies have shown that effective time management reduces stress and gives you increased energy. It also allows you “time” for the things that you enjoy! 

 

However, knowing that managing your time would be beneficial and actually making it happen are two different things. It can be overwhelming to think about adding “work on time management” to that to-do list that never gets done.

 

So, why don’t we start with time awareness before we get to time management. Maybe you have time that you aren’t acknowledging. I used to do this. I would get through an entire day and not be able to tell you what I did or how I made it to the end of the day! I was exhausted and overwhelmed. I began to become more aware of the smallest moments in every day that were just for me. Like my shower when I was brushing my teeth. (And, real talk, sometimes only one of those things was happening in a given day!)

When I recognized those small pockets of time, I turned them into my Mindful Moments. I allowed myself to turn off the running to-do list in my brain, I focused on the water in the shower, the smell of the soap. I took deep breaths and expressed gratitude for the moment, perhaps the only one I would have that day. 

As you begin to think about reclaiming your time, before you even touch your to-do list, look at what you are doing, in the present moment.

When that moment is something you are doing for yourself: bathing, eating, making your bed (I know, I don’t make mine either, but some people love this!), claim that time as YOURS! These are not big tasks, but small pockets, mindful moments, and they belong to you. 

 

Once you begin to honor the moments of time as you become aware of them, you are going to crave more of them! This is where the fun begins! Perhaps you notice you love getting ready for the day, or your evening routine. Or maybe, as you’re eating lunch and mindfully claiming that as your time, you remember how much you used to love cooking, and you long to start doing that again. In order to stretch out your morning or evening routine, or create space in your schedule for cooking a meal, you’ll need more time.

Here’s the thing about “more time.” No one is going to give it to you.

Instead, my friend, you will have to take it, speak up for it, and advocate for the time you need, you want, and you deserve.

As caregivers and women, we spend a lot of time nurturing others, practicing hospitality, and of course, advocating for the needs of our loved ones and/or children. But what about YOU? Who is advocating for you? While I am your biggest champion, I cannot go around personally to every caregiver and advocate for your personal time. You will have to do that. (But I am here cheering you on!) One of the ways this has shown up for me is that I wanted to be home in the evenings with my family. My kids are older and have their own things going on, so it wasn’t necessarily about all of us sitting down at the table for dinner, but I wanted to establish time for myself to be present in my home and available to my family…for conversation, for connection, or just the comfort of knowing that I wasn’t running around frantically trying to get things done.  This meant I had to start speaking up for myself in regard to my caregiving. I was not going to be running caregiving errands in the evening. Even if my kids were in and out of the house. Even if my husband was out of town. What I do with that time I have carved out is up to me. But I focus on presence, non-rushed mindset, and, over time, my family knows to expect me there. I feel comfort in that and, I think, so do they.  

 

Advocating for your time requires boundary-setting AND keeping the boundaries you set. It means you will have to communicate how things will be different and be prepared to do this often until the new pattern gets established. And there’s one more thing that has to happen to build your self-advocacy “muscle”…you have to be prepared for the guilt. Ugh, I know, I wish I could tell you that when you start to stick up for your time and yourself, your loved one and other family members will be thrilled. Of course, that may happen, but often a change in your expectations doesn’t change other people’s expectations of you. Either implicitly or explicitly, their disappointment comes through. And their disappointment often turns into your guilt. In coming weeks, I’ll have much to say about getting rid of guilt, but the first thing to do is know that guilt will come and it’s ok to acknowledge it. “Whew, I feel guilty for not going over to mom’s tonight.” Acknowledge the feeling, but don’t let it change your behavior. “I am still going to stay home this evening. This is my time and my choice.” And then…repeat and repeat. 


The more you establish this new time for yourself, the easier it will become to maintain the time. As you begin to see the benefits of reclaiming your time, you will start to look for other ways you can continue to take back what has always been yours…the time you have every day.

 

Ok, you might be saying to yourself, “but if I don’t do this thing or if I am not there then [insert necessary caregiving task] won’t happen! I have no choice!” I want you to know that I see you and hear you. But let’s reframe this. It may be true that your loved one needs constant supervision and attending to. Yes. But just because they need that level of care, does not mean that you have to be the only one providing it. It also doesn’t mean that you don’t need YOUR own level of care and attention. One person’s need for care doesn’t override everyone else’s. We are all worthy of care. 

 

What if you started to believe this? Really believe that your care is just as important as your loved one’s care? What would change for you?

Maybe you would begin seeking more support to care for your loved one, to care for you. It may be time to sit down with other family members involved in your loved one’s care and delegate tasks differently. Or, if you don’t have the support of family, it may be time to look into services provided by your loved one’s insurance, local caregiving organizations, or a church or non-profit program. Reaching out for support not only helps you continue to facilitate caregiving but also gives you a voice and space to create more time for your self-care. 

 

Ultimately, your time management as a caregiver comes down to clarifying your capacity for giving care to others as well as yourself. You cannot do it all, especially when you are not claiming time to care for yourself. It is important to gain the awareness of your own needs, limitations, and strengths in any given season of caregiving. As your loved one’s care needs change and your needs change, you will need to change the way you use your time remembering that your care is no less important than that of your loved one. 

 

In The Empowered Self-Caregiver Cohort, my 180 self-care program for caregivers, getting clarity on your capacity for caregiving is the first step. It focuses on building mindfulness and self-awareness, reconnecting you with your body, mind, and emotions so that you can begin creating time and space you so desperately need. The program then leads you through the other phases of the C.A.R.E. Framework (Clarity & Capacity, Advocacy, Resilience, Enjoyment) to transform your self-care and build confidence in your caregiving. 

 

Don’t just purchase another calendar this year thinking that will help you manage your time.

Use these steps to reclaim each moment for what it is…YOURS:

  1. Find pockets of time for self-care
  2. Advocate for personal time by speaking up for yourself
  3. Begin delegating responsibilities

 Implementing these strategies can help you experience a remarkable shift in your schedule and in your caregiving and self-care journey.

Feel like this is all too much to do on your own?

I invite you to participate in The Empowered Self-Caregiver Cohort. You’ll gain access to my comprehensive framework that supports you through the C.A.R.E. Framework helping you gain clariity, identify your capacity, advocate for yourself through boundary-setting, develop resilience in your self-care goals, and find the enjoyment of life again. Reimagining the caregiving experience and prioritizing self-care is not only crucial for your well-being but also enhances the overall quality of life for both you and your loved ones.

 

To learn more about The Empowered Self-Caregiver Cohort and start your journey to reclaim your life,  hop on a RESET call with me

 

180 Days to Reclaim Your Time!

If you are ready to take back your time and stop running on other people’s timelines, join The EMPOWERED Self-Caregiver Cohort. You’ll get training, personal guidance, and specific strategies to help you reclaim your time, your health, and the moments you’ve been missing.

IN JUST 180 days, learn to create a sustainable self-care practice so that you can be empowered in your life and in your caregiving journey. 

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