There’s “hump day” (Wednesday) and TGIF (Thank Goodness it’s Friday).
Like millions of Americans, Monday through Friday, week after week, I had my morning routine before going to work. We all have a pre-work routine. We do certain things to prepare for the tasks that lie ahead. It may be a morning shower, walking the dog, or packing your lunch. It is our way of gearing up for the day. Then we would arrive at the office, lab, store, factory, etc. ready for the day’s challenges. Even people who work at home have some routine before starting their workday. I heard of a writer who dressed for work, walked around the house, and re-entered through the front door. She was now officially at work and got right down to business.
What About Caregiving?
I read an insightful article on the AARP website that described a feeling I’ve experienced before, and one I suspect is quite common. Overcoming Feelings of Dread as a Family Caregiver, by Barry Jacobs, AARP, March 3, 2020 https://www.aarp.org/caregiving/life-balance/info-2020/overcoming-dread-negative-feelings.html?fbclid=IwAR2ynVr8UJ4br1k3AgvxkDoKuBXaiIlszBdV2vWAe8UzSLprtnV8G_yh-3Q is a terrific short read that resonated with me. I recall I groaned one morning when my feet had just hit the floor. I was half awake and my loved one was already calling for me. I deflated. I needed time, and coffee to work up to my job.
It was as if I had awakened and found myself at my desk at work. The phone was ringing, and there were stacks of case files to read now. I was still in my PJs and desperately craved my cup of java.
I need a quiet morning routine so I can get in gear, but it can be a struggle to protect my “me” time. Simply put, our lives cannot be wall to wall work. We need to recharge our batteries daily with joy-filling activities.
My Daily Bookends
Here’s what works for me. (And I recognized several similar suggestions in Jacob’s article.) I arise at least one hour earlier than my loved one usually awakens. I use the time to savor my mug of coffee while I read the Bible and pray for wisdom, patience, gentleness. Truly, I find Jesus’ words, “I am the Vine, you are the branches. Without me you can do nothing,” to be my strongest armor against dreading the task He has set before me. He will give me everything I need, sometimes “pressed down and overflowing.”
Then I look forward to the end of the day when I do what I’ve enjoyed for years. I curl up and read whatever book I’ve recently crawled into. Or I could watch something I taped on my DVR. Perhaps you want to chill out with Steven Colbert.
The point is, I begin and end my days with what fills me with joy and power. These are my “me” times that prepare me for the day and help me fall asleep at night.
Dread is Different than Burnout
As Jacobs points out, a feeling of dread because of all the daily, routine, mundane caregiving tasks that fill our days is normal.
Dread is part of burnout but is not burnout itself. Yet it causes caregivers undeserved, baseless guilt. We think we should be happy and fulfilled all the time as we care for our precious ones. But who wants to roll out of bed and land at the workplace? Next time you think you are a terrible caregiver because you dread getting out of bed and facing your workload, choose something you enjoy to do first and then report for duty. In other words, a pre-work morning routine. And be sure to reward yourself at the end of the day. While you’re at it, look for more little moments of joy here and there.
Just a little FYI, on Tuesday, July 20th my devotional “The Devil and Blueberries “ will be posted at https://christiandevotions.us/