There is a Facebook page I visit almost every day because it simply warms my heart to go there. You may have a similar page in your neighborhood, it is called: Buy Nothing Eden Prairie. The tag-line for the page (a private group) simply says: Give. Ask. Gratitude.
There is no chit-chat on this page, the instructions are very clear:
- If you have something to offer (and ONLY for free), you post it with a photo and offer your readers a sense of your location, should they want the object(s) you’re offering.
- If you have need of something (no request is too big or small, it seems) you may ask and neighbors are consistently resourceful in filling that request for you, if they’re able.
- Finally if you’ve appreciated some gift you’ve received through the site, you may take a photo of it in your space, to show us all how beautifully you’ve repurposed it or made use of it.
I’ve come to think, “Wouldn’t it be great if more interactions in my life were like this FB Group?”Wouldn’t it be awesome if a caregiver could have a similar group, where one could post the really difficult “asks” that come with caregiving…
- ASK: I really need time to take a bath, a long, slow, luxurious bath. My husband has Alzheimer’s and I barely get time for a quick shower without him barging into the bathroom to find me. I’m looking for a husband-sitter who would come over periodically and entertain/supervise my husband for about an hour, allowing me to take a bath. I’m in Eden Prairie, near the airport.
- THANKS! I want to thank three neighbors for the single-serving frozen dinners they packaged and brought to my house last Saturday. The portions were perfect and fed my husband (who doesn’t eat much these days) for several evenings and permitted me to simply have a salad and avoid cooking on a hot summer evening! Much appreciated!
- ASK: I’m looking for an evening-aide, someone who’d take on the chores of getting my husband into bed each night. This involves reminding him to brush his teeth, giving him his sleeping pill, and assuring him he does not have contact lenses to remove or put away (not for 20 years now!). It may require answering several questions repeatedly, until he falls asleep. Time required: 30-minutes; daily or as frequently as possible, beginning at 9 pm.
You get the drift – where can we go to ask for what we really need? For most caregivers, there are very few places to turn and actually find resourceful, eager-to-be-helpful people, who will look for ways to find you what you most long for – you have to do it yourself!
I offer you this with both a bit of humor and a touch of sarcasm because, if you’re a caregiver you know it is essential to ask for what you need (if only to increase your chances of ever getting it!) and that most of the time, those requests go unanswered.
Family and friends grow bored of hearing that you’re tired, your weary and you’re overwhelmed. They can’t imagine what your days are like and have no idea that over the last several years of caregiving, you’ve added seven hours of housecleaning (an hour each day) to your “to-do-list” just because that’s the time it takes to pick-up after a loved one who inadvertently creates chaos by wrongly assuming s/he can cook a meal, fix a doorknob, find a particular sweater or bathe the dog. It is exhausting!
My best wisdom for you is this:
- Don’t stop asking for what you need – even if the only one listening is the Universe, sometimes we can manifest exactly what we need by getting very specific and clear about what would help!
- Don’t be ashamed or afraid to admit that you have needs! People may surprise you with unusually generous offers to help, if only they could understand what you truly need!
- Ask yourself what the “pain-points” are in your life, what would genuinely serve your needs (like a luxurious bath!) if it were available to you. People don’t know how to help if we aren’t willing to show them our needs!
Over the course of a decade as a family caregiver and now, a coach to other caregivers for these last four years, I’ve discovered several important truths, not the least of which is this:
I know it is counter-intuitive to think this could be true, but it is. When your needs are met, you have more energy, more reserves, more bandwidth, to deal with all the daily challenges that come with caregiving. When your needs are met, you have a softer disposition (less reactivity) a slower temper, and a lot more empathy for the caregiving work you do. Your nervous system is able to relax a little, and you’re more effective as a caregiver because of that!
So, please ask away! And remember, I’m here for you. I can’t magically meet your needs, but I can hear your true longings and help you amplify them to the Universe so that the work of caregiving feels a little bit easier than it was before. Talking through it together is surprisingly beneficial! There’s a simple coaching-consult call you can book through my website, and it’s free! Let’s talk soon!