I Just Have Too Much To Do!

There certainly are those days when this is my chief complaint, “I just have too much to do!” I can appreciate that this may be hard to imagine since I’m essentially a retired person – how can there be so much to do?

And I agree, my circumstances are not the same as someone who has a boss who piles on the work or a graduate student who has several professors, each of whom generates heavy assignments. No, my workload doesn’t come from someone else – it is of my own creation.

I have no one to blame for my sense of overload, I just carry a lot of responsibilities.  When I speak to groups about Caregiver Stress (a common topic I’m asked to present) I try to remind my audience that the caregiver is generally juggling a lot of roles, and with each role comes a set of responsibilities, a to-do list, that can easily become oppressive.

An elder male sits at his desk, looking to his laptop and cross-referencing paperwork, notes, and numbers. There is a calculator and multiple stacks of paper on his desktop.

Here’s just a few of the roles that I, and any family caregiver may need to juggle:

  • Schedule Manager – this often involves getting my husband to his appointments (dental, medical, daycare, etc.) and getting myself to appointments as well.  This of course requires managing transportation (sometimes as a driver, sometimes as the passenger) and the timing of other helpers who may be needed. 
  • Nutrition Manager – this begins with grocery shopping and putting food away safely so that it can be transformed at a later time from groceries to actual meals. It requires knowing what (and how much) my husband will eat – which is less and less, lately – and keeping a clear inventory of the pantry, so I don’t over-purchase or allow food to spoil.
  • Laundry Manager – from bedding to clothing, sooner or later, everything needs to be laundered. And, once you wash it, you have to dry it, sort it, fold it and put it away – so that it can become next week’s laundry again.  It’s a perpetually redundant process!
  • Medication Manager – in our house this is fairly simple but in some households, there may be many prescriptions plus over-the-counter drugs to inventory and dispense. And, sometimes those doses change, and you have to start over.  I generally can dose out my husband’s pills every six weeks using that many containers.
  • Facilities Manager (including housekeeping) – this is all about keeping the house itself operational. Replacing things that break, from the washing machine to the garage door, tending to those things that require maintenance or repair, and calling on other experts when the work requires a particular skill. For some caregivers, lawn maintenance and landscaping may also be part of the package! Additionally, there’s the routine cleaning that has to be either done or supervised if an outside service is used.
  • Financial Manager – which includes everything from paying the bills to going to the bank, overseeing any investments and assets which may have been accumulated, and assuring that various taxes are paid on time.
  • Vehicle Maintenance Manager – most of us have a car (some may have more than one vehicle) and the owner must tend to its maintenance schedule, from regular oil changes to weekly gas fill-ups and the occasional car wash. This adds to the on-going to-do list. And of course, occasionally a car offers its owner a curious surprise, like a flat tire or an electronic fob that the vehicle no longer recognizes – frustrating!
  • Relationship Manager – this is all the work a caregiver does to assure that their loved-one is “well-peopled” and may involve everything from getting the holiday cards and birthday gifts out on time to setting up visits or going on visits to assure that relationships are nurtured and maintained in a healthy way.

I can think of thirty other things that are regularly part of my work and that populate my “to-do list” and honestly, caregiving in my household isn’t very complex (as it is in so many families I hear from!).

On top of these chores, I run a small business, which has its own set of responsibilities and expectations. Many of those responsibilities actually bring me joy because they connect me to clients and colleagues without whom my life as a caregiver would feel very lonely and isolated!

So, if you’re a caregiver, please know that I see you.  I get what you’re doing, how much is on your plate and why you may feel tired or overloaded (I certainly feel that way sometimes!).

If you have a friend (or family member) who is a primary caregiver, perhaps this offers some insight into the kinds of stress that person may be experiencing, how many roles they may be juggling, and why they may be exhausted in their work. Perhaps you can offer some meaningful support?

What can help?  Three things come to mind:

  • Being honest about what parts are the most challenging (and that may be different for each of us).
  • Looking for ways we can simplify, delegate or find assistance in some of the regular chores (ordering groceries online, hiring a cleaning service, etc.).
  • Having friends who “get” what we’re up against and how endless that “to-do list” can feel.

Wishing you a productive week, a joyful summer, and a well-connected and well-supported life, whether you’re a caregiver or not. As aways, let me know if I can help!

Self-care is every conscious action you take that feeds your soul, nourishes your body, nurtures your spirit, or replenishes your relationship with yourself!

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About Paula

I help other caregivers – both professionals and family caregivers – acknowledge their pain and learn to practice the many small skills of self-care that can sustain them through the challenges of wholeheartedly caring for others.

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How Can I Help You?

Through Co-Create 4 Life, you will learn a range of well-being strategies from skillfully implementing self-care to holistic approaches to well-being, rebuilding resilience, and battling burnout. Book a free consultation call today to discuss your options.

How Can I Help You?

Through Co-Create 4 Life, you will learn a range of well-being strategies from skillfully implementing self-care to holistic approaches to well-being, rebuilding resilience, and battling burnout. Book a free consultation call today to discuss your options.