More so than any other time of the year, parents (and often moms) put organizing holiday activities, juggling big meals, and generally keeping the family peace above their own needs. Once the frenzy of the holidays are over, it is easy to slip back into the regular routine – and yet somehow the that trip to the salon, going to the gym, or a night out with friends stays on the back burner. Since I know that many of our members have a tendency to neglect their own care throughout the year, I wanted to share eight New Year’s resolutions, specially tailored for the family caregiver:
1. Take care of yourself. This could mean anything from a shower (if you've been sporting a ponytail for the past week for a reason) to a manicure, yoga classes, or spa-esque luxuries. Basically, if leaving home means throwing on the sweatpants, kick things up a notch with a blow-dry or jeans and feel confident in how you look – even if you're just picking the kids up from school.
2. Keep calm. Just because the kids are screaming on the floor of the grocery store doesn't mean your voice should carry all the way to the produce aisle. Instead, keep your blood pressure low by practicing new parenting techniques. Check out Hal Runkel's Scream Free Parenting for ideas.
3. Initiate date night – for the whole family. While you'll need a sitter for date nights with your significant other, have your spouse be the caregiver while you spend on-on-one time with each of the kids at a baseball game or movie night.
4. Make a fitness goal. Instead of just pledging to go to the gym this year, set a measurable goal – run a 5K, attend eight aerobics classes in a month, or set an achieveable goal weight with a trainer.
5. Do not covet thy neighbor's nanny. Does a neighbor have the perfect sitter? Instead of contemplating the sin of nanny poaching, find your own family's perfect match. Craft a job post, and list all your dream qualities in a babysitter.
6. Get involved with your child's education. Even if you don't have the time for PTA, find other ways to support your kids' learning, including helping with homework and supporting the classroom. Check out The Parent Connection for ideas.
7. Create lasting memories with your own parents. Take a moment to talk with your parents about their legacy and your family’s history. Check out VP of Care Management Jody Gastfriend's suggestions for memorializing their legacy.
8. Girls Night Out. Or girls night in – but either way, spend some quality time with friends – even if it means all you talk about are your kids. Over knitting, over martinis, or whatever helps you to relax.
I know it can be a daunting feat for family caregivers to make time for themselves. Taking care of loved ones, even with the help of professional caregivers, can easily leave no time for reading or even sleeping. It is crucial to try and make time – write it into the schedule, have the sitter stay a little later, or ask a partner for help. If possible, the result will be a happier and healthier family caregiver for the New Year – something the entire family will celebrate.